JASPER COUNTY, Ind. (WLS) -- Nearly 40 years after he died, a 19-year-old found in Jasper County, Indiana has been identified as a victim of serial killer Larry Eyler.
The remains of William Joseph Lewis of Peru, Ind., were found in a field by a hunter in October 1983 near Rensselaer, but they were not positively identified until recently. A forensics company in Massachusetts helped confirm they were Lewis's with the help of sophisticated DNA matching that linked him to his family.
Lewis's family never knew if he was alive, but never gave up hope.
"My grandmother never did til the day she died," said Joshua Shuck, nephew. "She never accepted anything, 'til the day she died she was like 'He's still out there.'"
She died in 2020, never learning the truth.
Known as the "Jasper County John Doe," Lewis's body was found along with the remains of 20 other young men or boys.
Known as the "interstate Killer," Eyler murdered more than 20 young men in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He confessed to his attorney that he had killed Lewis, though he didn't know his name, and said he had picked him up on US 41 near Vincennes when Lewis was hitchhiking in November 1982.
"This is somebody's kid and somebody has to take him home," said Jasper County Coroner Andy Boersma, who was committed to identifying the remains.
Eyler died in prison in 1994.
Shuck was born after his uncle went missing. He said the news came out of nowhere for the family.
"It's a nice feeling to finally figure out what happened to him," Shuck said.
The unidentified remains were buried years ago in a cemetery by the county. Now that they've been identified, Lewis's family is planning on a proper burial and service.