For 34 years Theodore "Ted" Szal's father carried around a photo of his son, who disappeared in 1977. The man's most recent clue to his son's whereabouts was that he may have been murdered by serial-killer clown John Wayne Gacy--that is, until this week when everything changed.
"I believe Christmas has come early for the Szal family," said Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart in a news release. "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."
In his youth, Szal apparently had a history of severing ties with his family, only to turn up again later. But the last time anyone saw him before now was back in '77 when he showed up to ask for money.
The circumstances of Szal's disappearance matched up with the Gacy-target prototype--his age; the date he went missing; his car being found near Gacy's house--so Cook County Sheriff's Deputies began investigating him as potentially one the serial killer's seven remaining unidentified victims.
When sheriff's deputies called Szal in Oregon, he apparently remained silent on the line for a minute, then delivered a heartbreaking line to his father, who'd been looking for him all these years.
While talking with the detective, Szal, the sheriff's office said, asked him to relay a message to his father. "He wanted his dad to know that he was still fishing, just the way his dad taught him when he was growing up,"