Detective Who Led John Wayne Gacy Investigation Dies - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Detective Who Led John Wayne Gacy Investigation Dies

A memorial gathering and mass for Kozenczak was held Friday morning in Des Plaines

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    Detective Who Led John Wayne Gacy Investigation Dies
    FILE PHOTO -- This is John Wayne Gacy's police arrest photo from Dec. 21, 1978. Following intensive research, investigation and surveillance, Gacy was arrested by the Des Plaines (Ill.) Police Department on Thursday, Dec. 21, 1978. After being charged with and serving time for 33 murders, Gacy was executed in 1994 by lethal injection. Today, Monday, Nov. 23, 1998, technicians began preliminary work on a possible excavation at an apartment building on Chicago's Northwest Side in search of as many as four more possible victims of the mass murderer. The apartment building at one time, was the home of Gacy's mother, and Gacy had done some construction work there. The information regarding the location was recently released from a retired Chicago police officer who said he had seen Gacy carrying a shovel near the area at about 3 a.m. one day in 1975. The former officer reportedly thought little of the Gacy sighting until three years later, when Gacy was charged with 33 murders. The apartment building is about four miles away from Gacy's house. (Des Plaines Police Department, Tim Boyle)

    Joseph Kozenczak, the suburban Chicago police detective credited with leading the investigation that nabbed serial killer John Wayne Gacy, has died. He was 75.

    G.L. Hills Funeral Home owner Graham Hills confirmed that the former Des Plaines police chief and 27-year veteran of the department died Wednesday. Kozenczak had been feeling ill for a while, but his health had significantly declined within the past two weeks, his wife, Karen, told the Daily Herald.

    Kozenczak's experience as a military police officer and continued education helped him become a great police officer, but his natural aptitude for police work really caused him to excel, according to Karen Kozenczak.

    "Good policemen just have innate abilities, and he was one of those," she said. "He was a great friend, soul mate, husband, father and someone dedicated to the pursuit of justice."

    Joe Kozenczak served as chief investigator on the Gacy case that began in 1978 with the disappearance of Des Plaines teenager Robert Piest. Gacy, a building contractor and amateur clown, ultimately was arrested and convicted of luring 33 young men and boys to his Chicago-area home and strangling them between 1972 and 1978. He was executed in 1994.

    Kozenczak was honored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for his work on the case.

    A memorial gathering and mass for Kozenczak was held Friday morning in Des Plaines.