Identified: Francis Wayne Alexander (FKA Gacy Victim 5)

          For this month’s Doe, we’re going to examine an incredible identification. One of John Wayne Gacy’s victims has been identified after over four decades of not having his name. I have been researching the Does found in Gacy’s home and the missing persons cases suspected to be connected to him for a while now, preparing for another serial killer series like I did back in January on Ted Bundy. I’m ecstatic that that series will have one less Doe to cover. Who was Francis Wayne Alexander, and how was he identified? Let’s explore.

Who Was Wayne?

          Francis Wayne Alexander was born in 1955. He went by his middle name Wayne, so that is how we will refer to him in this post. He moved to New York in the early 1970s, where he met and married a young woman. Wayne and his new wife moved to Chicago in 1975. Unfortunately, the pair divorced not long after the move. Wayne’s ex-wife has not been identified in the media at the time of writing this post.
          Wayne’s family did not report him missing. They were used to hearing from him only about once a month after he moved away from North Carolina. They believed that Wayne was out living his life, and had some reason to not visit or contact. Over the years, they did search for him – with advances in genealogy and social media, it was hard not to – but never found a trace of their lost loved one. They had always half-joked about him just showing up one day – which doesn’t seem to be out of line with Wayne’s own personality. Wayne’s family describes him as a kind, caring young man who loved to joke around.

(One of the only known photos of Wayne.
via CBS Chicago)

The Murder

          We do not know many specifics about Wayne’s murder. His family’s last contact with him was a phone call in November of 1977, during which he asked his mother to mail his birth certificate out to California so he could pursue a job opportunity. He had moved to Chicago sometime in 1975, but it remains unclear how he came into contact with Gacy. It is believed that he was murdered in late 1977 or early 1978. We don’t know how or when, exactly, he died, but his remains were one of eight sets found buried in Gacy’s crawl space, hinting that he may have been one of Gacy’s earlier victims. He was only 21 or 22 at the time of his murder.

(Investigators excavating in search of victims at
the Gacy house in late 1978 or early 1979.
via the Chicago Tribune)

The Identification

          It was announced on October 25, 2021 that the remains previously identified as John Wayne Gacy Victim Number 5 had been identified. The investigation into the eight unknown victims found in John Wayne Gacy’s crawl space was reopened in 2011. The investigator on the case, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, made a public appeal to anyone who had a young male family member go missing in or around Chicago in the mid to late 1970s to submit DNA. This genealogical campaign identified two victims in 2017 – William Bundy and Jimmy Haakenson. After these two successes, the push for identification settled.
        Until the Cook County Sheriff partnered with the DNA Doe Project, a non-profit organization that uses forensic genealogy to identify John and Jane Does. Through this process, investigators were able to find a distant relative of Wayne’s, which then allowed the investigators to trace the family tree back to Wayne’s mother and brother. Investigators are hopeful that this new method, which has helped identify dozens of Does in the past few years, can be utilized to give the names of the other unnamed Gacy victims back to them, finally putting them to rest.

Sources

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