In December 1978, the sudden disappearance of teenager Robert Piest was followed by a landmark investigation that ended with serial killer John Wayne Gacy’s arrest. Netflix’s three-part docuseries ‘Conversations With a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes’ focuses on John’s life and crimes and delves into the circumstances leading up to his arrest. Dr. Kim Byers-Lund, who was Rob’s friend, co-worker, and one of the last people to have seen him alive, recollects what happened on the show. So, if you’re curious to find out more, we’ve got you covered.
Who is Dr. Kim Byers-Lund?
Kim was about 17 years old and worked at a pharmacy in suburban Illinois in 1978. While she was employed as a clerk, 15-year-old Rob restocked shelves. On December 11, 1978, a freezing evening, Kim borrowed Rob’s jacket because she had forgotten hers; the constant wave of people coming into the store meant she often felt cold working in the front. At some point, Kim developed a roll of film and then put the receipt in the jacket pocket. Kim later remembered that she initially threw it away but, for some unexplainable reason, decided to save it later.
The receipt would become an essential cog in John’s investigation. Kim remembered John coming into the store regarding a contracting job on December 11. Sometime that evening, he went with Rob out back to talk about a summer job that would pay him more. It was the last time the teenager was ever seen. Once Rob was reported missing, the authorities looked into who visited the pharmacy and learned of John.
The police checked John’s criminal history and found that he had been convicted of sodomy in 1968 in Iowa. Soon, he became a person of interest but had denied talking to Rob. However, during a superficial search of his house in Norwood Park Township, Illinois, the investigators found the photo receipt in the trash with Kim’s name on it. This proved that Rob was present in the house and paved the way for a search warrant. Then, the police found more than 20 dead bodies buried in John’s crawl space, leading to his eventual conviction.
Where is Dr. Kim Byers-Lund Now?
While John buried most of his victims on his property, he dumped Rob’s body in the Des Plaines River in Illinois. The remains were found in April 1979, and Kim then testified at John’s trial. Later, she talked about the experience influencing how she raised her children. As a mother of three daughters and a son, Kim always taught her kids never to trust strangers. She urged them to fight and scream if they were taken.
Kim now runs her own practice as a physician in Coronado, California. Apart from that, she has been a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Reserves for more than eight years. Since then, Kim has gone on several humanitarian and operational missions, including providing medical care for Afghan evacuees recently as part of Operation Allies Refuge. Kim also had to face several hardships early on, like dealing with cancer, but she seems to be doing much better now. From what we can tell, the grandmother now lives in California.
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