John Wayne Gacy

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John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

(1942-03-17)March 17, 1942
DiedMay 10, 1994(1994-05-10) (aged 52)
Cause of deathExecution by lethal injection
Other namesPogo the Clown, The Killer Clown
Restaurant manager
Spouse(s)Marlynn Myers
(m. 1964–1968, divorced)
Carole Hoff
(m. 1972–1976, divorced)
  • 33 counts of Murder
  • 1 count of Sexual assault
  • 1 count of Sodomy
  • 1 count of Indecent liberties with a child
Criminal penaltyDeath (by lethal injection)
CountryUnited States
Date apprehended
December 21, 1978

John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994 pronounced Gay-see), also known as The Killer Clown and Pogo the Clown, was an American serial killer and rapist. He is confirmed to have killed 33 young men and teenage boys. He killed them in a brutal way and buried their bodies in or near his Chicago home. Gacy did not use a gun for any of his crimes.

Gacy became known as "Pogo the Clown" and the "Killer Clown" because he would dress as a clown for fundraising events and parades. In March 1980, Gacy was convicted of 33 murders, as well as sex crimes, committed between 1972 and 1978, and given the death penalty. He was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994. Gacy's execution was filmed; his last words were, "kiss my ass" (according to his attorney, Karen Conti, who spoke to a prosecutor who was present, he did not actually say any last words and this is an urban legend - reported in Last Podcast on the Left on 5/3/24). There were problems with the execution, but it eventually ended in Gacy's death. Immediately prior to his execution, Gacy observed the Last Rites with a Catholic priest; he had converted to the Catholic Church.

Early life[change | change source]

John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was born on March 17, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to father John Stanley Gacy and mother Marion Elaine Gacy.[1] Gacy's father was a World War I veteran and a machinist, while his mother worked at home.[2]: 25 [3]: 195  He had two sisters, one younger and one older.

Gacy's father was an alcoholic. Growing up, John Gacy, Sr. would verbally and physically abuse his children.[4]: 22  Gacy also had health problems in his youth. For example, in 1953, while playing on a swing set, Gacy hit his head off a swing and suffered a blood clot. The clot was not treated until he was 16.[5]chapter one

After dropping out of high school in his senior year, Gacy moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, to work in a mortuary. Three months later, Gacy returned to Chicago, where he enrolled in and graduated from Northwestern Business College.[2]: 51  After graduating, Gacy worked as a shoe salesman for the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company. In 1964, Gacy was transferred to Springfield, Illinois, where he met Marlynn Myers. The couple married in September 1964.[3]: 195 

In Springfield, Gacy was involved in community organizations such as the United States Junior Chamber. He became the vice-president of the Springfield chapter by 1965.[1]

Move to Iowa[change | change source]

After Marlynn's father made him an offer to manage three KFC restaurants, Gacy and his wife moved to Waterloo, Iowa, where they had a son and daughter.[6]

In 1968, Gacy was diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

Unidentified victims[change | change source]

As of August 2017 five victims remain unidentified, five of whom had been buried beneath Gacy's crawl space, with one additional youth buried approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) from the barbecue pit in his backyard.[7] Experts used the skulls of the unidentified victims to create facial reconstructions.[8] Based upon Gacy's confession, information relative to where the victims were buried in his crawl space relative to Gacy's identified victims, and forensic analysis, police were able to determine the most likely dates when his unidentified victims were killed.

Death[change | change source]

On 10 May 1994, Gacy was executed by lethal injection. He was 52 years old.

In October 2011, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart announced that investigators, having obtained full DNA profiles from each of the unidentified victims, were to renew their efforts to identify all of them. At a press conference held to announce this intention, Sheriff Dart stated investigators are actively seeking DNA samples from individuals across the United States related to any male missing between 1970 and 1979.[18] Test results thus far conducted have confirmed the identification of three victims, ruled out the possibility of numerous other missing youths as being victims of Gacy,[19][20] and solved four unrelated cold cases dating between 1972 and 1979.[21][22][23][n 1]

Popular culture[change | change source]

Movies[change | change source]

  • The television movie To Catch a Killer, starring Brian Dennehy as John Wayne Gacy, was released in 1992. The movie is based on the investigation of Gacy.[27]
  • A feature movie, Gacy, was released in 2003. This movie cast Mark Holton in the role of John Gacy and focuses on Gacy's life from 1971 until his arrest in 1978.[28]
  • The made-for-TV movie Dear Mr. Gacy was released in 2010, starring William Forsythe as John Wayne Gacy. The movie is based upon the book The Last Victim, written by Jason Moss.[29]
  • A horror movie, 8213: Gacy House, was also released in 2010. This movie focuses on a fictional team of paranormal investigators exploring a house constructed on the former site of Gacy's home.[30]

Books[change | change source]

  • Cahill, Tim (1986). Buried Dreams: Inside the Mind of Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy. ISBN 978-1-85702-084-7.
  • Boschelli, Barry E. (2008). Johnny and Me: The True Story of John Wayne Gacy. ISBN 978-1-4343-2184-8.
  • Sullivan, Terry; Maiken, Peter T. (2000). Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders. Pinnacle Books. ISBN 978-0-7860-1422-4.
  • Moss, Jason; Kottler, Jeffrey A. (1999). The Last Victim: A True-life Journey Into the Mind of a Serial Killer. Virgin Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7535-0398-0.
  • Linedecker, Clifford L. (1993). The Man Who Killed Boys: The John Wayne Gacy, Jr. Story. Macmillan. ISBN 0-312-95228-7.
  • Amirante, Sam; Amirante, Sam L.; Broderick, Danny (2011). John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster. Skyhorse Publishing Company Incorporated. ISBN 978-1-61608-248-2.

Television[change | change source]

  • The television show South Park features a depiction of Gacy as a minor character in their 150th episode.[31]
  • The television show Supernatural features a depiction of Gacy‘s clown persona as a ghost in both season 14 episode 13 and season 15 episode 1. [32]

Music[change | change source]

  • Stephen Gregory Bier Jr., Marilyn Manson's keyboard player from 1989 to 2007, was known as Madonna Wayne Gacy, a stage name made from the names of Madonna and Wayne Gacy.
  • Sufjan Stevens tells John Wayne Gacy Jr.'s story in his song "John Wayne Gacy Jr."

Notes and references[change | change source]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. The four unrelated cold cases solved to date are those of 21-year-old Daniel Noe, who was last seen alive on September 30, 1978, and whose remains had been found near Mount Olympus in 2010; 16-year-old Steven Soden, who was last seen alive April 3, 1972, in New Jersey and whose body was found in April 2000 in Burlington County;[24][25] 22-year-old Chicagoan Edward Beaudion, who was last seen alive on July 23, 1978; and 16-year-old Andre Drath, whose body had been found buried upon Ocean Beach in June 1979.[26]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kneeland, Douglas E. (January 10, 1979). "Suspect in Mass Deaths Is Puzzle to All". The New York Times. Retrieved July 7, 2011. (subscription required)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Cahill, Tim; Ewing, Russ (1986). Buried dreams: inside the mind of a serial killer. Bantam Books. ISBN 978-0-553-05115-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jackson, Kenneth T. (2000). The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives: 1994–1996. Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 978-0-684-80644-0.
  4. Hillard, Terry G.; Jurkanin, Thomas Joseph (2006). Chicago police: an inside view—the story of superintendent Terry G. Hillard. Charles C Thomas Publisher. ISBN 978-0-398-07611-5.
  5. Bell, Rachael; Bardsley, Marilyn. "John Wayne Gacy Jr". truTV. Retrieved July 9, 2011.
  6. Connelly, Joel. "Bachmann mixes up John Wayne, John Wayne Gacy". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Archived from the original on July 1, 2011. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
  7. "Montreal Gazette March 10, 1979 edition". Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  8. "The Forensics Library: John Wayne Gacy". June 30, 2012. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "Case File 954UMIL". The Doe Network. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  10. "NamUs - National Unidentified Persons Data System Case Report - 11006". Archived from the original on December 15, 2017. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  11. "Case File 956UMIL". The Doe Network. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  12. "NamUs - National Unidentified Persons Data System Case Report - 11004". Archived from the original on April 1, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  13. "Case File 955UMIL". The Doe Network. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  14. "NamUs - National Unidentified Persons Data System Case Report - 10999". Archived from the original on March 31, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  15. "Case File 962UMIL". The Doe Network. Retrieved July 18, 2010.
  16. "NamUs - National Unidentified Persons Data System Case Report - 11000". Archived from the original on August 20, 2017. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  17. "NamUs - National Unidentified Persons Data System Case Report - 10998". Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  18. "Unidentified Victims of John Wayne Gacy, Cook County Sherriff's website". Archived from the original on October 15, 2011. Retrieved July 31, 2017.
  19. Babwin, Don (October 17, 2011). "Sheriff: Solid leads in effort to ID Gacy victims". The Boston Globe. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  20. "More DNA Being Analyzed To Determine IDs Of Gacy Victims « CBS Chicago". May 7, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  21. "John Wayne Gacy Investigation Helps Solve Missing Daniel Noe Case". September 21, 2012. Retrieved March 14, 2013.
  22. "Cook County Sheriff Press - Sherifs's Gacy Investigation Solves 1979 Cold Case". Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  23. "Remains Found in Utah Identified Through John Wayne Gacy Investigation". September 20, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2020. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
  24. "Cook County Sheriff Press - Gacy Lead Solves 41-Year-Old New Jersey Missing Person Case". Archived from the original on December 11, 2017. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  25. Mills, Steve (October 26, 2011). "Long-lost relation, thought slain by John Wayne Gacy, alive and well and living in South Florida". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 26, 2011.
  26. "Gacy exhumations help identify another unrelated victim".
  27. "To Catch a Killer (1992)". Yahoo!. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  28. "Gacy (2003)". Allrovi. Retrieved July 18, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  29. "Dear Mr. Gacy (2010)". Allrovi. Retrieved July 18, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  30. "8213: Gacy House (2010)". Allrovi. Retrieved July 18, 2011.[permanent dead link]
  31. Iverson, Dan (October 26, 2006). "South Park: "Hell on Earth 2006" review". IGN. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  32. "John Wayne Gacy". Supernatural Wiki. Retrieved January 15, 2024.

Other websites[change | change source]