Birthday: March 17, 1942
Died At Age: 52
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: The Killer Clown, Pogo the Clown
Born Country: United States
Born in: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Notorious As: Serial Killer
Height: 1.75 m
Spouse/Ex-: Carole Hoff, Marlynn Myers
father: John Stanley Gacy
mother: Marion Elaine Robinson
siblings: Joanne Gacy, Karen Gacy
children: Christine Gacy, Michael Gacy
Died on: May 10, 1994
place of death: Stateville Correctional Center, Crest Hill, Illinois, United States
John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer and rapist who targeted teenage boys and young men. He was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering 33 teenage boys and young men during the 1970s and sentenced to death for 12 of these killings, and eventually executed by lethal injection. It is said that the actual number of his victims could be higher. A sadistic killer, Gacy derived pleasure from torturing his victims and enjoyed watching them die a slow and agonizing death. Known for his sexual depravity and cruelty, he himself had been a victim of physical violence and sexual assault when he was young. Growing up with an abusive father, John Gacy endured a very difficult childhood. However, as a young adult, he was able to establish himself as a reasonably successful professional and a respectable citizen. But unknown to his own family and neighbors, Gacy lived a double life. During the 1970s, he began luring teenage boys and young men into his house and sexually assaulted them before brutally taking their lives. He evaded arrest for several years before some of the survivors approached the police, leading to his capture and conviction.
Childhood & Early Life
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was born on March 17, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois, to John Stanley Gacy and Marion Elaine Robinson. He had two sisters. His father was an auto repair machinist and ‘World War I’ veteran.
His father was an abusive alcoholic and young John had a very difficult relationship with him. His father used to mercilessly beat him for no reason, and even rendered him unconscious with his brutal physical assaults. His mother tried her best to protect John from his father, but to no avail. Another unfortunate incident happened in John’s life when he was sexually molested by a family friend.
To add to his woes, he suffered from a heart condition because of which he could not play any games. Overweight and uncouth, he was often mocked by his neighboring bullies. His ill health also prevented him from performing well at school.
His father’s abusive behavior worsened with time. Tired of all the troubles at home, John Gacy left his family and went to Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1962.
In Nevada, he found work as a mortuary attendant. A bizarre incident happened one day—he hugged and caressed one of the dead bodies in the mortuary and was shocked by his own behavior. Terrified and confused, he returned home to his parents.
Upon his return, he enrolled at the ‘Northwestern Business College’ from where he graduated in 1963.
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John Wayne Gacy found a job as a management trainee in the ‘Nunn-Bush Shoe Company.’ He found considerable success in the company and was soon made the manager of his department in Illinois. He also fell in love and married a co-worker, settling for a typical life of a respectable middle-class American.
In the 1960s, he joined ‘The United States Junior Chamber’ (Jaycees), and became a tireless worker for the organization, which was a non-profit venture aimed at providing opportunities for young men to develop personal and leadership skills through service to others. He became a well-known figure within the organization and had risen to the position of vice-president of the ‘Springfield Jaycees’ by 1965.
Offences & Incarceration
There was a dark side to Gacy’s personality and he committed his first known sexual assault on a teenage boy in 1967. The boy, whom he assaulted by luring into his house, was the son of a fellow Jaycee. Over the next few months, he molested and raped many other boys.
One of the boys he assaulted, Donald Voorhees, informed his father about Gacy’s misdeed. The father immediately contacted the police who then arrested Gacy. Though the police could not find conclusive proof, they indicted Gacy on sodomy charges.
Gacy then hired one of his employees to physically assault Donald Voorhees in an effort to discourage the boy from testifying against him during the upcoming trial. The employee attacked Donald who immediately reported the assault to the police. Gacy was convicted of sodomy in December 1968, and sentenced to 10 years at the ‘Anamosa State Penitentiary.’ Disturbed by her husband’s criminal activities, his wife divorced him.
He was released on parole after 18 months. He returned to Chicago and went about rebuilding his life. He developed good relations with his neighbors, who were unaware of his past, and got married again.
He remained active in the community as well, and often dressed up as a clown to entertain sick children. He threw parties for his neighbors and was successful in creating a positive image of himself in the society. Unbeknownst to his neighbors, Gacy was living a secret life as a rapist and murderer—he had not reformed, as believed by his wife and mother.
He started his own decorating business, ‘PDM Contractors,’ which proved to be successful. He was also becoming increasingly active on the political front and offered labor services free of charge to the ‘Democratic Party.’
On the personal front, the relations between Gacy and his wife deteriorated during the 1970s due to his open confession that he was bisexual; the couple divorced in 1976. His reputation in the society suffered following his divorce and people began to notice a stench around the area where his house was located. Rumors of him molesting his teenage employees also surfaced during this time.
A teenage boy named Robert Piest disappeared in 1978 and someone notified the police that shortly before his disappearance, Robert had told his mother that he was going to visit a contractor to talk about a job opportunity. A person known to Robert identified the contractor in question as John Gacy and the police obtained a search warrant for his home.
An extensive search of Gacy’s home and the surrounding region in December 1978 revealed horrifying secrets and the police discovered several bodies around his property. Even though he initially claimed innocence, he eventually confessed to the police that he had committed approximately 25 to 30 murders since 1972. His last known victim Robert Piest’s body was finally recovered from Grundy County in April 1979.
Trial & Execution
He was charged with 33 murders and his trial opened in February 1980. His defense countered that Gacy was insane, irrational, and not responsible for his actions. His defense brought in a number of psychiatric experts, who testified that Gacy had been insane while committing the crime.
On March 13, 1980, the jury sentenced him to death for 12 of the murders. He spent several years on death row and was executed by lethal injection at ‘Stateville Correctional Center’ on May 10, 1994.
Personal Life & Legacy
In September 1964, Gacy married Marlynn Myers, a co-worker at the ‘Nunn-Bush Shoe Company.’ The couple had two children. Marlynn Myers divorced him in 1969 when he was imprisoned on charges of sodomy.
He married again after being released on parole. In 1972, he tied the knot with Carole Hoff, a divorcee with two young daughters. Within a few years of their marriage, he openly confessed to Carole that he was bisexual. Gacy and Carole Hoff got divorced in 1976.
This brutal serial killer was also known as the ‘Killer Clown’ as he used to dress up as ‘Pogo the Clown’ at children’s parties.