RENSSELAER , Ind. (AP) — A 19-year-old Indiana man who was last seen alive in 1982 has been identified by authorities as a victim of the late serial killer Larry Eyler.
The remains of William Joseph Lewis of Peru, Indiana, were found by a hunter in rural northwestern Indiana’s Jasper County in October 1983, but the identification only came recently when a forensics company made a DNA testing match to his family, officials announced Thursday.
Lewis was last seen by his family at a friend’s funeral in Houston, Texas, and planned to hitchhike home when he disappeared, Jasper County Coroner Andy Boersma said.
Eyler confessed to at least 20 killings before dying in an Illinois prison in 1994, where he was on death row for the 1984 murder of 15-year-old Danny Bridges of Chicago.
He told his attorney about picking up a young man in 1982 along U.S. 41 near Vincennes in southwestern Indiana, killing him and dumping his body in a field near Rensselaer, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of Chicago, Boersma said.
Joshua Shuck, a nephew of Lewis, said his grandmother never gave up hope that he was still alive until she died last year.
Shuck, who was born after his uncle disappeared, said the family was grateful that investigators and others never gave up trying to make an identification.
Officials had announced in April that remains of another Eyler victim found in northwestern Indiana in 1983 were identified through genetic genealogy as John Ingram Brandenburg Jr. of Chicago.
Brandenburg was among four young men found on an abandoned farm in rural Lake Village in October 1983, according to the Newton County Coroner’s Office. Two others, Michael Bauer and John Bartlett, had already been identified, leaving one victim nameless.