The history of mankind has been littered with polarizing figures that have induced nightmares, and that have sent ripples of fear across the globe. These people and their claims to fame have come with high media coverage and with a haunting reputation that follows them well beyond the grave. The United States in particular has been a breeding ground of some of the world’s most famous serial killers. Among the names of the most famous serial killers in history, John Wayne Gacy’s name is one of the most recognizable. His “Pogo the Clown” image, in particular, has been the fuel of terror since the 1980s, and his legacy will continue to live on in infamy.
The Illinois native spent the better part of the 1970s carving his place into the annals of American history by committing some of the most brutal, shocking, and heinous acts imaginable. Up until his death in 1994, Gacy lacked any semblance of sympathy for his victims or their families, making him both a psychopath, and a genuinely terrible human being. With an alarmingly high body count, John Wayne Gacy has been the subject of a number of books and movies, which makes sense considering his instantly recognizable image as “Pogo the Clown”. If you’re easily terrified or have a weak stomach, then brace yourself, because there will be very little details spared as we dive headfirst into some truly horrifying details about the life and crimes of one of America’s most infamous serial killers: John Wayne Gacy.
15. A Body Count Of At Least 33
By definition, a serial killer is a person who kills at least 3 or more people. The act of murder is one of the most heinous crimes that a human being can commit, and all cultures throughout the world have incredibly strong feelings on the subject. For John Wayne Gacy, his body count stands at a staggering 33 individuals, making him a serial killer 11 times over.
In this day and age, it seems almost inconceivable to think that a person could spend such a long amount of time committing multiple murders without being caught for so long. Granted, forensics and investigating have come a long way over the last 40 years, so achieving this feat would be nearly impossible in this day and age. Nevertheless, John Wayne Gacy spent a solid chunk of the 1970s tallying up a body count that is both impressive and terrifying in its own right.
14. All Of His Victims Were Male
A lot of serial killers usually target similar types of people as opposed to just committing random murders. Whether it’s women, children, or teenagers, serial killers tend to keep their demographic small. On the show Dexter, he specifically targets serial killers who murder innocent people, making him a serial killer that seeks justice in his own hands. Now, am I saying that real life serial killers are to be applauded? Absolutely not. I’m just using one of my favorite shows as an example.
John Wayne Gacy made his mark on society by killing young males. Each and every one of his victims fall within a specific age group, and are all identified as male. It is known that Gacy struggled with his sexuality despite having been married to women twice. It turns out that Gacy didn’t just enjoy having sex with young men, but that he also enjoyed torturing and murdering young men as well.
13. Most Of Them Were Buried Under His Home
One of the biggest issues that committing a murder brings about is how and where to get rid of the body and the evidence. These days, forensic teams are incredible with finding small traces of evidence that ultimately led to much larger breakthroughs in investigations. Sloppy work by a killer can see a body or body part being found, which certainly complicates matters of staying out of prison and serving their sentence of committing murder.
Home is said to be where the heart is, and in Gacy’s case, home is also where the bodies and evidence were. Though not all were kept there, the vast majority of John Wayne Gacy’s victims found their final resting place under the murderer’s house. It was truly a sad and bitter resting place for the young men, and it helped bring a cruel reality to the neighbors of Gacy that their suburban neighborhood was also a burial ground and shrine for a truly sick individual.
12. His First Murder Gave Him An Orgasm
Sexual preferences and the things that turn us on differ by individual, and while many people can find common ground in their preferences, some people have a lust that can only be curbed by truly perverse means. The internet is a breeding ground of sickening content for modern perverts, but the 1970s was a period that existed without the internet. In order for people to find out what gets them off, experimentation is required, but for John Wayne Gacy, his first murder revealed some crude realities about his sexuality.
Though his first murder wasn’t planned, Gacy nevertheless went through with the act, and became so overcome in the process that he had an orgasm. Look, I’m not going to call anyone a freak for some kinky stuff, but this is just sick. I’ve heard of people being drunk with power, but never in my life have I heard of a person being hard from murder.
11. His Preferred Method Was Strangulation
One of the more appealing aspects to the show Dexter is their inclusion of his killing ritual as part of the show. Dexter is a character that sticks to a strict act of murder, and does it the same way each and every time. For Dexter, he drugs his victims, ties them down, stabs them in the neck, and finally cuts them into pieces for easy disposal. Seeing Dexter’s ritual on television adds a layer of depth to the character, but also shows how sick killers really are.
As opposed to making a swift and lethal blow, John Wayne Gacy was inclined to torturing his victims in order to prolong their suffering, before ultimately strangling them to death. It’s a brutal way of doing things, and it’s a great example of the type of person that John Wayne Gacy was. He was a broken man that needed to feel control over others, regardless of the cost that it had for them.
10. A History Of Sexual Assault Before The Murders
Patterns of behavior have a tendency to repeat themselves and escalate over time. Serial killers don’t typically start off as normal citizens without some early indicators of abnormal behavior. It is believed that young people who suffer from abundant psychological stress early in their life are more akin to committing violent acts than people who grow up anger what could be considered normal circumstances. Growing up, John Wayne Gacy lived in a household with a violent father who regularly abused Gacy and his siblings.
The intense psychological stress that Gacy dealt with from his father growing up may have played a factor in his turn to aggressive acts, even before he became a serial killer. On multiple occasions, John Wayne Gacy found himself in trouble with the law for acts of sexual assault. John Wayne Gacy was a model prisoner while incarcerated, and served very little time for the acts that he committed.
9. Sentenced To 12 Death And 21 Life Sentences
In the recent case of Brock Turner’s rape, this privileged young man was only sentenced to 6 months in lockup, and wound up serving far less than that due to his behavior. It was an outrage to the victim’s family, and it caused a nation of people to question the justice system that allowed this awful person to walk away virtually unscathed. Similarly, John Wayne Gacy was a model inmate, and served very little time for sexual crimes that he committed before he began his life as a serial killer.
Once Joh Wayne Gacy was discovered to be the heinous killer that he was, his trial was a short, and just. For the disgusting acts that this monster committed, he would be dealt a fatal blow, having to serve 12 death and 21 natural life sentences. Of course, it would have been impossible for Gacy to serve all of that time, but he nevertheless spent his remaining days rotting away in a cage.
8. He Spent 14 Years On Death Row
As mentioned in the last entry on our list, the sentence that John Wayne Gacy was sentenced to serve was just, but was also incredibly unrealistic. What his sentencing did lead to, however, was a significant amount of time on death row awaiting his very own demise at the hands of the law. While incarcerated, prisoners are left with nothing more than their thoughts, and a great deal of time to reflect on the decisions they made that led them to this place in their life.
For John Wayne Gacy, the last 14 years of his life were spent in prison, giving the serial killer far too much time to sit and think about what he had done. It’s incredible to think that despite all of this, John Wayne Gacy showed nearly no remorse for the crimes that he committed, and his last words even echoed his that sentiment, as he truly had no regard for human life.
7. He Wanted To Hold Public Office
Though the world is littered with stereotypes, very few are as popular and are often as true as the corrupt politician. That is not to say that all politicians are this way. What it’s meant to reflect is the nature of human beings in that we are all flawed, and that those elected to represent us in the government share the same flaws as we do. It is because of their position, however, that politicians are supposed to maintain the highest moral integrity, and have no room for any shortcomings in their personal life. So it’s curious to note that John Wayne Gacy wanted to hold public office.
Human beings have always been, and will always be flawed. Politicians throughout the ages have been embedded in controversy, but I don’t think that any could have topped what John Wayne Gacy would go on to do. The story would save sold incredible amounts of newspapers, and he could potentially be a lot more famous of a serial killer had he held office at the time of the murders.
6. Gacy Had 2 Failed Marriages
The divorce rate in the United States is at an all-time high these days, as most marriages tend to end in divorce. Unfortunately, some people are unable to find a lasting love, and instead find themselves as repeat offenders in the world of divorce. Dealing with heartbreak is often times one of the harder emotional tolls that a human being will deal with. That is, of course, unless you prefer homosexual relationships to the heterosexual marriages that you’ve found yourself in.
John Wayne Gacy was twice married, and twice divorced to women in his lifetime. It was during his second marriage that he revealed to his wife at the time that he preferred having sexual relationships with men as opposed to women. With two failed marriages under his belt, John Wayne Gacy further added to the statistical rise of the divorce rate in the United States, and had better luck with women than most men do today.
5. He Had Multiple Murders In One Day
Too much of a good thing is often a bad thing, as I learned the hard way when I ate way too much In N Out Burger on my way through California. I just couldn’t help but indulge in their incredible food and milkshakes. Thankfully, I learned my lesson, and I don’t eat it nearly as much as I used to. It can be easy to lose yourself in something that hits the spot, even if that thing is murder. John Wayne Gacy had an incredibly large appetite, and sometimes, one murder a day just wasn’t enough.
He once admitted that there were occasions in which he indulged in murder multiple times in the same day, which is absolutely terrifying. As his killing spree went on, it is clear that John Wayne Gacy become more and more comfortable with not being caught that he decided to up his body count at an increasing rate. The decision to kill twice in the same day is an excellent display of his arrogance.
4. Not All Of His Bodies Were Identified
Having lost some of my loved ones in the past, one thing I can say is that closure is an incredibly important component in the grieving process. Though we don’t always get a final goodbye or even a moment’s notice of what is about to happen, most people are still able to find some closure with the loss of a family member or friend. While researching John Wayne Gacy, one thing that stood out to me was that there were several bodies that went unidentified.
What is painful about learning this is that these young men had a life and a family before running into John Wayne Gacy. Despite their standing with their family, it’s hard to imagine that those people suffered in a great way after the disappearance of their loved one, and, because these bodies were unidentified, those families will never know the truth, and will never obtain the closure that they deserve.
3. His Legacy Was Furthered By A Rockstar
In popular culture, John Wayne Gacy has a place among his serial killer colleagues, and he has been the focal point of many media stories. Gacy has been the face of movies, and the subject of books and serial killer studies. But, his name is forever linked to the music industry thanks to the shock rock genre. After joining the group in the last 1980s, Madonna Wayne Gacy was the keyboard player for Marilyn Manson, and he helped further Gacy’s legacy by adopting his name as part of his stage persona.
Marilyn Manson would end up becoming one of the most controversial and popular artists of the 1990s. His music had a major impact in the lives of teenagers worldwide, and his shock rock antics netted him plenty of publicity, which no doubt helped fuel his record sales to reach incredible heights. It’s worth noting that Madonna Wayne Gacy adopted the stage name while the real Gacy was still alive and in prison.
2. He Inspired What We Know As The Amber Alert
Given the nature of his crimes, it was exponentially clear that reforms to laws needed to be made to help ensure the survival of young people who are victims of abduction. Prior to the modern Amber Alert, certain states had a time frame that they need to wait before launching into a search and investigation cases of abduction. Thanks to the crimes of John Wayne Gacy, measures were sought to end the waiting period for law enforcement to go out and find these victims.
The Missing Child Recovery Act of 1984 was the first step in the right direction. This move helped officers hit the ground running immediately in an attempt to rescue these children. Over time, this act led to other states to adopt similar policies, and eventually, the states began working together in an attempt to stop criminals from doing further damage to these children. These days, the Amber Alert system is utilized nationwide, and it’s in large part to the heinous acts committed by Gacy.
1. He Was Put To Death By Lethal Injection
Capital punishment is a highly controversial political subject and the opinions for and against it still differs greatly to this very day. While some believe that the death penalty is due justice for those that are sentenced to death, others argue that it is inhumane, and makes the law no better than the criminals. Regardless of where you side on the subject, the fact remains that after an extended stay on death row, John Wayne Gacy met his demise thanks to lethal injection.
Though the procedure was initially botched, the doctors corrected their mistake, and ultimately got the job done. For 14 years, Gacy spent his life in prison, and could not have cared less about the acts that he committed. After years of terror, the serial killer John Wayne Gacy was finally removed from the face of the earth, though the families of his victims might argue that his enduring legacy has kept the clown around longer than he should have been.