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Help sought identifying serial killer Gacy's victims

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Authorities appealed to the public on Wednesday for DNA samples from anyone who believes a relative might have been murdered by serial killer John Wayne Gacy, in an effort to identify eight of his 33 victims.

Gacy lured young men and boys to his suburban Chicago home during the 1970s, where he assaulted and murdered them.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart asked for the public's help now that DNA has been collected and analyzed from the remains of the eight unidentified victims.

"Some families were estranged from their relative who was killed by Gacy, and were unaware their relative was missing," Dart said in a statement.

Authorities said changing attitudes about homosexuality, prostitution and drug use attributed to some of Gacy's victims might remove a hurdle for reluctant relatives to come forward.

Illinois convicted Gacy of murder and he was executed in 1994. Twenty-nine bodies were buried underneath or near Gacy's house and the rest dumped in area rivers.

The victims would have gone missing beginning in 1970, the year Gacy was released from prison, and late 1978 when he was arrested. The unidentified remains belonged to males between 14 and 32 years old, though their exact ages are unknown.

Some of Gacy's victims were never reported missing, and he was known to have targeted travelers in bus stations.

A judge recently granted permission for the mother of 14-year-old boy to exhume the body of a Gacy victim identified through dental records as her son. The mother wants a DNA test to determine if it was truly her son, who disappeared in 1976 from Chicago's North Side.

(Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Greg McCune)

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