CHICAGO (CBS) — A mother wants a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy exhumed, to prove once and for all whether the teenage boy was her son.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Sherry Marino was told that one of the bodies found under the crawlspace of Gacy’s home, at 8213 W. Summerdale Ave. in unincorporated Norwood Park Township, was that of her son, Michael Marino.
Michael went missing on Oct. 24, 1976, at the age of 14, but wasn’t identified as one of Gacy’s 33 victims until 3 1/2 years later. Over the years, Marino has suspected the body was not really Michael.
On Thursday, her attorney, Robert M. Stephenson, said he will file a petition in Cook County Circuit Court to allow her to have the body exhumed from Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Hillside, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.
“She’s always had her doubts,” Stephenson tells CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman. “She says every time she visits his grave one of the things she wonders is, ‘Is this you?’”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports
New evidence has raised questions about whether investigators misidentified the body in 1980, Stephenson said. “We need to do a DNA test to learn the truth.”
After Gacy was arrested on Dec. 21, 1978, police found 29 bodies of boys and men on his property.
Marino, of Chicago, almost immediately provided authorities with dental records and X-rays of her missing son following the grisly discovery.
Michael and one of his friends, Kenneth Parker, had been reported missing the same day in 1976. In March 1980, investigators publicly identified Michael and Kenneth as two victims whose bodies were found next to each other. They were Gacy’s youngest victims.
The delay in identification seemed odd to Marino. She also was concerned that the description of the clothing on the victim’s body didn’t match what she thought her son was wearing when he went missing.
In May, Stephenson agreed to work for Marino for free to help her confirm or deny the identification of her son as one of Gacy’s victims.
A review of dental records revealed a puzzling discrepancy, Stephenson said. The autopsy showed the victim had all of his second molars. But one of Michael’s adult molars hadn’t come in yet, according to a dental chart created about seven months before he disappeared in October 1976.
A dentist told Stephenson it’s unlikely the missing molar would have erupted in the seven months before he disappeared. Those teeth typically come in sometime between ages 12 and 13, he said.
The autopsy also indicated the victim had, at one point, had a broken collarbone and that it had healed. Marino does not remember her son breaking his collarbone, her lawyer said.
Also, the autopsy indicated that the body was white with “possibly some slight to moderate” mixture of Native American, but, according to Marino, her son did not have any Native American heritage.
Gacy was arrested on Dec. 20, 1978, after the bodies were found in his crawlspace, and four more were found in the Des Plaines River.
Before he was discovered to be a serial killer, Gacy was known as a loyal Democratic precinct captain who had his picture taken with First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and as Pogo the Clown, who worked children’s birthday parties. But he also had a criminal record, in the form of a molestation conviction from 1968.
After he was arrested, prosecutors said Gacy admitted most of his crimes, and even led police to bodies. But after his conviction in 1979, he insisted he was innocent, and a misunderstood victim of circumstance.
When CBS 2’s Walter Jacobson interviewed Gacy for a May 1992 story, Gacy claimed all he did was help dispose of two bodies, including that of Robert Piest, 15, whom Gacy had invited to apply for a job at his construction company. Gacy alleged that Piest had been killed by someone else in his home, but he said he did throw the body in the Des Plaines River.
That and other alibis and excuses were the bases of Gacy’s appeals, all of which failed. When he was executed on May 10, 1994, his notorious last words were, “Kiss my ass.”
The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.