Man believed to be Gacy victim found after 34 years

December 21, 2011 4:13:14 PM PST
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has announced that a man missing since 1977, who was believed by his family to be a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, has been found alive in Oregon.

Theodore "Ted" Szal, 59, was found living in Beaverton, Oregon. Dart says he left the Chicago area on his own free will, he was 24 years old when he decided to leave Illinois.

After the media reported that Sheriff Dart was working to identify the remaining unidentified Gacy victims, Ted's sister Marcia Carlson contacted the Sheriff's office on October 18.

Szal was married but going through a divorce and was residing with his wife in Glen Ellyn in 1977.

"He was not reported missing to authorities because Ted had a history of disengaging from his family for periods of time and then reengaging," according to a Cook County Sheriff's Department release.

Szal's vehicle was found abandoned at O'Hare International Airport shortly after his disappearance. Two of Szal's sisters said they had no further contact with his wife after his disappearance.

In November, DNA samples taken from Szal's parents were found not to match any of the seven remaining unidentified Gacy victims. Subsequent investigation by the sheriff's department found Szal's whereabouts in Oregon.

A Cook County detective reached Szal in Oregon and told him his family was searching for him.

"There was a bit of a silence on the phone. Ted was completely surprised and searched for words," the sheriff's department news release states. "After talking with the detective for a while he asked him to relay a message to his dad; he wanted his dad to know that he was still fishing, just the way his dad taught him when he was growing up. He mentioned to the detective that he left the Chicagoland area due to the break-up of his marriage and a misunderstanding with his family."

Szal's family released a statement through the sheriff's departmentsaying, "While we are so relieved to have discovered that Ted is alive and well, our thoughts and prayers are also with the families of the victims - both known and yet to be determined - of John Wayne Gacy. We are so thankful to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Detective Jason Moran. The work they are doing is meaningful and important."

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