The remains of a New Jersey teen missing since 1972 have been identified, thanks to the machinery put into place to identify the remaining unidentified victims of John Wayne Gacy, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said Tuesday.
The remains of 16-year-old Steven Soden, who ran away from a New Jersey orphanage in 1972 and was never heard from again, were identified using a DNA sample from Soden's sister that was uploaded into the Combined DNA Index System.
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Members of Soden's family hypothesized that the teenager may have come to Chicago where his biological father lived, and that he may have come into contact with Gacy.
The DNA sample showed there was no genetic association between her and any of the unidentified Gacy victims, Dart said.
However, after it was uploaded to the Combined DNA Index System, her profile matched that of unidentified human skeletal remains found 13 years ago in New Jersey. The remains were discovered in the woods in Burlington County in April 2000, not far from where Soden was last seen.
Police obtained DNA profiles of additional half siblings of Soden, including a paternal half sibling.
Genetic testing was performed by University of North Texas Center for Human Identification and investigators concluded the remains are that of Steven Soden. His cause of death remains undetermined.
"It's truly amazing what can be accomplished if people communicate and work well together," said Arthur J. Eisenberg, co-director of University of North Texas Center for Human Identification.
Gacy killed 33 teenage boys and young men in Chicago from 1972 to 1978 and was executed in 1994. Seven of his victims remain unidentified.
Since 2011, Dart has prioritized efforts to identify the unidentified Gacy victims and bring closure to their families. Since then, one of the unidentified victims, William George Bundy, has been identified; seven missing persons cases have been closed -- five of them were found alive, two died of natural causes.
Two unidentified deceased people unrelated to the Gacy investigation have been identified, including Steven Soden.
Anyone who believes their male relative may have been a Gacy victim is asked to call (708) 865-6244.