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更新时间:2017-8-3 10:48:56 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

A Decades-Long Quest With a Chilling End: John Wayne Gacy’s 24th Victim

MAYWOOD, Ill. — It was a painful mystery that had simmered just below the surface for about 40 years, and last month, the family of James Byron Haakenson finally got their answer. As they had long feared, the funny, good-natured 16-year-old they called Jimmy had been a victim of John Wayne Gacy, one of the country’s most notorious serial killers.

伊利诺伊州梅伍德——这是一个痛苦的谜团,在平静的表面之下酝酿了大约40年的时间,上个月,詹姆斯·拜伦·哈肯森(James Byron Haakenson)的家人终于得到了答案。正如他们长期以来一直所担心的那样,被他们叫做吉米的那个风趣、善良的16岁男孩,是被全国最臭名昭著的连环杀手之一约翰·韦恩·盖西(John Wayne Gacy)杀害的。

But the revelation by Chicago-area law enforcement officials opened up a new set of haunting questions for this family as they imagined his final days, now with just enough certainty to be horrifying.


“How did this 16-year-old kid get to Chicago, and how in the heck did he run into this awful man?” Lorie Sisterman, Jimmy’s older sister, said from her home in North St. Paul, Minnesota.

“这个16岁的孩子是怎样来到了芝加哥,究竟又是怎样遇到了这个可怕的男人呢?”吉米的姐姐洛莉·塞斯特曼(Lorie Sisterman)在明尼苏达州北圣保罗的家中说。

The story of Jimmy’s identification, decades after his death, is a remarkable quest that spanned the country. It took a curious nephew in Texas with a knack for digging around online, siblings in Minnesota and South Dakota who had never stopped wondering what had happened to their brother, and a sheriff-detective team in Illinois determined to close cold cases.


Originally, Cook County investigators had little to go on but the body of a young man, between 5 feet 5 and 5 feet 10, discovered with dozens of others at Gacy’s house in 1978. He was known only as Victim No. 24.


The Disappearance


One summer day in 1976, Jimmy appeared in the kitchen of the Haakenson house in St. Paul, his brown hair bleached blond. Carrying no backpack or suitcase, he told his family that he was off to Chicago. Jimmy had been known to leave home before, seeking fun and relief from a crowded house with four children, a mother who held as many as three jobs and a father who worked as a plumber but also drank heavily. Jimmy had always come back.


“I just said, ‘Why is your mom letting him go to Chicago?'” said Jackie Haakenson, who was then dating Jimmy’s older brother, Donald (they later married). Nobody else in the room seemed to share her worries.

“我说,‘为什么你妈妈让他去了芝加哥?’”杰基·哈肯森(Jackie Haakenson)说,当时她正和吉米的哥哥唐纳德约会(他们后来结了婚)。房间里的其他人似乎都和她有同样的顾虑。

“It was so loose and easy back then, you could just hitchhike and not worry about it,” Sisterman said. “If he thumbed it all the way to Chicago, we don’t know.”


Word that he had made it there safely came on Aug. 5. Jimmy called home and spoke to his mother, June Haakenson, assuring her that he was fine.

8月5日,他平安抵达的消息传了回来。吉米打电话回家,和母亲朱恩·哈肯森(June Haakenson)通话,告诉她自己一切都好。

But then weeks passed with no word from him. June Haakenson, a quiet, reserved woman, reported Jimmy missing to the police, and told them where she suspected her son, who sometimes wore makeup, might be. In a message dated Sept. 7, 1976, the St. Paul police alerted the Chicago Police Department. “Mother thinks he may be in company of gays in Chicago,” the letter said.


The Serial Killer


The news out of Norwood Park Township, Illinois, in December 1978, was grisly. The police arrested Gacy, a 38-year-old owner of a construction firm who was known in the neighborhood as a businessman and amateur clown.


A search revealed dozens of bodies in and near his house. Gacy had abducted and rapedsome victims, and lured others to his home by promising them construction jobs or sex. Then he killed them, often by strangulation.


Hearing about the murders, June Haakenson thought of her son, who had now been missing for more than two years. “After the story broke, my mom and I had a conversation and said, ‘Well, what if?'” Sisterman recalled.


Her mother told the St. Paul police, who passed along her theory to officials in Illinois, according to police records. The Cook County police asked for Jimmy’s dental records. For reasons unknown, none were sent.


In the house in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where Jeff Haakenson grew up, he never saw a picture of his Uncle Jimmy. But when he was a child in the 1980s, his mother, Jackie Haakenson, told him what had happened before Jeff was born.

杰夫·哈肯森(Jeff Haakenson)在南达科他州苏瀑市长大,他从来没有见过吉米叔叔的照片。但是,1980年代,当他还是个小孩的时候,母亲杰基·哈肯森给他讲过这桩在他出生之前发生的事。

“John Wayne Gacy got him,” she would say.


Jeff Haakenson often read about true crime, including books about the Gacy killings and the Jeffrey Dahmer murders in Milwaukee. And from the time he was 19 and in the Air Force, he would spend hours searching for his uncle online.

杰夫·哈肯森经常阅读真实犯罪报道,包括关于盖西杀人案和密尔沃基的杰弗里·达默(Jeffrey Dahmer)谋杀案的书籍。他19岁时加入了空军,在军队里,他会花很多时间在网上搜索他叔叔的消息。

“I could never find him,” Jeff Haakenson, 37, said from Lubbock, Texas. “It just really bothered me that nobody cared, that somebody went missing and it’s like, nobody’s doing anything about it. If it was my brother who went missing, I would be turning over every rock looking for him.”


The Detective


As a boy growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the 1980s, Jason Moran would hear about the serial killer from the suburbs who targeted young people. As a seasoned detective in Cook County trying to close Gacy cases, he saw the agony left behind.

杰森·莫兰(Jason Moran)是1980年代在芝加哥南部长大的,他从小就听说过这个来自郊区,专门杀害年轻人的连环杀手。作为库克县的一位资深警探,在试图为盖西案结案之时,他看到了遗留下来的痛苦。

“It’s quite devastating to see how much death and pain he has caused for so many people,” he said. “This was a new experience with human pain.”


In 2011, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced a new push to close cold cases in Cook County, particularly the Gacy case, which had left eight unidentified victims at the time. Gacy was executed by lethal injection in 1994.

2011年,治安官托马斯·J·达特(Thomas J. Dart)宣布了一项推动库克县了结未结旧案的新行动,特别是盖西一案,当时已经只剩八名受害者身份不明。1994年盖西被执行注射死刑。

Moran and Dart started digging, beginning with the warehouse where boxes and materials on the Gacy case were kept. They gathered everyone they could find who was involved with the original investigation. And they acknowledged the challenges ahead — after decades, many families have long given up on finding their missing relatives.


But DNA evidence was making it easier to link unidentified bodies with names, and DNA was extracted from the bones of the unidentified people who were discovered in a crawl space beneath Gacy’s house. There was also hope that families who did not want their missing loved ones to be associated with Gacy back then might come forward now.


After publicizing their quest, hundreds of tips poured in, including from Jeff Haakenson.


From there, the investigation moved swiftly, Moran said. Nothing revealed that Jimmy was alive, and his description — a young, unsupervised man in Chicago during the period when Gacy was killing people — suggested a possible link.


He then asked Donald Haakenson and Sisterman to submit DNA samples; Jimmy’s parents had both been dead for years.


The results from the lab were convincing enough that Moran asked the Haakenson family if they could meet in person to discuss them.


With family members assembled around Sisterman’s dining room table in North St. Paul in July, Moran broke the news. Shock rippled through the room as the family absorbed it.


“I didn’t want him to be dead, and especially dying the way he did,” Jeff Haakenson said. “But I’m relieved that he’s found, that he’s not missing anymore.”