“Death is the ultimate thrill”, serial killer and r*pist John Wayne Gacy, the ‘Killer Clown’ once said. He sometimes had orgasms while strangling the life out of his young male victims. To the outside world, Gacy was a successful businessman, husband/father and civic leader in both Illinois and Iowa. He made appearances as Pogo the Clown at charity events. Heck, he even had his picture taken with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. The reality? His life was a sewer, a grisly nightmare that sprung from the physical and verbal abuse he suffered at the hands of his alcoholic father, from himself being the victim of childhood sexual abuse and from a deeply conflicted sexuality. He was married twice and had two children, but he cheated on his wives, used prostitutes and cruised the streets for young boys. He built a successful construction business that hired young boys. Boys who seemed to disappear at an alarming rate. But nobody put two and two together and linked Gacy to the disappearances for a long, long while. By deceit or force, he brought his victims to his ordinary red brick ranch-style home in a Chicago suburb. And from 1972 to 1978, he killed thirty-three young men and boys, burying them in his yard or in the crawl space of his house and, towards the end, throwing their bodies into a river. Some say, he had accomplices and there are persistent rumors of his part in a child sex trafficking ring.
Here are 15 things you should know about Gacy, the Killer Clown
15. Street Hustlers, Runaways And Discarded Trash
In December of 1978, the bodies just kept coming. Every day, more bodies, more outrage. Gacy’s pleasant ranch house at 8213 Summerdale Avenue was drawing crowds, news crews and grieving relatives. The crawl space of his house was full to bursting with the remains of his victims. Starting in 1972 from a base in his neat Illinois home, Gacy lured 33 young men and boys into his home or car and then drugged them or handcuffed them. Most were (in his words) “discarded trash”, who no one would miss. He r*ped them or forced them to perform sexual favors on him. Then he would torture them, before strangling them and burying them in his house and yard. But in 1978, Gacy messed up big time. He had been seen talking to Robert Piest, his final victim. Piest was just a good local kid with a loving family who wouldn’t let his disappearance go. And finally, after 6 years, made the connection.
14. His Execution Was Botched
It took 18 minutes for him to die because the drip feed that was meant to kill him clogged, leaving a gasping Gacy awaiting the final blow. The prosecutor was unrepentant, saying he had an easier death than any of his victims. Gacy had been convicted in 1980 and spent 14 years lodging appeals. In May of 1994, his lawyers were saying he was mentally incompetent and that he was out of town when 16 of the killings took place. The courts weren’t having it and his execution by lethal injection was scheduled for May 10th. On the day, hundreds of jubilant people waited outside waving signs that said things like “stick it to him”. They cheered when the word came that Gacy was dead. And claiming her 15 of fame, his tearful sister went on Oprah to tell anybody that cared about his last day.
13. His Final Words: Kiss My A**
On the surface, Gacy was affable, chatty and upbeat. People liked him, were even drawn to him. He was considered a community leader. According to The New York Times, days before he died, he chatted with his guards about the prospects for the Chicago Cubs, his favorite baseball team. During his 14 years on death row, he talked, a lot. He gave interviews, sometimes candidly talking about his nights of torture and murder. But on the day he died, he summed up his attitude and point of view with three in-your-face words: Kiss my a**. He never expressed any remorse, any sympathy for the families of his victims. No wonder they were cheering and having a party outside the prison.
12. The Kind Of Guy Who Would Send A Bereavement Card With A Naked Lady In A Coffin
Everything about Gacy was gritty Chicago and in your face. He tended to spout off like a cocky mafia boss. And he had a macabre, sick sense of humor that made people’s skin crawl. When one of his lawyers’ sister died, Gacy sent a card with a tender and sympathetic message on the outside. And inside? There was, according to The Chicagoist, “a picture of a naked woman in a casket with her legs spread wide”. And the caption read: “We wanted to remember her in death as she was in life”. Apparently, Gacy thought it was hilarious. His last two lawyers talked of his power to draw them into his dark and troubled world and, at times, how they feared for their sanity. His very bad paintings of skeleton clowns are just more or same: Sick and totally unfunny.
11. His First Murder Was An Accident?
Not exactly, but it was something of an unfortunate misunderstanding. Months before he married for the second time, Gacy had gone cruising and on January 2nd of 1972, picked up 16-year-old Timothy McCoy at Chicago’s Greyhound bus terminal. He promised him a room for the night and a ride back to the bus station the next day. Sex? Who knows. The next morning a grateful McCoy was making breakfast for the two of them and absentmindedly strode into Gacy’s room with a kitchen knife. Gacy misread the signals, jumped from the bed, stabbing and killing the teenager, before stuffing his body in a closet until he could figure out what to do with it. While stabbing the boy, Gacy experienced an orgasm. From that point on murder became Gacy’s ultimate thrill. All the rest of his victims were sadistically strangled.
10. Locked In A Room With A Serial Killer Who Wanted One Thing
Jason Moss was a freshman in college when he began writing to serial killers like John Gacy, pretending to be a “fan” or disciple or a vulnerable gay man. Why? Well, believe it or not, the kid was interested in joining the FBI and thought demonstrating he could get serial killers to trust him might look good on his Resume. We think it’s dumb too. Death row Gacy wrote back, lots of times, describing sexual acts that would pleasure him. Then, they began talking over the phone. Sex and Gacy’s sexual fantasies came up a lot. And then the visit just months before Gacy died. Moss was locked in a room, alone with Gacy, with the security camera turned to the wall. It was clear Gacy wanted to have s*x. Then, in the nick of time, a guard knocked on the door. Well, Moss may have been naive, but he wasn’t stupid. He got out of there fast. And never went back. And of course, there was a movie. They made Dear Mr. Gacy in 2010.
9. The Kind Of Guy Who Would Climb Into A Coffin And Fondle The Body
He was a sickly loner growing up in Chicago. His mother doted on him. His father abused him in just about every way imaginable. In 1962, the 20-year-old Gacy left home, rather fled it, and drove to Las Vegas where he worked as a mortuary attendant. He watched the bodies being embalmed, even slept on a cot near the embalming room. One evening after everyone else had left, Gacy climbed into the coffin of a teenage boy, fondling and hugging the boy’s body. Then alarm bells, a sense of shock overwhelmed him. He called his mother and begged her to get his father’s permission to return home. He drove home and resumed his miserable life with a nasty father and an ineffectual mother. Ten years later, his killing spree would begin.
8. A Spot Of Wife Swapping In Iowa
In 1966, Gacy moved to Waterloo, Iowa to manage three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants owned by his first wife’s father. He seemed to hire a lot of teenage boys. He was entering his “model citizen” phase, joining the Junior Chamber of Commerce (“Jaycees”). But, as with everything Gacy, there was a seedier side. Some Jaycees went in for wife swapping, prostitutes, even drugs. And Gacy was up for it, regularly cheating on his wife with prostitutes. At that point, he would have described himself as bisexual, as he was also into getting his teenage male employees drunk before proposing sex, laughing it off as a joke if they refused. By 1968, it was no longer a joke and Gacy was behind bars, convicted of sodomy of a teenage boy. He served only 18 months of a ten year sentence, got out, moved back to Chicago and bought the house on Summerdale Avenue. It was June of 1970. He would marry again and start a construction company that hired young boys…
7. What’s That Smell
After he remarried in 1972, Gacy had a wife, stepkids and a mother-in-law in tow. The perfect family living on Summerdale Avenue. But it seems he still found time to r*pe and murder young boys and stash their bodies in his crawl space. Reportedly, his mother-in-law complained of the smell, which Gacy put down to sewage. He kept “forgetting” to call in the plumbers. By that time, Pogo the Clown was on the scene and Gacy was big into Democratic politics, even being photographed with First Lady Rosalynn Carter. But by the time he married in 1972, his first victim, Timothy McCoy was safely stashed in the crawl space. Many, many more would follow. And his wife couldn’t help but notice the gay p*rnography and the young men Gacy “entertained” in their garage. It’s just business, an angry Gacy told his wife in 2003’s film Gacy.
6. His Paintings Sell For How Much?
Depends. The portrait of Charles Manson costs $9,500. Elvis is a steal at $4,500. Want his rosary? After all, Gacy was a good Catholic boy. That will set you back $45,000. Yes, it’s $45,000. You can check them out on supernaught.com. Gacy wanted the money from the sale of his paintings to go to his family. Reportedly, the State of Illinois had different ideas and wanted to keep the money to pay for his 14 years of room and board. Gacy joked that they could evict him. The State filed a suit and then dropped it. At the end of the day, his family reportedly got around $100,000 for the sales. His clown paint box ended up in the private collection of one Arthur Nash, the same guy who bought Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle.
5. Child Trafficking And A Cover-Up?
Before he was executed, Gacy recorded a message that could be accessed via a 1-900 number (at a cost of nearly $24). According to The New York Times, the 12-minute recording by Gacy accuses “unidentified others of committing the murders and burying the victims under his house”. Some asked where the heck Gacy was at the time. His own lawyers maintained he was out of town when 16 of the murders were committed. By our count, that’s less than half of the body count. Some locals still believe that Gacy was part of a child sex trafficking ring that involved a “prominent” citizen and that there was a cover up to protect the man. Some believe that was why the police did not investigate the disappearances of young boys that were reported to them until 1978. Gacy himself had spoken of “accomplices”, tantalizing police, then telling them it was their job (and not his) to find them.
4. His House Obliterated From The Face Of The Earth
Who would want to live at 8213 Summerdale? In a word: Nobody. For years after the trial Gacy’s former neighbors complained of sightseeing traffic amounting almost to bus tours besieging the once quiet neighborhood. In any event, the police had more or less dug up and demolished huge bits of the house to get to bodies. Grisly pictures of the crawl space with numbered markers were bad enough, but scenes of remains being carried out in body bags and the revelations that came out at the trial meant that it was inconceivable that the place could be put on the market. But it did get sold eventually in a Sheriff’s sale, the old house demolished, and a new one built in its place. Locals talked of the buyer being crazy and predicted the ghosts would be coming out of the woodwork. Well, we all know what happened in Poltergeist, don’t we?
3. That All Important Last Meal
It was an all-American grease up, with 12 fried shrimp, a bucket of original recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken, mounds of french fries and a pound of strawberries. Oh, don’t forget the Diet Coke. Wouldn’t want to pack on the pounds would he? Way back in his model citizen days, Gacy had managed three KFC restaurants and reportedly loved the original recipe chicken the chain produced. And the strawberries? The comedian father of his lawyer, Karen Conti, had suggested it over the phone to Gacy. Why, Gacy had asked? Because Joe Conti had said, strawberries would be out of season and be very, very expensive. Gacy liked the idea. “Kiss my a**” big time. The thing was, Gacy never thought it would happen. Never thought he would die, telling one of his lawyers to call him back later. Later, they said? You’ll be dead in an hour. And he was.
2. It Runs In The Family
Gacy’s father was reportedly a violent man. And we know all about Gacy and his twisted, sadistic murdering ways. Then in 2012 his nephew Raymond Kasper was tried and convicted for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl on several occasions. Prosecutors told the court that Kasper’s “fat, sausage like fingers” touched the girl while rubbing lotion onto her body. Cringe. Supposedly, he was a boyfriend of the girl’s mother. Cringe big time. Kasper claimed the girl made it up. The court believed her and he got 24 years. It probably didn’t help his case that he was Gacy’s nephew…
1. The Handcuff And Rope Trick
Apparently, one of the ploys Gacy used to get handcuffs onto his victims was to pretend it was a magic trick. He would don trick cuffs and then “magically” get out of them. “Let me show you how it’s done”, he would say. Only thing was the cuffs the victims put on were the real thing. In a filmed interview, he chillingly talked about the rope he used to strangle the young men and boys. Slip it over their head, slipping a rod underneath and then slowly twisting until the victim died. Or sometimes he would do it in stages, strangling them until they blacked out and then reviving them and doing it all over again. And the neighbors knew nothing? Some reported hearing some screams, but hey, it was a nice neighborhood. Nothing ever happened there.