Daniel Noe, 21, last made contact with his downstate family via phone from Washington state September 30, 1978. Noe told his father he was planning to hitchhike back to Illinois from Washington to resume his degree at Northwestern University in Evanston. His family reported him missing December 12 of that year.
Years later, sheriff's deputies realized Noe fit the profile of a Gacy victim -- male, white, 14-25 years of age, potentially traveling through the north side of Cook County, hitchhiker/Greyhound bus traveler.
But DNA samples from Noe's parents did not match any of the unidentified victims of John Wayne Gacy. However, a genetic association was found in an unidentified deceased person's case in Salt Lake County, Utah. The remains were found on a steep mountainside of Mount Olympus in 2010.
A search of the mountain revealed no signs of foul play. Noe's family said he was an avid mountain climber. According to his roommate, Larry Wehking, who was the last person to see him alive, he dropped Noe off on Highway 5 where he was going to begin his trip back home. Highway 5 connects to I-80 which passes Mount Olympus and continues to Chicago.
Noe's family, in a statement, thanked Sheriff Tom Dart, Detective Jason Moran and the Cook County Sheriff's Department and the Unified Police Department in Utah.
"Without their help we would not have closure, and Daniel would not be coming home to finally be laid to rest," the statement read.
"The strangeness of where everything ended up as far as where their son passed away was a little bit different, but they were completely reserved and there was almost a sense of serenity," said Sheriff Dart.
"To be able to say that he died doing something nice like mountain hiking was very good for the family," said Detective Moran.
Services will be held Monday and Tuesday in Washington, IL.
After Gacy was arrested in December 1978, it was discovered that some of his victims had never been reported missing by their families. Also, missing person reports from distant jurisdictions may not have found their way to investigators in Cook County at the time.
The Cook County Sheriff's Office is seeking information from individuals who had a male relative who went missing between 1970 and 1979 in the United States, are directly related to the missing person by a blood relationship and are willing to donate a DNA sample.