John Wayne Gacy
March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994
To many people, John Wayne Gacy was a friendly man who loved to entertain young children. He frequently dressed up as his alter ego, Pogo the Clown, at parties that he hosted for his entire neighborhood. By 1978, public perception of Gacy would change forever, and he would earn the ominous nickname of “the Killer Clown”.
The first warning sign about Gacy appeared in 1964, when he was found guilty of sodomizing two young boys. Gacy was arrested and spent 18 months in prison. By the time he was released, Gacy was divorced and decided to move to Chicago for a fresh start.
In Chicago, Gacy founded a successful construction business, attended church, re-married, and volunteered as the Democratic Precinct Captain in his area. During this time he threw elaborate block parties and built a solid reputation in his community. Gacy was respected and admired by friends, neighbors, and police officers.
During July of 1975, a teenager who worked for Gacy disappeared. His parent’s pleaded with Chicago police officers to investigate Gacy, but they never did. This would not be the last time worried parents asked officials to review Gacy as a suspect, but the pleas fell on deaf ears. In 1976, Gacy divorced for a second time, and it seemed to give him a feeling of personal freedom. Unknown to anyone else at the time, Gacy began to rape and kill young men. Over a period of just a few years, he murdered 33 people, 29 of whom were found underneath Gacy’s house — 26 in the crawlspace and 3 other bodies were found in other areas beneath his home.
A young man went to the Chicago police for help in 1977, claiming that he had been kidnapped and molested by John Wayne Gacy. A report was made, but officers failed to follow up on it. The following year, Gacy murdered a 15-year-old boy who had gone to Gacy’s home to ask about a job with his construction company. This time, the Des Plaines police got involved and searched Gacy’s home. They found a class ring, clothing for much smaller individuals, and other suspicious items. Upon further investigation, officers discovered that the ring belonged to a teenage boy who was missing, and they found a witness who claimed Gacy had admitted to killing up to 30 people.
Gacy was arrested, and used an insanity plea in the hopes of a not guilty verdict. The ruse did not work, and he was found guilty. On May 10, 1994, John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection.