Online Staff Report
Harold Wayne Lovell, 53, who left his family’s Chicago home in his late teens in May 1977, has been found living in Florida years after he was believed to have been a victim of Chicago-area serial killer and rapist John Wayne Gacy.
Detectives at the Cook County Sheriff’s office reviewing unidentified remains cases discovered eight of the 33 people Gacy was convicted of murdering had never been identified. Detectives obtained exhumation orders to test the remains for DNA, with the hope that relatives of young men who went missing in the area in the 1970s would offer to participate in genetic testing.
Tim Lovell and Theresa Hasselberg, siblings of Harold Wayne Lovell’s now living in Alabama, were planning to submit their DNA for examination when they ran across an online police booking photo of their brother taken in Florida.
Lovell and Hasselberg reached out to their brother, who now goes by his middle name, Wayne, by phone. The family was then reunited Tuesday, Oct. 25, after Lovell and Hasselberg bought Wayne Lovell a bus ticket.
Wayne Lovell had not been seen by his family since he left the family home in May 1977 looking for construction work. Wayne Lovell said he left because he was not getting along with his mother and stepfather.
Since leaving his family in 1977, Wayne Lovell has worked various jobs and has had occasional troubles with the law.
Gacy murdered at least 33 teen-age boys and young men between 1972 and 1978, luring many of them from their families by offering them work. He buried 26 of his victims in the crawl space of his home and three others elsewhere on his property. When he ran out of room on his property, he dumped the remains of four victims into a nearby river.
Gacy, who confessed to the killings after his arrest, was convicted of 33 murders in March 1980, receiving the death sentence for 12 of them. He was executed in May 1994.
Gacy later obtained the nickname of the “Killer Clown” because of his services at fund-raising events, parades and children’s parties as “Pogo the Clown,” a character he created.
Meantime, according to reports, many families of men who disappeared during the 1970s have contacted the Cook County Sheriff’s office about DNA testing.