For 33 years, his family feared the worst – that he might have been a victim of Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Turns out Harold Wayne Lovell was just living in Florida.
Lovell, 53, was reunited with his family this week after police finally tracked him down, decades after he failed to return from a construction job, Chicago’s NBC affiliate reports.
Lovell says he didn’t know his family thought he was dead. “It’s very emotional, it still is,” he said of the reunion. “It’s been two days, and I’m still crying.”
Lovell left Chicago for Florida because of a “family situation,” saying he “couldn’t stay around the house any longer.” But it was a scene of joy when he caught up with his siblings in Alabama this week.
“I almost gave up hope in the late ’90s,” said Lovell’s brother, Tim, 48. “I dreamed about it. I’ve only had maybe a 1 percent inkling that I’d ever, ever see my brother again, and here we are. It’s just amazing.”
Harold Lovell says he did do occasional yard work for Gacy, who was executed in 1994 for murdering at least 33 boys and young men in the ’70s. “A few times, he actually tried to get me into the house, but I wouldn’t go,” says Lovell. “And thank God that I didn’t.”
One bittersweet element to the story, though, is that Lovell’s mother Kathy died not knowing her son was still alive.
“It’s heartbreaking, because the mother never gave up,” says Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. “We would love to have been able to talk with his mom before she died and said, ‘Your worst dreams about him being a victim of this monster? It didn’t happen! He’s alive, and we found him.’ ”