In the mid-1970s, Bill Dorsch lived just around the corner from a small apartment building at 6114 W. Miami where John Wayne Gacy was under contract to do low-level construction and maintenance. Dorsch had grown up close by and had stayed in the neighborhood, as had his brother and sister, who lived in different houses at the same intersection, as well as a friend Lynn, who was now married to another police officer, Bruno Muczynski, and lived in the garden apartment of 6114.
Dorsch saw Gacy around. His wife, who ran a local insurance office, had hired Gacy for some remodeling, and Gacy had even had the Dorsches to dinner once, nearby in unincorporated Norwood Park.
The area was full of civil servants and their families, living in unassuming single- and multi-family homes. Elston is one of the city’s few diagonal routes, cutting across the strict north-south, east-west grid, but back then, Dorsch says, the corner of Miami and Elston would get so quiet at night you could lie down in the middle of the street. Working homicide, Dorsch often returned home in the wee hours. One such morning in 1975, Dorsch was driving into the alley behind his house when he was surprised to see Gacy walking across the yard of the corner building–carrying a shovel.
When Dorsch asked him what he was doing out so late, Gacy replied, “You know me, Bill, never enough hours in the day.”
Three years later, in 1978, Gacy was arrested and then the horrifying contents of the crawlspace under his home came to light: the remains of dozens of young men and boys. Remembering that strange encounter, Dorsch, who’d moved away, did what he says anyone would: he called the Cook County sheriff’s office, which, for reasons that remain somewhat murky, was handling the investigation. “I told the desk man what I’d seen and suggested they might want to take a look at that building,” Dorsch says.
As far as he knew, his lead was forwarded properly, and when nothing seemed to come of it he figured it had led to a dead end.
As Dorsch had left the neighborhood, he didn’t know that other residents had had similar realizations about Gacy.
He didn’t know that the investigators had been given plenty of reasons to be interested in the building at Miami and Elston. Or that none of them had been acted upon.