Archive for December 28th, 2011

Why? How?

Recently 2 different people that were thought to be victims of John Wayne Gacy were found alive. I kept wondering how they could just go missing and not contact their families. Other have asked the same thing.

Oregon Live spoke with the most recent person to be found and although it did not satisfy my curiosity I’m going to share it here. It does answer in a shallow way.

 More than 30 years ago, Theodore Szal abandoned his car at a Chicago airport and didn’t look back.

“I threw my keys away down the sewer grate so I couldn’t change my mind,” Szal said, 59.

When Theodore “Ted” Szal, then 24, disappeared in March 1977, his family did not report him missing to authorities because he had a history of disengaging from his family for periods of time, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.

In November, Cook County authorities sought to identify serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s remaining victims. The circumstances of Szal’s disappearance matched the Gacy victim profile, authorities said.

Authorities interviewed the family, only to find that there were no matches between Szal’s parents’ DNA and the seven remaining unidentified Gacy victims. Authorities then performed background checks on Szal and located him in Beaverton.

On Monday, Beaverton police confirmed Szal’s identity. A Cook County detective told Szal that his family in Chicago was looking for him.

Man thought to be John Wayne Gacy victim found alive in BeavertonMan thought to be John Wayne Gacy victim found alive in BeavertonTed Szal left Chicago in March of 1977, abandoning everything, and his family suspected he was a victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Instead his family found out this week he was alive, living in Beaverton.

Growing up, Szal said he felt like the “black sheep” of his family. While his three pretty sisters were cheerleaders in school, he was more of a class clown, he said.

After a family disagreement in which he felt betrayed, Szal decided to leave for good. 

“I just had to leave town,” Szal said. “I just had to go. ”

Szal rebuilt a new life, traveled through Colorado and lived in California for about a decade, working in construction.  In 1989, one of his jobs brought him to Springfield. He met and married a woman he met at a Safeway store that he was remodeling.

Szal and his wife, Debbie Szal, later moved to Beaverton and settled into an apartment near the downtown area. Szal worked maintenance jobs, while his wife worked as the property manager of their apartment complex.

john-wayne-gacyjpg-9389f1b8caa08d9e.jpgThe Associated Press John Wayne Gacy

During that time, he occasionally thought about calling or writing his family, but the pain of the betrayal was too great, he said. “Not just everyone writes their family off,” Szal said. “But I did.” He thought that with the advances of the Internet, his family could easily find and contact him.

His family didn’t forget about him. Szal’s father, Ted Szal Sr., carried a picture of his son in his shirt pocket since he left 34 years ago, he learned this week from a Cook County detective.

Szal relayed a message to his father from the detective: He was still fishing, just the way his dad taught him when he was growing up.

He has no other words for his family yet, he said. He’s still trying to digest everything that has happened. Yes, he left home, bitter and thick-headed, he said. But that’s changed. He didn’t know his family thought he may have been dead, and now he wants to make amends.

Give him a few days, he said, and he’ll call.

“I’ve forgiven them,” Szal said.

— Dominique Fong

I do not understand even still. I hope the disagreement was a doozy. I could never have done that to my family. If nothing else I would have called 1 a year or so just to try to piss them off. LOL

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