The mother of serial killer John Wayne Gacy's youngest known victim wants to exhume the body of her son because of doubts that authorities identified the remains properly.
Sherry Marino is on a 35 year-quest to get closure in the death of her 14-year-old son, Michael. She buried the body authorities claimed was her son in a Catholic cemetery and visits that grave regularly. A nagging suspicion lingers that the remains might not really be her son.
"I wondered from the beginning. It took a long time to identify Michael," she wrote in an e-mail. "The clothing did not match what Michael was wearing."
Michael disappeared on Oct. 25, 1976. He was last seen with his friend, Kenneth Parker, who was also reported missing and ruled a Gacy victim.
After serial killer Gacy was arrested in December 1978 and admitted that dozens of bodies were buried in the crawl space of his Norwood, Ill., home, Marino submitted dental records and X-rays of her missing teen son.
In April 1980, nearly four years after her son was reported missing, police told Marino that "Body 14" pulled from Gacy's house of horrors belonged to her son.
"I was in shock," she said.
The pain from the loss of her son is still raw.
"I have a lot of nightmares, and I still cry all the time. I have always just wanted to be certain, one way or the other."
The 67-year-old mom has always questioned why it took so long, nearly two years, to identify the remains.
"It was one of the last bodies identified, even though it was one of the earlier ones recovered," said Robert M. Stephenson, Marino's attorney.
Stephenson began helping Marino in May. After obtaining the autopsy report done on Body 14, Stephenson and Marino noticed some discrepancies between the autopsy and Michael's medical history.
On Thursday, Stephenson and his firm, Becker Stephenson, filed a request with Cook County to exhume the body to conduct a DNA test on the remains. Marino said that it was tough to take this step.
"It is very difficult, but it has been very difficult for 30 plus years … having doubts, and not knowing for certain. I am hopeful that I will finally know for sure," she said.
An autopsy report shows that the partially mummified body was found with dark trousers, maroon-colored socks and canvaslike shoes. The body had been stuffed into a plastic bag. Marino said that doesn't fit her recollection of her son's last outfit.
The autopsy noted that the remains showed the presence of a second molar in the upper left jaw. Michael's dental records from a few months before his disappearance show that he didn't have the second molar.
Also, the pathological report said that the remains showed that the person's collar bone had possibly been broken and healed. Marino said that her son never broke his collar bone. In court documents, Marino and her attorneys claim that if the collar bone had been broken at the time of death, it would not have healed.
The first court hearing in the matter is scheduled for Oct. 6.
"I can't even pretend to put myself in her shoes ... 31 years of wondering if it's actually your son buried in the ground," said Stephenson. "She is at least encouraged to think that she will have a definitive answer."
Serial killer Gacy was executed in 1994 after being found guilty of killing 33 men and boys.