John Wayne Gacy: The ‘Killer Clown’ is still one of America’s most infamous serial killers

John Wayne Gacy killer clown
John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy Jr., or infamously known as the “Killer Clown”, was born in Chicago on March 17, 1942, and had a traumatic childhood: he was beaten and called “sissy” by his alcoholic father, suffered a head injury at age 15, and in 1968 was arrested for practicing sex acts with a couple in the bathroom of a bar. Gacy began killing in 1972, and his victims were all men. The boys received job offers went to Gacy’s house, were drunk, tied to a chair and sexually abused.

John Wayne Gacy killer clown
Mug shot of John Wayne Gacy

In 1978, the Chicago police made a search in his house, number 8213, on West Summerdale Avenue, to interrogate him. Atfirst, they found John Wayne Gacy was an amateur clown beloved by children of the city and who would never commit a crime. Big mistake.

8213 West Summerdale Avenue killer clown
8213 West Summerdale Avenue © Wikimedia Commons

Before leaving, the police felt a strange smell in the house: “It’s just a blockage in plumbing,” said Gacy. But the police decided to investigate anyway. In the basement, hidden under a trap door, were found the remains of twenty-nine boys between nine and twenty-seven years, with signs of torture, sexual assault and strangulation. He was immediately arrested.

Between 1972 and 1978, Gacy raped and murdered at least 33 young men and boys. Although some of his victims’ bodies were found in the Des Plaines River, he buried 29 of them in the small crawl space underneath the basement of his home. Gacy became known as “Killer Clown” because of the popular block parties he would throw for his friends and neighbours, entertaining children in a clown suit and makeup under the alias “Pogo the Clown”.

John Wayne Gacy killer clown
Drawing of John Wayne Gacy as ‘Pogo The Clown’ © Wikimedia Commons

In 1988, Gacy was sentenced to 21 life sentences and 12 death sentences. While waiting on Death Row in Menard Correctional Center in Illinois, Gacy spent his time drawing pictures for children, especially the clowns. His illustrations are considered collectibles, and reach high market prices.

John Wayne Gacy was put to death in Illinois by lethal injection at the age of 52. On the morning of May 9, 1994, Gacy was transferred from the Menard Correctional Center to Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, to be executed.

That afternoon, he was allowed a private picnic on the prison grounds with his family. For his last meal, Gacy ordered a bucket of KFC, a dozen fried shrimp, french fries, fresh strawberries, and a Diet Coke. That evening, he observed prayer with a Catholic priest before being escorted to the Stateville execution chamber to receive a lethal injection.

After Gacy’s death was confirmed at 12:58 am on May 10, 1994, his brain was removed. It is in the possession of Helen Morrison, a witness for the defense at Gacy’s trial, who has interviewed Gacy and other serial killers in an attempt to isolate common personality traits of violent sociopaths. His body was cremated.

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