John Wayne GACY Jr.
A.K.A.: "The Killer Clown" Classification: Serial killerCharacteristics: RapeNumber of victims: 33Date of murders: 1972 - 1978Date of arrest: December 21, 1978Date of birth: March 17, 1942Victims profile: Boys and young menMethod of murder: StrangulationLocation: Chicago, Illinois, USAStatus: Executed by lethal injection in Illinois on May 10, 1994 photo gallery 1photo gallery 2 photo gallery 3photo gallery 4 photo gallery 5photo gallery 6 victims John Wayne Gacy was arrested for murder in 1979. FBI documents reflect cooperation with local authorities and Gacy's identification record or "rap sheet."
FBI - Doc. 1 Cook County Circuit Court Clerk
The "Killer Clown" - People v. John Wayne Gacy, 79C-69 et seq.
The 33 indictments of John Wayne Gacy document the State of Illinois case against one of the most prolific and notorious murderers in United States history.
Gacy, a construction contractor, lived in a quiet suburb northwest of Chicago. He made himself well known in his community for his political work and his help to charitable causes. He often appeared at children's performances dressed as a clown. But the friendly clown had another life.
The law caught up with Gacy late in 1978. The mother of a young man who disappeared after applying to Gacy for a job notified the police. A search warrant allowed police to search Gacy's home.
Warrant pages 1, 2, 3.
Authorities eventually discovered the remains of 27 corpses underneath the house, plus 2 more under the garage and driveway. Eventually Gacy told police he had thrown 4 other corpses into the DesPlaines River.
Gacy was indicted for 33 murders.
Indictment 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
He was found guilty in March of 1980.
Verdit pages 1.
Judge Louis B. Garippo sentenced him to death.
Execution pages 1, 2, 3, 4.
The Circuit Court ruling was appealed. The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the death sentence of execution by lethal injection.
Supreme Court pages 1.
On May 10, 1994, the sentence was carried out.
Clerk's Memorandum 1.
John Wayne Gacy was convicted of 33 murders of mostly teenage boys. He was sentenced to death for 12 of those murders (12 proved to have been committed after Illinois had passed post-Furman death penalty), and to natural life in prison for the others.
The bodies of most of the victims were unearthed in the crawl space under Gacy's middle class home in the Chicago suburbs.
Evidence showed that the defendant led a double life, engaging in charitable and political activities at the same time he was committing a series of sadistic torture murders. He enticed many young men to his home for homosexual liaisons, tying or handcuffing his partners then strangling or choking them. Gacy was a successful contractor, was active in the community, and often dressed up as a clown for parties.
On December 11, 1978, a 15-year-old Des Plaines high school sophomore, Robert Piest, disappeared shortly after leaving work at a pharmacy where Gacy had recently completed a remodeling job.
Police put Gacy under surveillance, and when it was learned that two teenage employees of Gacy, Gregory Godzik and John Butkovich, also had recently disappeared, the police obtained a search warrant for Gacy's home. A roll of film belonging to Piest was seized in the ensuing search.
A second search warrant was executed and three lime-covered bodies were found in the crawl space. Gacy pointed officers to the precise locations of certain bodies in the crawl space and stated that he had lured the victims to his home, either expressly for sex or through the promise of employment, and then strangled them. A total of 29 bodies were recovered on the property and 4 more were discovered in a nearby river.
Gacy recanted his confession and did not testify at trial, where he asserted an insanity defense unsuccessfully.
People v. Gacy, 468 N.E.2d 1171 (Ill. 1984) (Direct Appeal).
People v. Gacy, 530 N.E.2d 1340 (Ill. 1988) (PCR).
Gacy v. Welborn, 994 F.2d 305 (7th Cir. 1993) (Habeas).
Gacy v. Page, 24 F.3d 887 (7th Cir. 1994) (Habeas/Stay).
A dozen deep fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe chicken from KFC, a pound of fresh strawberries and French fries.
"Kiss my ass".
John Wayne Gacy
Serial Killers Archives by David Lohr
John Wayne Gacy was born on March 17, 1942, in Chicago Illinois. According to the book Killer Clown, by Terry Sullivan and Peter Maiken, Gacy seemed to have a regular childhood with the exception of his turbulent relationship with his father, John Wayne Gacy Sr. The authors describe the father as an unpleasant, abusive alcoholic prone to physically and verbally assaulting his children. They describe Gacy as deeply loving his father and wanting desperately to gain his approval and attention, but failing to win him over. (Gacy Sr. died on Christmas Day 1965.)
After attending four high schools during his senior year and never graduating, Gacy dropped out of school and left Chicago for Las Vegas. While there, he worked part time as a janitor for Palm Mortuary. Unhappy in Vegas, he returned to Chicago a few months later.
During the early 1960’s, Gacy enrolled in a business college and developed a talent for salesmanship. A born salesman, he could talk his way in and out of practically any situation. Upon graduating, he went to work as a management trainee at Nunn Bush Shoe Co in downtown Chicago. He excelled in his position and within weeks was transferred to Springfield, Ill., to manage a men’s clothing outlet for the company, where he remained employed for nearly a year.
Shortly after his promotion, Gacy married into a wealthy family and relocated with his new bride to Waterloo, Iowa. In 1966, at the request of his father-in-law, Gacy took over management of the family’s chicken restaurant. Gacy quickly became a well-known and liked member of the community, according to later accounts in the Waterloo Courier.
However, all was not well with Gacy. The future serial killer would be arrested for the first time in 1968. The felony charge, attempting to coerce a male employee into homosexual acts, came as a big surprise to those who thought they knew this likable father of two infants, especially his wife of two years.
Gacy pled guilty to sodomy and was sentenced to 10 years in Iowa’s State Men’s Reformatory in Anamosa. His wife filed for divorce following the sentencing. Angered, Gacy informed her he did not want to see his children again and would henceforth consider her and the two kids dead.
After serving 18 months, Gacy was paroled in 1971 and moved back to Chicago. He went to work as a construction contractor and then started his own construction business. That July he remarried a recently divorced women he had met through mutual friends and, with financial assistance from his mother, moved into a house in Des Plaines, with financial help from his mother. In February 1971, Gacy again ran into trouble with the law. He was charged with the attempted rape of a young man. The charges were dropped when the victim failed to appear in court for the hearing.
Gacy had a talent for business. According to the Des Plaines Journal, he was known by local merchants as a sharp businessman, who would often undercut his business rivals' contracts by hiring on a number of high-school age employees to cut his costs. His business grew.
Gacy spent part of his leisure time hosting elaborate street parties for friends and neighbors, dressing as a clown, and entertaining children at local hospitals. He also immersed himself in organizations such as the Jaycees and the local Democratic party. As a Democratic precinct captain he once had his picture taken with First Lady Rosalyn Carter.
Gacy’s second wife divorced him in March of 1976. According to accounts in Harlan Mendenhall’s book, Fall of the House of Gacy, Gacy's second wife felt she could no longer cope with the marriage due to her husband's unpredictable moods and bizarre obsession with homosexual magazines. The couple did not have children.
On Dec. 12, 1978, the police again focused their attention on John Wayne Gacy. Robert Piest, a teenage stock boy at a local Des Plaines pharmacy, had come up missing. Gacy was the last person seen with the boy prior to his disappearance. When investigators ran a background check on Gacy, they were surprised to discover that he had previously served time for committing sodomy on a teenage boy. With this incriminating information, investigators were able to obtain a warrant to search Gacy’s house.
During the execution of the warrant, investigators entered a crawl space located beneath the home. A rancid odor was quickly noticed. The smell was believed to be faulty sewage lines and was quickly dismissed. Without any noticeable incriminating evidence, investigators returned to headquarters to run tests on the evidence they seized.
During a review of the items confiscated from Gacy’s house, investigators soon realized that they had unknowingly seized a piece of critical evidence. One of the rings found at Gacy’s house belonged to another teenager who had disappeared a year earlier. With this new information, investigators began to realize the possible enormity of the case that was unfolding before them. Following the discovery of their new information, it was not long before investigators were able to obtain a second search warrant for Gacy’s home.
On Dec. 22, 1978, Gacy, realizing that his dark secrets were about to be exposed, confessed to police, telling them that he had murdered approximately 33 young men over the past seven years. He also drew them a detailed map to the locations of 28 shallow graves under his house and garage.
Further he admitted to dumping five others into the Des Plaines River. Gacy told detectives, "There are four Johns." He later explained that there was John the contractor, John the clown, and John the politician. The fourth person went by the name of Jack Hanley. Jack was the killer and did all the evil things.
Gacy’s murder trial began Feb. 6, 1980, in the Cook County Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. During the five-week trial the prosecution and the defense called more than 100 witnesses to testify.
The defense strategy was to establish that Gacy was insane and out of control at the time of the killings. To bolster this claim the defense put on the stand psychiatrists who had interviewed Gacy prior to trial. After the closing arguments, the jury deliberated for only two hours before finding Gacy guilty of murdering 33 people.
On March 13, 1980, Gacy was sentenced to die. Gacy was transported to Menard Correctional Center in Illinois. He would remain there for just over 14 years until he was transported to the Statesville Penitentiary near Joliet for execution.
On May 9, 1994, Gacy sat down for his last meal: fried chicken, French fries, Coke and strawberry shortcake. Prison officials later described his demeanor as "chatty . . . talking up a storm." In a phone interview shortly before his execution, he told a Knight-Tribune reporter, "There's been 11 hardback books on me, 31 paperbacks, two screenplays, one movie, one off-Broadway play, five songs, and over 5,000 articles. What can I say about it?" But of course, he quickly protested, "I have no ego for any of this garbage."
Just after midnight on May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed by lethal injection. For his last words, Gacy snarled, ''Kiss my ass.''
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994) was an American serial killer.
He was convicted and later executed for the rape and murder of 33 boys and young men between 1972 and his arrest in 1978, 27 of whom he buried in a crawl space under the floor of his house, while others were found in nearby rivers. He became notorious as the "Killer Clown" because of the many block parties he threw for his friends and neighbors, entertaining children in a clown suit and makeup, under the name of "Pogo the Clown".
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, the second of three children, to John Wayne Gacy, Sr. (June 20, 1900 – December 25, 1965), a machinist, and Marion Elaine Robinson (May 4, 1908 – December 14, 1989). Cook County marriage records provide his mother's name as Marion E. Robertson.
He was of Polish and Danish heritage. He had a troubled relationship with his father, an alcoholic who abused him and called him a "sissy". He was close to his sisters and mother, who affectionately called him "Johnny".
When Gacy was 11, he was struck on the forehead by a swing. The resulting head trauma formed a blood clot in his brain that went unnoticed until he was 16, when he began to suffer blackouts. He was prescribed medication to dissolve the clot.
After attending four high schools, Gacy dropped out before completing his senior year and left his family, heading west. After running out of money in Las Vegas, Nevada, he worked long enough to earn money to travel back home to Chicago. Without returning to high school, he enrolled in and eventually graduated from Northwestern Business College.
A management trainee position with the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company followed shortly after graduation, and in 1964, Gacy was transferred to Springfield, Illinois. There he met coworker Marlynn Myers, and they married in September 1964. He became active in local Springfield organizations, joining the Jaycees and rising to vice-president of the Springfield chapter by 1965.
Marlynn's parents, who had purchased a group of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchises, offered Gacy a job as manager of a Waterloo, Iowa KFC, and the Gacys moved there from Springfield.
Imprisonment, divorce, parole
The Gacys settled in Waterloo and had two children, a son and a daughter. Gacy worked hard at his KFC franchise but still found time to again join the Jaycees. Rumors of Gacy's homosexuality began to spread but did not stop him from being named "outstanding vice-president" of the Waterloo Jaycees in 1967. However, there was a seamier side of Jaycee life in Waterloo, one that involved prostitution, pornography, and drugs, in which Gacy was deeply involved. Gacy was cheating on his wife regularly. At the same time, Gacy opened a "club" in his basement for the young boys of Waterloo, where he allowed them to drink alcohol and made sexual advances towards them.
Gacy's middle class idyll in Waterloo came crashing down in March 1968 when two Waterloo boys, aged 16 and 15, accused him of sexually assaulting them. Gacy professed his innocence and it appeared he might beat the charges, but in August of that year he hired another Waterloo youth to beat up one of his accusers. The youth was caught and confessed all, and Gacy was arrested. Before the year was out, he was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years in the Iowa State Penitentiary.
Gacy's imprisonment was rapidly followed by his wife's petition for divorce, which was final in 1969. He never saw his children again. During his incarceration, Gacy's father died from cirrhosis, on Christmas Day 1969. He was paroled in 1970, after serving 18 months. After Gacy was released, he moved back to Illinois to live with his mother. He successfully hid this criminal record until police began investigating him for his later murders.
Businessman and political activist
Gacy moved in with his mother and got a job as a chef in a Chicago restaurant. In 1971, with his mother's financial assistance, he bought a house at 8213 West Summerdale Avenue, in an unincorporated area of Norwood Park Township, Cook County, which is surrounded by the northwest side Chicago neighborhood of Norwood Park. The house had a four-foot deep crawl space under the floor.
On February 12, 1971, Gacy was charged with disorderly conduct; a teenaged boy claimed that Gacy picked him up and tried to force him into sex. The complaint was dropped when the boy did not appear in court. The Iowa Board of Parole did not learn of this, and Gacy was discharged from parole in October 1971.
On June 22, 1972, Gacy was arrested again and charged with battery after another young man said that Gacy flashed a sheriff's badge, lured him into Gacy's car, and forced him into sex. Again charges were dropped.
In June 1972, Gacy married Carole Hoff, an acquaintance from his teenage years. Hoff and her two daughters moved into the Summerdale Avenue house. In 1975, Gacy started his own business, PDM Contractors, a construction company. At the same time, his marriage began to deteriorate. The Gacys' sex life came to a halt, and John Gacy would go out late and stay out all night. Carole Gacy found wallets with IDs from young men lying around. John Gacy began bringing gay pornography into the house. The Gacys divorced in March 1976.
Gacy became active in the local Democratic Party, first volunteering to clean the party offices. In 1975 and 1976, he served on the Norwood Park Township street lighting committee. He eventually earned the title of precinct captain. In this capacity, he met and was photographed with First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who was in town for the annual Polish Constitution Day Parade, held on May 6, 1978.
Gacy was directing the parade that year, for the third year in a row. Carter posed for pictures with Gacy and autographed the photo "To John Gacy. Best Wishes. Rosalynn Carter". In the picture, Gacy is wearing an "S" pin, indicating a person who has received special clearance by the United States Secret Service. During the search of Gacy's house after his arrest, this photo caused a major embarrassment to the Secret Service.
In July 1975, one of Gacy's employees, John Butkovich, disappeared. Butkovich had recently left Gacy's employ after an argument over back pay Butkovich was owed. Butkovich's parents urged police to check out Gacy, but nothing came of it and the young man's disappearance went unsolved.
In December 1976, another Gacy employee, Gregory Godzik, disappeared, and his parents asked police to investigate Gacy, one of the last people known to have spoken to the boy. In neither case did the police pursue Gacy nor did they discover his criminal record.
In January 1977, John Szyc, an acquaintance of Butkovich, Godzik and Gacy, disappeared. Later that year, another of Gacy's employees was arrested for stealing gasoline from a station; the car he was driving had belonged to Szyc. Gacy said that Szyc had sold the car to him before leaving town, and the police failed to pursue the matter further.
Gacy then started getting tired of digging holes in his crawlspace, he wanted space that was available at all times. He hired one of his employees David Cram to make more space. Cram also stayed in the spare bedroom in his boss' house. One night, Cram came home from work and found Gacy drunk and in his clown costume. They had a few drinks and then Gacy tricked Cram into the handcuffs. Gacy then started growling and began spinning Cram around the room screaming "I'm going to rape you". Cram pushed Gacy down and some how grabbed the key and escaped to his room.
Not all of Gacy's victims died. In March 1978, Gacy lured Jeffrey Rignall into his car. Gacy chloroformed the young man, took him back to the house on Summerdale, raped and tortured him, and dumped him in Lincoln Park. Police drew a blank, but Rignall remembered, through the chloroform haze of that night, a black Oldsmobile, the Kennedy Expressway, and some side streets. He staked out the exit on the Expressway until he saw the black Oldsmobile, which he followed to 8213 West Summerdale. Police issued a warrant, and arrested Gacy on July 15. He was facing trial on a battery charge for the Rignall incident when he was arrested in December for the other murders. In December 1977, a 19-year-old man complained that Gacy had kidnapped him at gunpoint and forced him into sex. Yet again, Chicago police took no action.
Robert Piest, a 15-year-old boy, disappeared on December 11, 1978 from the Des Plaines pharmacy where he worked after school. Just before he vanished, Piest told a co-worker he was going to a house down the street to talk to "some contractor" about a job. Gacy had been at the pharmacy that night discussing a remodeling job with the owner. Gacy denied talking to Piest when Des Plaines police called him the next day, but the Des Plaines police did what Chicago police failed to do and checked Gacy's record, discovering that he had done time for sodomy.
A search of Gacy's house on December 13 turned up some suspicious items: a 1975 high school class ring, drivers' licenses for other people, handcuffs, a two-by-four with holes drilled in the ends, a syringe, clothing too small for Gacy, and a photo receipt from the pharmacy where Piest worked. Detectives noticed an offensive odor coming from the crawlspace beneath the house.
Further investigation revealed Godzik's disappearance. The high school ring was traced to Szyc. From Gacy's second wife, they learned of Butkovich.
On December 21, 1978, one of Gacy's employees told the police that Gacy had confessed to more than 30 murders. Shortly thereafter, Gacy was arrested for marijuana possession. Police took out a second warrant, went back to the house on Summerdale, and found human bones in the crawlspace.
After being informed that he would now face murder charges, Gacy confessed to some 25-30 murders, telling investigators that most were buried in the crawlspace and on his property, and that he threw the last five bodies, after the crawlspace was full, off the I-55 bridge and into the Des Plaines River, including that of Piest. Gacy drew police a diagram of his crawlspace to show where the bodies were buried.
Gacy told the police that he would pick up male teenage runaways or male prostitutes off the streets, and take them back to his house with either promising them money for sex, or just grab them by force. He picked up at least one of his victims at the bus station. Once they got back to his house, he would handcuff them or tie them up in another way. Gacy would often stick clothing in their mouths to muffle their screams. After this, he would choke them with a rope or a board as he sexually assaulted them. Gacy would also keep the bodies with him for as long as decomposition would allow.
The police had already gone back to the house to search for more remains, mostly under the crawlspace. For the next four months, more and more human remains emerged from the house, as reporters, TV news crews, and astonished onlookers watched. Twenty-nine bodies were found in Gacy's crawlspace and on his property between December 1978 and March 1979.
The youngest identified victims were Samuel Stapleton and Michael Marino, both 14 years old; the oldest were Russell Nelson and James Mazzara, both 21 years old. Eight of the victims were so badly decomposed that they were never identified. Robert Piest's body was discovered on the banks of the Des Plaines River on April 9.
Trial and execution
On February 6, 1980, Gacy's trial began in Chicago. During the trial, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, this plea was rejected outright; Gacy's lawyer, Sam Amirante, said that Gacy had moments of temporary insanity at the time of each individual murder, but regained his sanity before and after to lure and dispose of victims.
While on trial, Gacy joked that the only thing he was guilty of was "running a cemetery without a license." At one point in the trial, Gacy's defense also tried to claim that all 33 murders were accidental deaths as part of erotic asphyxia, but the Cook County Coroner countered this assertion with evidence that Gacy's claim was impossible. Gacy had also made an earlier confession to police, and was unable to have this evidence suppressed. He was found guilty on March 13 and sentenced to death.
On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois, by lethal injection. His last meal consisted of a dozen deep fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe chicken from KFC, a pound of fresh strawberries and French fries. His execution was a minor media sensation, and large crowds of people gathered for "execution parties" outside the penitentiary, with numerous arrests for public intoxication, open container violations, and disorderly conduct. Vendors sold Gacy-related T-shirts and other merchandise, and the crowd cheered at the moment when Gacy was pronounced dead.
According to reports, Gacy did not express remorse. His last words to his lawyer in his cell were to the effect that killing him would not bring anyone back, and it is reported his last words were "kiss my ass," which he said to a correctional officer while he was being sent to the execution chamber.
Before the execution began, the lethal chemicals unexpectedly solidified, clogging the IV tube that led into Gacy's arm, and prevented any further passage. Blinds covering the window through which witnesses observed the execution were drawn, and the execution team replaced the clogged tube with a new one. Ten minutes later, the blinds were reopened and the execution resumed. It took 18 minutes to complete.
Anesthesiologists blamed the problem on the inexperience of prison officials who were conducting the execution, saying that proper procedures taught in "IV 101" would have prevented the error. This apparently led to Illinois' adoption of a different method of lethal injection. On this subject, the chief prosecutor at Gacy's trial, William Kunkle, said "He still got a much easier death than any of his victims."
After his execution, Gacy's brain was removed. It is currently in the possession of Dr. Helen Morrison, who interviewed Gacy and other serial killers in an attempt to isolate common personality traits of violent sociopaths; however, an examination of Gacy's brain after his execution by the forensic psychiatrist hired by his lawyers revealed no abnormalities.
Known Gacy victims, with date of disappearance.
Timothy McCoy, 18, January 3, 1972
John Butkovitch, 17, July 21, 1975
Darrell Sampson, 18, April 6, 1976
Randall Reffett, 15, May 14, 1976
Sam Stapleton, 14, May 14, 1976
Michael Bonnin, 17, June 3, 1976
William Carroll, 16, June 13, 1976
Rick Johnston, 17, August 6, 1976
Kenneth Parker, 16, October 25, 1976
Michael Marino, 14, October 25, 1976
Gregory Godzik, 17, December 12, 1976
John Szyc, 19, January 20, 1977
Jon Prestidge, 20, March 15, 1977
Matthew Bowman, 19, July 5, 1977
Robert Gilroy, 18, September 15, 1977
John Mowery, 19, September 25, 1977
Russell Nelson, 21, October 17, 1977
Robert Winch, 16, November 10, 1977
Tommy Boling, 20, November 18, 1977
David Talsma, 19, December 9, 1977
William Kindred, 19, February 16, 1978
Timothy O'Rourke, 20, June 1978
Frank Landingin, 19, November 4, 1978
James Mazzara, 21, November 24, 1978
Robert Piest, 15, December 11, 1978
Eight of Gacy's victims are still unidentified. It is also believed that there may have been other victims never identified or found who were buried at other locations.
The ninth unidentified victim, case file, 959UMIL was identified in June 2007 as Timothy McCoy from Nebraska. McCoy was Gacy's first known and identified victim.
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