A notorious Serial Killer
d, and murder
ed over thirty young Chicago
men over the course of three years. His life reads like a novel written by Norman Rockwell
, then adapted for the screen by Clive Barker
and directed by Greg Araki
. Although it is not known if he actually killed any children he met during his gigs as a clown
, he is still an inspiration
for scary clown
bands such as KISS
or the Insane Clown Posse
, and also for various comic book
villains drawn by Todd McFarlane
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was born to Irish American parents in Chicago in 1942. He enjoyed the stereotypical white American upbringing of the time: Middle class neighborhood, Catholic school education, participation in the Boy Scouts, even a paper route and a job as a grocery clerk. At the age of 11, he developed a blood clot in his brain, probably as the result of trauma to the head. The source claims he was playing on a swing set and got hit in the head with a swing, but I can't see how anyone would remember this five years later at the age of 16, when the clot was finally discovered and dissolved through medication. During this period of time, Gacy suffered several blackouts as a result of the clot. At the age of 17, he developed a heart condition that was never specifically diagnosed. Although he was frequently hospitalized as a result of heart trouble over the rest of his life, he never had a heart attack.
When he was in his late teens, things began to fall apart for Gacy. His alcoholic father would beat his mother and verbally abuse his children, which put stress on the boy. He attended four different high schools in his senior year, then dropped out and ran away to Las Vegas, where he worked as a janitor and took other odd jobs before moving back home and enrolling in business college.
Gacy left college with a natural talent for salesmanship, and took a management position at Nunn Bush. He excelled at the position, and soon found himself managing a store in Springfield, Illinois. It was there that he met co-worker Marlynn Myers, whose parents owned a string of Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Iowa. He married Myers and started working for his in-laws, starting from the ground up and working for up to 14 hours a day. When he wasn't working, he was volounteering for the Iowa Jaycees doing community service. He soon found himself living the American Dream once more: a nice place in Waterloo, Iowa with a son and daughter, and a campaign for presidency of the Jaycees.
Of course, if we're talking about the American Dream, we can't leave out the ugly underside. Throughout Gacy's tenure with the Jaycees, he was plagued by rumors that he was hanging around boys a little too often, and even propositioning a few that worked at his fast food restaurant. In 1968, things finally came to a head when the 18 year old boy Mark Miller came forward and claimed that he was tied up and raped by Gacy while visiting the man's home. Gacy denied the charges and came back with the somewhat less sordid story that Miller had done it willingly, for money. Four months later, Gacy hired another youth to beat up Miller, but Miller got away and reported the incident to the police. Under questioning, the assailant fingered Gacy as the man who hired him.
On a Judge's orders, Gacy underwent a psychiatric evaluation and was declared fit to stand trial, but suffering from an incurable antisocial personality. Gacy was found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years in an Iowa state prison. Shortly after he started his sentence, Gacy's wife divorced him, for obvious reasons.
Gacy behaved like a model prisoner, and such behavior paid off when his parole was approved 18 months later. Out of jail, Gacy headed home to Chicago, where he moved in with his mother and took a job as a chef in a local restaurant. John Wayne Gacy, Sr. had died during Jr.'s time in prison, and Gacy Jr. suffered from depression at the knowledge that he had never been able to come to terms with his father, whom he loved in spite of the abuse he had received. Still, he was enthusiastic at his new job, and soon moved into a place of his own into a nice Chicago neighborhood. Only a few months after his parole was up, however, he ran into trouble with the law once again on disorderly conduct charges, when he forced a young boy he met in a bus terminal to perform sexual acts on him. Gacy was extremely lucky this time: all charges against him had to be dropped when the boy never appeared at the court proceedings.
In 1972, Gacy married Carole Hoff, an insecure divorcee and mother of two daughters that knew of Gacy's prison experience, but believed him to be reformed, and a good provider for her children. The Gacys became a very popular family in their neighborhood due to their frequent and extravagant parties, despite the pervasive stench that their guests had noticed pervading through the home.
In 1974, Gacy quit his job as a chef and went into business for himself as a painter and remodeller. He told friends that he hired teenage boys in order to keep his costs down, but in reality he would attempt to seduce his assistants. He also threw himself into several local volounteer projects, in order to set himself a foundation to run for public office. He attracted the attention of the local Democratic Party members by volounteering to clean up their headquarters, and by dressing up as Pogo the Clown to entertain children at local parties and events. He was nominated to the local street lighting commission, then made the jump to secretary treasurer in 1975.
By this time, John and Carole had grown apart, first sexually, then emotionally. John was having wild mood swings and leaving pictures of naked men and boys lying around the house. When Carole asked him about the photographs, Gacy readily admitted that he was more attracted to men than he was to her. In March 1976, the couple was divorced. At about the same time, more rumors were circulating about Gacy and the teenaged boys that were working for him. At least one was based in fact: During the cleanup of the Democrat's headquarters, Gacy had approached 16 year old Tony Antonucci and propositioned him, then backed off when the youth rebuffed his advances. A month later, he tricked the Antonucci into a pair of handcuffs and tried to undress him. The youth got free, wrestled Gacy to the ground, then handcuffed him, releasing him only when Gacy promised not to touch him again. I suppose that the labor market must have been incredibly tight back then, because Antonucci continued to work for Gacy without incident for another year.
During his time in Chicago, several youths who either worked for Gacy or had tangential relationships with him had disappeared mysteriously. The police seemed to be unable to put two and two together until the disappearance of 15 year old Robert Piest, who worked at a pharmacy and was last heard from when he told his mother that he was going to talk to a contractor who had offered him a job. Gacy was discovered to be the contractor, and Lieutenant Joseph Kozenczak was sent to his home to pick him up for questioning. At the door, Gacy claimed a death in the family prevented him from leaving the house at the time, and offered to come by later. He did eventually show up at the police station, where he claimed ignorance of the boy's disappearance and left. Kozenczak was suspicious enough of Gacy's actions to run a background check, and was surprised to discover the previous sodomy charge. This was enough to obtain a search warrant for Gacy's house.
On December 13, 1978, police entered Gacy's house while Gacy was away, and confiscated a pile of suspicious evidence, such as:
In the crawl space
beneath the house, police noticed a rancid
smell, and saw that the earth was sprinkled with lime
. However, there was nothing found that directly linked Gacy with any crime. When Gacy was called in to the station and told of the articles the police had confiscated, he flew into a rage and demanded to see his laywer
. On instructions from his attorney, he refused to sign his Miranda
waiver, and eventually had to be released by the police due to lack of anything to arrest him on. They did put Gacy under 24 hour surveillance
as they contacted his friends to try and learn more about him. However, few of Gacy's friends could believe that John would be capable of killing a teenaged boy. Finally, the police decided to pick him up on marijuana posession charges so that they could hold him while lab work was done on the confiscated materials.
During this time, some critical evidence was discovered against Gacy. One of the rings that was found at his house belonged to another teenager who had disappeared. Three former employees of Gacy had disappeared. And the receipt for the film had belonged to a coworker who had given it to Piest. Additionally, Gacy eventually did confess to killing a man, but claimed it was self-defense, and that he had hidden the body beneath his garage. When medical examiners showed up at the Gacy house to oversee the digging, they immediately recognized the rancid smell as the stench of death. Eventually the entire property was levelled and excavated as the police unearthed body after body.
In late December, Gacy confessed to police that he had killed 30 people, and buried most of them beneath his house. The first one had been in 1972, and the second had been in 1974, a year and a half after his marriage to Hoff. When a body found in the Des Plaines River was linked to Gacy, Gacy admitted that he had started disposing of his victims there when he ran out of space beneath his house. In the end, 26 bodies were found buried in Gacy's property, one was found encased in the concrete of his patio, one was found beneath the recreation room in Gacy's house, and five more were found in the Des Plaines River, for a total of 33 victims. 9 of the bodies have never been identified.
Gacy's lawyers tried to defend him by reason of insanity, but it didn't wash with the jury, who deliberated for two hours before they found him guilty. Gacy received 21 life sentences and 12 death sentences, and was shipped off to the Menard Correctional Center. After numerous appeals were rejected, Gacy was put to death by lethal injection in 1994, at the age of 52.
When asked if he had any last words, he replied "Yeah, kiss my ass."
Thanks to www.crimelibrary.com's extensive coverage. You can read it yourself at http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial/gacy/gacymain.htm
To read Charles Nemo's depiction of Gacy in prison (he visited him four times), check out http://www.the-strange.com/jwg/