Another missing person’s case has been solved as a result of efforts by law enforcement related to the John Wayne Gacy case, Cook County police announced on Thursday.
The remains of an Illinois man once believed to be a possible victim of Gacy were discovered by hikers on a mountainside in Utah, solving a missing person case more than 30 years after the man disappeared. No signs of foul play were found, police stated.
Daniel Raymond Noe, a surveyor and factory worker from Peoria, was 21 years old in 1977 when he moved to Bellingham, Washington for work, according to police. Noe called his father on Sept. 30, 1978, and told him he wanted to complete his college degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, and planned to hitchhike back to the Chicago area. Noe was never seen or heard from again.
Noe fit Gacy’s known victim profile; he was a white male, 14-25 years old, possibly travelling through the north side of Cook County and he was a hitchhiker or Greyhound bus traveler.
DNA samples from Noe’s parents were analyzed, but did not match any of the unidentified victims of Gacy. However, a genetic association was found in an unidentified deceased person’s case in Salt Lake County, UT, according to the Cook County Sherriff’s press release.
Hikers discovered the remains on Mount Olympus in 2010. Noe’s family members said he was an avid mountain hiker. Noe’s roommate in Washington, Larry Wehking, another Peoria transplant, said Noe loved the outdoors, and they went on mountain camping trips.
Wehking dropped off Noe on Highway 5 at the beginning of his trip back to the Chicago area, police stated. Highway 5 connects to Interstate 80, which passes Mount Olympus and continues to Chicago.
“We would like to thank the University of Northern Texas Center for Human Identification (UNTCHI) for their ongoing cooperation in these matters and the Unified Police Department in Utah for their professionalism and excellent police work,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart stated in the press release. “While solving these cases is a bittersweet moment, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to give families some sort of closure regarding their missing loved ones.”
This was not the first instance the Gacy investigation led to discoveries regarding other missing persons cases.
Some of his 33 victims remained unidentified long after Gacy's trial and eventual execution by lethal injection in 1994, thus relegated to cold-case status.
In October 2011 Cook County investigators exhumed skeletal remains of eight unidentified victims in an attempt to use modern DNA techniques to match names with the bones. Some 120 families of long-missing youths contacted the sheriff’s office, many with DNA information, hoping to find closure.
As a result of this renewed effort by law enforcement to identify Gacy victims, .
Coincidentally, a presumed Gacy victim turned up alive in Tampa, FL, in 2011. Harold Wayne Lovell disappeared in 1977 on his way to look for work in Aurora. But, in reality, he decided to run away from his home due to family problems, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. He settled in Florida, staying out of contact with his worried family.
Relatives found a police booking photo of him online, and reunited with him in Alabama, according to a report by WDHN in Dothan, Alabama.
One Missing Des Plaines Teen Unraveled Gacy
Des Plaines police first became involved in the case while following up leads of a missing Des Plaines teenager, Robert Piest. Des Plaines officers arrested John Wayne Gacy, one of the most sensational mass-murder cases in history, at his Norwood Park Township home on Dec. 21, 1978.
Since Gacy lived in an unincorporated part of the township, by Norridge, the sheriff’s office then became the primary law enforcement agency handling the case, involving the murders of dozens teenage boys throughout the 1970s.