Cook County Sheriff’s investigators have identified the body of a 1978 murder victim. The cold case was solved as part of the ongoing search for victims of notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
The 1978 victim is Edward Beaudion, 22. His sister, Ruth Rodriguez, tells WGN she never really believed Gacy killed her brother. But when Sheriff Tom Dart put out a call for families of missing people to come forward and submit their DNA to a database, she thought it was worth a shot just to see if her brother might be one of Gacy’s unidentified victims.
Edward Beaudion disappeared in July, 1978 after he dropped off a friend after a wedding. Three weeks later police in Caruthersville, Missouri arrested Jerry Jackson, a small-time crook, when he was found driving Beaudion’s car.
Jackson was extradited to Chicago, where he reportedly told police he met Beaudion in downtown Chicago, had a fight with him and punched him in the face, knocking him out. He said he stuffed his body in the car and then drove it out to the southwest suburbs and dumped the body into a wooded area. That body was never found despite a search and Jerry Jackson was never charged with Beaudion’s murder — only with stealing his car.
In 2008 hitchhikers discovered a partial skeleton in Lemont. But that investigation never went anywhere until 2011, when Sheriff Dart began testing DNA and requesting that families submit DNA samples for comparison.
Edward Beaudion was not a victim of John Wayne Gacy, but his family was able to get closure by discovering his body.
Jerry Jackson died last year of natural causes at the age of 62. He never faced murder charges for the death of Edward Beaudion. He spent four years in prison for stealing his car.
Sheriff Dart says while the Gacy investigation that he opened in 2011 has only resulted in one of the eight unidentified bodies being identified, he still credits this effort with closing three other missing persons cases. It also led to the discovery of five other missing individuals who were found alive, and three others who were pronounced dead later in life.
Beaudion’s family has place a cross at the site where his body was found.