EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- Michael Noe and his family don't have to question what happened to then 21-year-old Daniel Noe.
"We've always wondered what happened," said Michael. "Was he in an accident, did he have amnesia, was he in a witness protection program or something?"
Michael said it's relieving to find out his older brother died on Mount Olympus in Utah, while hitchhiking back to Northwestern University in 1978, and not at the hands of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
"It appears he decided to, as a diversion, go hiking there," said Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff. "A friend who dropped him off, the two of them were avid hikers."
"I think there's a lot of relief knowing he wasn't a victim," Michael said. "He died doing something he liked."
Though not one of Gacy's victim's, it was the ongoing search to identify those victims that initially prompted Daniel's parents to submit DNA.
Michael said those samples were taken at his parents Washington, Illinois home in May. In July, they were told Daniel wasn't a match tested against seven Gacy victims.
"He was going through an area where Gacy had been known to grab people. It fit the time frame," Dart said.
Despite their failure, authorities then put the information into a missing person's database, which led them to Utah.
Michael said his family's story is proof to never give up, no matter how difficult the process.
"Knowing we were able to bring his remains home and we'll finally have closure and have a final resting place him, it's a good feeling," he said.
Visitation for Daniel Noe will be Monday, September 24 from 5-7 p.m. at Deiters Funeral Home in Washington.
His funeral will be at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday at St. Patrick Church.