Robert Hutton, long thought to be the victim of gruesome serial killer John Wayne Gacy, was found alive and living in Montana, Chicago-area authorities said after another investigation of Gacy's crimes.
The Cook County Sheriff's office reopened the Gacy files in an attempt to identify eight victims. Hutton, who was 21 when family members lost contact with him in Chicago in 1972, fit the profile of many of Gacy's victims and was presumed to have been one of them, according to the Sun-Times.
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The cold case trail led authorities to rural Montana, where they found Hutton, 62, alive and well. He reportedly traveled as vagabond, hitchhiking from state to state looking for construction jobs and other work.
A Cook County deputy traveled to Montana in April to meet and identify Hutton.
"I said, 'Well your sister thinks you could have been killed by John Gacy and that's why you haven't been around,'" Cook County Sheriff Deputy Jason Moran told the Sun-Times. "He was very surprised. He was surprised that they were still looking for him. 'You mean they're still looking for me?' and I said, 'Yes they are.'"
Hutton's sister had contacted the sheriff's office in February 2012 about their efforts to find more Gacy victims. Hutton and his family have since been reunited.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart told WLS-TV that in the chaos of the Gacy investigation
, identifying victims was a challenge from the start.
"Back in those days, missing people — I don't want to say it was dismissed. If it was a high-profile one, obviously there was a lot of attention there, but, by and large, people thought, okay, he walked away," Dart told WLS-TV. "He took off. He'll come back."
The sheriff's department has identified one victim since reopening Gacy's files in 2011. William George Bundy, a 19-year-old Chicago native and Senn High School dropout, was positively identified as one of at least 33 people Gacy killed from 1972 to 1978, deputies said.
Bundy was one of 29 bodies found on Gacy's property in 1978. Gacy was executed in 1994.
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