The death of a 22-year-old man from Chicago has been solved nearly 30 years later, thanks in part to the Cook County sheriff's search for the unidentified victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
Sheriff Tom Dart announced Wednesday Edward Beaudion likely was killed in 1978 by a Missouri man named Jerry Jackson, who confessed to the murder but was never charged and has since passed away.
A new lead in Beaudion's death came after Dart obtained DNA profiles in 2011 for Gacy's eight unidentified victims and publicly asked anyone with missing loved ones between 1972 and 1979 to come forward.
Beaudion disappeared after attending a wedding on July 23, 1978, Dart said. The car he borrowed from his sister to get to the reception was found in Missouri on Aug. 15, 1978, in the possession of Jackson, who was extradited to Chicago.
Jackson confessed that he killed Beaudion during a fight and dumped his body in an abandoned area off I-55. The body wasn't recovered, though, and Jackson received a four-year sentence for car theft.
On April 2, 2008, a family stumbled upon the remains of a skeleton while walking in the Black Partridge Woods in Lemont and contacted the Cook County Sheriff's Police. The bones were determined to be human, but the Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death "undetermined."
In October 2011, Dart announced he was reopening the Gacy investigation to identify Gacy's unidentified victims. Ruth Rodriguez and her father, Louis Beaudion, contacted the sheriff's office about Edward Beaudion and submitted DNA samples.
As part of a protocol introduced by Dart in 2011, the DNA samples and DNA from the remains were sent in October 2013 to a lab the department uses in Texas.
This year, the Texas lab confirmed the bones found in Lemont shared DNA with the samples submitted by Rodriguez and Louis Beaudion. On Feb. 26 the remains were confirmed to be those of Edward Beaudion.
Dart said he conducted a dig of Black Partridge Woods on April 1 and discovered additional bones belonging to Beaudion. The Medical Examiner's Office concluded his death was a homicide by unspecified means.
Jackson, who later changed his name to Jerry Cole, passed away on May 29, 2013, in Missouri in the same town where he was arrested for the stolen car.
Dart said he accompanied the Beaudion family earlier this month to the area where Beaudion's body laid for more than 30 years. The family marked the area with a cross in honor of Beaudion.