John Wayne Gacy was convicted of killing 33 people in suburban Chicago in the 1970s. He was executed in 1994. But now, a 16-year-old runaway from St. Paul has been identified as one of his victims.
For 41 years, Lorie Sisterman has wondered what happened to her little brother "Jimmie."
Now, for better or worse, she knows.
"It's great news, but it's shocking and overwhelming," Sisterman said. "I've been telling people I'm kind of in a fog. I'm doing my thing, walking and talking. It's a little surreal."
Sisterman says Jimmie Haakenson ran away from their family's home in St. Paul in 1976, when he was just 16.
He called his mother on August 5 that year to say he was in Chicago, but his family never heard from him again.
"We got married. We had kids. Life went on, always wondering that happened to Jimmie," Sisterman said.
When John Wayne Gacy was arrested two years later for killing 33 boys and young men and burying many of them in the crawl space under his house, Sisterman says her family wondered if Jimmie was one of his victims.
Her mother even went to St. Paul police, who sent a letter to investigators in Illinois, but without dental records they couldn't make a positive identification.
After Sisterman's nephew, who never met Jimmie, learned Cook County investigators were still trying to identify seven of Gacy's victims, he convinced Sisterman and her brother to submit a DNA sample last March.
On Monday, Cook County detectives came to Minnesota to tell them Jimmie was the person known as "Victim Number 24."
"If you're mad and run away from home, you don't deserve to be scooped up by a madman and murdered," said Sisterman.
Now that Sisterman knows her brother is buried in a cemetery in Hillside, IL, with the words "We Remembered" on his tombstone, she hopes she can finally put this mystery, decades in the making, to rest.
"We can say his name and that's where he is and say goodbye and maybe it will be good. We'll feel good," said Sisterman.
Investigators told Sisterman that Gacy killed her brother, the very same day Jimmie called home for the last time.
Her family will eventually have a service for him at the Illinois cemetery.