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Home > Press Page

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 —Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced that Theodore “Ted” Szal, missing since March of 1977, believed by his family to be a victim of John Wayne Gacy, has been found alive and living his life in the state of Oregon.  “I believe Christmas has come early for the Szal family,” said Sheriff Dart, “Being able to tell an 88 year old father that his son, whose picture he has been carrying around for 34 years in his breast pocket, has been found alive is something special.”

According to Sheriff Dart, Ted who is currently 59 years old and living in Beaverton, Oregon left the Chicagoland area on his own free will, he was 24 years old when he decided to leave Illinois.

After the media reported that Sheriff Dart was working to identify the remaining unidentified Gacy victims, Ted’s sister Marcia Carlson contacted the Sheriff’s office on October 18th via the internet.  

On November 4th Detective Moran interviewed Marcia and she related that Ted disappeared in March of 1977 at the age of 24.  Ted was married, but going through a divorce and was residing with his wife in Glen Ellyn at the time.  He was not reported missing to authorities because Ted had a history of disengaging from his family for periods of time and then reengaging. 

On November 10th, the Detective interviewed Judy Morrison, who is another sister of Ted’s and resides in New York.  She related substantially the same information as Marcia, but added that Ted's vehicle was found abandoned at O’Hare International Airport shortly after his disappearance.  Judy reiterated that Ted and his wife had marital problems. Both sisters mentioned they had no further contact with Ted’s wife after his disappearance.
On November 12th, Detective Moran met with Marcia, Ted’s third sister Gayle Braffett, and Ted’s parents, Ted Szal who is 87 years old and Anna Gill who is 79 years old.  They have been divorced since the 1970's.  Anna confirmed that she last saw Ted in March of 1977 when he borrowed money from her. 

At this time it was decided to collect family reference samples (Buccal Swabs) from Ted’s mother and father because the circumstances surrounding his disappearance fit the Gacy victim profile: male/white, age, date of disappearance, proximity to crime (vehicle found abandon at O'Hare which is very close to Gacy's house), and even Ted's job at the time was construction related – working for a black top company.  While conducting the swab on Ted’s father, who was in tears describing his son, Detective Moran learned that his father has kept a picture of Ted in his shirt pocket since he went missing 34 years ago.

Last week the University of North Texas - Center for Human Identification sent the DNA results back and there were no matches/similarities between the parents and the seven remaining unidentified Gacy victims.  A simple check of Ted’s identifiers was searched by the Sheriff’s Police Department which consisted of checking Ted's name, date of birth, and social security number.  The check revealed that Ted was alive and residing in Beaverton, Oregon. 

On Monday afternoon of this week the Beaverton Police Department was able to make contact with Ted to confirm his identity. 

Later on Monday evening, when Detective Moran spoke with Ted and informed him that he was reaching out to him because his family in Chicago was looking for him, there was a bit of a silence on the phone. Ted was completely surprised and searched for words. After talking with the detective for a while he asked him to relay a message to his dad; he wanted his dad to know that he was still fishing, just the way his dad taught him when he was growing up. He mentioned to the detective that he left the Chicagoland area due to the break-up of his marriage and a misunderstanding with his family.

Yesterday, Ted’s family was notified that he is alive and living in Oregon.  They were of course ecstatic to hear the news and amazed that he was in Oregon.  The family is planning the best way to contact each other right now and will do it at their convenience. “There is nothing like the Christmas spirit to bring families together, I wish Ted and his family years of happiness,” said Sheriff Dart.

Ted’s family has requested that the following statement be included in the release, “While we are so relieved to have discovered that Ted is alive and well, our thoughts and
prayers are also with the families of the victims – both known and yet to be determined – of John Wayne Gacy.  We are so thankful to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Detective Jason Moran. The work they are doing is meaningful and important.  With the news they were able to bring us, we do ask that our privacy be respected while we sort through the next steps with our family.  Thank you." 

Another thank you needs to be given to those in the media that help cover this story. There is no doubt you have contributed to the success of this story. Without your coverage the public would not have know about the opportunity to find a family member. The Sheriff’s office will continue to take information from those wishing to submit it, the hotline number is 1-800-942-1950 or they can submit information from our website at

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