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On the surface, John Wayne Gacy seemed a solid citizen, he owned a successful construction business and was also active in politics. But the man who entertained neighborhood children turned out to be their worst nightmare. A sexual psychopath who lured dozens of young male victims to his house before assaulting and murdering them.

jhon wayne gacy movie
Des Plaines detectives take John Wayne Gacy to jail. Daily Herald File Photo

The story of John Wayne Gacy has inspired writers to create their own versions of killer clowns, including Pennywise from Stephen Kings’s IT, as well as Twisty the clown in American Horror Story.

John Wayne Gacy’s Early Life

John Wayne Gacy Jr. was born in Chicago on March 17, 1942. His father John Stanley Gacy, was a factory worker, who enjoyed sports and drinking beer. Stanley wanted a son, and he imagined doing all the traditional father-son activities together. He was extremely disappointed in his son as he would not go with him fishing and would prefer to plant flowers, cook and do traditionally feminine activities so he called him a sissy.

John Wayne Gacy with First lady Rosalynn Carter
“Killer Clown” pictured here with First Lady Rosalynn Carter, just a few months before police discovered he’d murdered 33 people.

His mother Marion was a housewife who was very sweet and loving to her children, she named her son John Wayne Gacy after the cowboy actor, John Wayne. Because of his alcoholic father’s outbursts, John spent more time with his mother and sisters.

John Wayne Gacy’s father drank and beat him and his sister with a leather and metal razor strap. While playing with his friends John Wayne Gacy fainted and was admitted to hospital. The reports came out bad news for his father who wanted him to play sports, as he was diagnosed with a heart condition.

At the age of 12, Gacy joined boy scouts and became good friends with a boy named Barry Boschelli. Gacy felt that he could trust his friend and tell him the biggest secret of his own. He stole a pair of panties and bra form his mother’s bedroom and would try them on when he was alone and loved to stare himself in the mirror.

At this time John Wayne Gacy started questioning his gender identity and sexuality as his father often said that he would rather want his son dead than find out he is homosexual. He wanted to be like how his father wanted him to be. John Wayne started going out with girls on a date and tried to live a normal life. But was bullied in school for being overweight and having a heart condition.

As soon as he graduated he wanted to get far away from his hometown as he possibly could. At the age of 18, he moved to the city of Springfield, where he became a shoe salesman in a departmental store.

After work, he became the assistant precinct captain for the democratic party. He started dating one of his coworkers there, Marlynn Myers. Her father was wealthy and well-connected in Springfield politics. John Gacy wanted to be governor of Illinois and maybe even the president of the United States.

After few years John Wayne Gacy married Marlynn Myers and was far from a faithful partner. But things soon changed, while his wife Marlyn Mere was giving birth to their first child, he was in a bar with his male co-worker and the two got drunk ending up having sex at John Gacy’s house.

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At the age of 24, he left his job selling shoes to become the manager of one of the restaurants his father-in-law owned. He continued to climb the ladder by local politics. According to his friend Barry, John Wayne Gacy always wanted the job, as he loved to control people.

John Wayne Gacy — The first jailtime

It was hard for John Gacy to work on his urges as he was a known person among the community and it would have an impact on his image. So, he invited a 15-year-old boy named Donald Voorhees over to his house. The boy worked with his father, who was a local Senator.

After the boy got drunk, he forced Donald to have oral sex with him and when it was over, he told the boy that he had connections with the mob, if he ever told anyone, he would send someone to kill him and his family. He dropped the boy home and gave him $50 for his silence.

john wayne gacy suit
Left: John Wayne Gacy’s mugshot. Right: The clown suit Gacy wore as “Pogo the Clown.”,
Left: Tim Boyle/Getty Images/Wikimedia Commons

Donald Voorhees kept this as a secret for a long time but broke down eventually and told his family what happened with him when he was 15. John Wayne Gacy was arrested for Sodomy, he swore that he did not do it and asked for a lie detector test.

He was so convinced that he could fail the test, but he failed. When he got caught he said that he had only sex with Donald Voorhees was consensual. More and more teenage boys came forward to claim that they had been raped by John Wayne Gacy, as well. He was found guilty and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

His wife divorced and did not want their children to see him again.10 years in prison seems a lot but for Gacy, it was his ability to charm people that worked for him this time. Once he was behind the bars, he made friends with other inmates and the guards.

Gacy soon became the Head Chef in the kitchen because of the experience he had working in the KFC. He received a lot of praise for knowing how to properly spice food and was even interviewed for a local television program “Christmas at Anamosa.”

His father died as he went to prison and he believed that his father died from the shame. John Gacy became so angry after this that he bashed one of the man trying to have oral sex with someone in prison until it was bloody.

Despite being found guilty of raping boys John Wayne Gacy was released after 16 months, on good behavior.

John Wayne Gacy’s second chance “Fresh Start”

John Gacy moved back with his mother and the people in the hometown didn’t know about his conviction, they just remembered him being a young, innocent Johnny-the fat kid with the heart condition. So getting a fresh start was easy for him.

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He started a construction company called PDM contractors and also jumped back into politics. No one knew him being convicted so he started dating again, this time a woman he knew from High School named Carol Hoff.

John Wayne Gacy victims
John Wayne Gacy’s victims

Carol Hoff had 2 daughters from her previous marriage and had difficulty making to by on welfare. John Gacy did tell her about being bisexual but never told her about his time in jail, and she accepted him for who he was.

The fat-kid with health disease had everything he wanted, a loving wife, two daughters and also started a company. But he was never satisfied, the fact that he was in prison for so long, his cravings to have sex with teenage boys have only been amplified.

John Wayne Gacy — From successful to Serial Killer

One night when John Wayne Gacy was hanging out at the Greyhound bus station, then he spotted a 16-year-old boy named Tim Mccoy, who was traveling during Christmas time. Gacy started flirting with him and offered him to show around the city.

The two had sex but John Gacy became so angry at himself for giving in to his homosexuality, that he grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Tim in the chest multiple times. He then buried the boy in the dirt basement crawl space underneath his house.

Gacy and Carol married 7 months later and she moved into the house with her daughters but had no idea that the house she was moving in had a young boy buried below her feet.

Gacy continued with his urges and started painting himself into a clown, and called himself “Pogo The Clown.” Gacy in his clown makeup started showing up at the local hospital to do magic tricks for the children who were sick. Pogo the clown could do all the things that he himself could not do.

His wife Carol noticed that his personality drastically changed after he began to play Pogo the Clown. John refused to have sex with her and, made her feel worthless. The couple filed for divorce in 1975, when he was 33 years old.

John Wayne Gacy would now drive around town dresses in his full clown makeup and if a boy was spotted he would hold a gun against his head and force them into the car. He would rape and stab them before burying them in the basement.

John Wayne Gacy’s Killing Spree — The one who got lucky

Burying all of those bodies was hard work, so he brought in one of his new employees, David Cram, little did David knew he was digging his own grave. Gacy told him to avoid certain areas and where not to dig. He claimed that he needed new pipings under the house.

David was in the town and was looking for an apartment, Gacy offered to rent him one of the bedrooms of his house in exchange for labor. A few days later Pogo the Clown walked through the door and David Cram was very confused, Gacy was drunk and his makeup was sliding off his face.

The clown spoke in his high pitched tone and asked David if he wanted “mai tai”. David thought this is some kind of a joke and agreed for drinks with him. Pogo asked him if he would like to see a magic trick and he put handcuffs on David’s wrists and threatened to rape him and kept saying “I’m going to rape you” over and over.

David kicked Gacy as hard as he could and ran for his life, and never spoke of this incident to anyone until many years later.

John Wayne Gacy’s Investigation and Trial & Interview

John Gacy’s last known victim was a 15-year-old named Robert Priest, who worked at the Des Plains pharmacy. Gacy turned up at the pharmacy asking if he could speak to the owner. He offered to renovate their pharmacy and casually asked if he knew any of the teenage boys who were looking for a job because he was willing to pay $5 per hour for construction.

The amount Gacy was offering was double the amount he was getting at the pharmacy so he called up Gacy’s company to apply. Gacy however, ran out of room in the basement since there were 27 corpses beneath his house.

John Wayne Gacy's house.
Officers recovering dead corpses from Hohn Wayne Gacy’s house.

After murdering Robert he dumped the body in the river. This was the end of the killer Clown as when the police found the body, it was easy for them to take the testimonies and connect the dots.

When the officials approached Gacy he was confident that he would not get caught so he invited the investigators over to his house for dinner and drinks. One of the officers was able to smell the rotten corpses coming through the air vents.

The officers came back with a warrant and discovered the dead bodies. When he was brought in for taking a mugshot, he was asked basic questions to which he gave some irrelevant answers, when asked “Where were you born”, Gacy replied “Out of Chaos,” he started to laugh at his own joke.

When he knew that police found the bodies and he had no escape he quickly claimed that he had multiple personality disorder and he had no control over what Pogo the clown did. After his psychological evaluation, it was obvious to everyone that he was just trying to plead insanity but he seemed to be fully aware of what he was doing.

John Gacy had the best defense team anyone could ask for, during the trial, because of his ties to the local government. While in prison he began to draw a picture of clowns and sold his artwork. During every interview, he did behind bar, John Gacy claimed that he was innocent and refused to take the blame for any of his actions.

At one point, he even decided to write a book, where he claimed that the bodies in his basement were part of a setup to ruin his political career. May 10, 1994, was the day of his execution, people stood outside of the prison, chanting “Kill Him! Kill Him!”

John Wayne Gacy was given a lethal injection and he died, the crowd outside cheered and this was the end of child serial killer.

After his death, the doctors removed his brain to look for any kind of abnormalities that might give them some clues as to why he had become a serial killer, but there was nothing to be found, the debate is still going on.

Now that you’ve read about the clown killer, read about Satan Worshiper and America’s most prolific serial killer Richard Ramirez. You might also like reading about this Gentle Giant with 6″9 Height and IQ above 145 becoming a Serial Killer

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