For years, Laura O’Leary has visited the graves of her family members in southwest suburban Justice, but she didn’t know her brother was buried in the same cemetery – as an unidentified victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
O’Leary recently learned her missing teenage brother, William George Bundy, was one of Gacy’s eight unidentified victims more than three decades ago. He was buried in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery where his grandparents and an aunt were also laid to rest.
On Tuesday, O’Leary hugged Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to thank him for a DNA initiative that led to her brother’s identification on Nov. 14.
“Today is a terribly sad day for my family. But it is also a day that provides closure,” she said at a news conference with Dart.
O’Leary, who lives in Chicago, said her family plans to put a new marker on her brother’s grave during a memorial service in the spring. She choked up as she remembered her brother as an outgoing, handsome athlete who excelled in diving and gymnastics.
“All my girlfriends wanted to date him,” she said of her brother, who she called Bill.
Bill Bundy, a 19-year-old North Sider and Senn High School dropout, was among at least 33 people Gacy killed in a spree that lasted from 1972 to 1978. Gacy was executed in 1994.
In October, Dart announced an effort to use DNA to put names to the eight unidentified victims, whose bodies were quietly exhumed by his office earlier this year.
The sheriff’s office has received about 125 tips from people like O’Leary who provided the names of missing people they suspected were Gacy victims.
She and her brother Robert Bundy submitted DNA samples that allowed the University of North Texas to link one of the unidentified bodies to Bill Bundy.
Tests on four other unidentified victims didn’t result in matches, Dart said. Test results for the rest of the unidentified victims are pending, he said.
Bundy was reported missing in October 1976 after saying he was going to a party. He left his wallet at his family’s home in the 4100 block of North Clarendon in Buena Park.
Bundy had dropped out of high school as a junior and did construction work. Gacy was known to lure some victims by offering to hire them to work for his home renovation company, Dart said.
When the bodies were found on Gacy’s property in 1978, Bundy’s sister suspected her brother was among them. She persuaded her mother to seek her brother’s dental records. But the dentist had retired and destroyed his files, so no records were available for a match at the time.
For the rest of her life, Bundy’s mother Elizabeth Bundy remained in denial that her son could have been one of Gacy’s victims, O’Leary said.
Elizabeth Bundy died in 1990. Her former husband Robert Bundy died five years ago.
“To help bring some sort of closure and maybe peace to a family is something we are all hopeful for,” Dart said, adding that he wishes he “could have provided some sort of closure for William’s mother and father before they passed away. I do hope and pray that Laura and Robert might find some peace and closure with the news today.”
Bundy’s remains were previously labeled Victim No. 19 by investigators because he was the 19th victim taken from the crawl space of Gacy’s home. At 5-foot-4, Bundy was the shortest of Gacy’s victims.
He was among 29 victims found in 1978 on Gacy’s property at 8213 W. Summerdale in unincorporated Norwood Park Township. Four other Gacy victims were found in the Des Plaines River. Gacy told the police he dumped a fifth victim in the river, but that body was never recovered.
Dart said investigators found vials of Gacy’s blood in an evidence room earlier this year and plan to enter those samples in a nationwide DNA database. Gacy had traveled extensively throughout the country, Dart said.
If Gacy committed murders in other states in the 1970s, there’s a slim chance police there saved evidence that could be compared with his DNA, Dart said.