SALT LAKE CITY — An investigation into identifying additional victims of one of America's most notorious serial killers has led to authorities identifying the remains of a man found in Utah.

John Wayne Gacy, of Illinois, was responsible for murdering more than 30 boys and young men between 1972 and 1978. He also dressed as a clown at parties and charity events. Gacy was executed in 1994.

Since then, Chicago authorities have continued their efforts to identify victims linked to  Gacy that to this day remain unidentified. They have collected DNA samples from more than 40 families in the Chicago area who have missing loved ones.

Recently, a sample was taken from the family of 21-year-old Daniel Raymond Noe, of Peoria, Ill. Noe disappeared nearly 34 years ago.

Noe was working in Bellingham, Wash., when he told his father on Sept. 30, 1978, that he wanted to return home to go to college at Northwestern University, according to the Cook County Sheriff's Office in Illinois. Noe told his family he was going to hitchhike across the U.S., which his family noted wasn't unusual for him.

Noe was never heard from again.

In 2010, hunters looking for antlers in a rugged area between Mt. Olympus and Millcreek Canyon in Salt Lake County came across some skeletal remains, including a skull. The remains were sent to the University of Northern Texas Center for Human Identification  for possible identification.

As Cook County authorities recently tried to place names with some of Gacy's unidentified victims, they took DNA samples from the Noe family. Their DNA did not match with the unidentified Gacy victims. But it did match with the remains found in Utah.

Through further tests, Daniel Noe's identity was discovered. Although he was not a Gacy victim, authorities say it was because of the ongoing Gacy investigation that he was identified.

"The family of Daniel Noe would like to express our sincere gratitude to Sheriff Tom Dart, detective Jason Moran and the Cook County Sheriff's Department and the Unified Police Department in Utah for their diligence in locating our loved one after a 34-year absence. Without their help we would not have closure, and Daniel would not be coming home to finally be laid to rest," the Noe family said in a prepared statement.

Unified police do not know how Daniel Noe died, but do not suspect foul play based on the area where his remains were found. Noe was an avid hiker and outdoorsman, according to friends. The area where his remains were found were well off the main trail in a very rugged area. Investigators say it's unlikely anyone went to that area to commit a murder or dump a body.

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam