Real life horror: John Wayne Gacy


(Last year, I did posts on lesser-known serial killers. I decided to switch gears this year, because typing “serial killers that no one has heard of” into Google has probably put me on a few F.B.I. watch lists. I was originally going to subtitle this post “Fuck Clowns”, but changed my mind at the last minute.)

John Wayne Gacy Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, on St. Patrick’s Day in 1942. He was in and out of hospitals throughout his childhood and sucked at school, dropping out of his fourth high school in his senior year and hitting the road for Las Vegas. He found jobs hard to come by with no high school diploma (stay in school, kids!) and eventually went back to Chicago. Somehow, he graduated from business school and took a job as a salesman with Nunn-Bush Shoe Company. He was a born salesman, a gregarious guy who joined every civic organization he could: The Catholic Inter-Club Council, The Federal Civil Defense for Illinois, the Jaycees, and a shit-bunch of others.

Gacy eventually married Marlynn Myers, a fellow Nunn-Bush employee whose father owned a few Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises. Gacy’s new father-in-law put him to work at a KFC in Iowa, where Gacy worked 12-hour days, when he wasn’t hanging out with the Jaycees.

Somehow, Gacy found the time to father a son and a daughter, and to rape a teenage boy– Wow, that was a bit abrupt!

Gacy’s family and friends probably thought the same thing when he was arrested in May 1968 for the crime. Rumors had been flying around for a while, though, about Gacy’s tendencies to hit on the teen boys who worked at his chicken joint.

Gacy denied the crime, as you do. Then he hired an 18-year-old boy to beat up his accuser, initially offering 10 bucks, then throwing in an extra 300, which would have paid off the teen’s car loan. As you also do, apparently. The teen ended up getting his nose broken by Gacy’s accuser, who of course told the cops what had happened.

Gacy was sentenced to 10 years, the maximum time for sodomy, at the Iowa State Reformatory for Men. His wife divorced him soon after, and amscrayed with the kids. Gacy never saw them again.

Gacy was a model prisoner, and was paroled in June 1970 after serving 18 months. He went back to Chicago and restarted his life, a bit easier back then without the pesky Internet and sex offender registers. He moved in with his mom (his father died while Gacy was in prison) and stayed with her while he worked as a chef in a Chicago restaurant. Four months later, Mama Gacy helped her son buy a house; he owned half, his mother and two sisters owned the other half.

The house was a 1950s-era ranch-style located at 8213 West Summerdale Avenue in the Norwood Park Township. It had two bedrooms and a crawl space.

Roughly eight months after moving in, Gacy, still on parole, was charged with disorderly conduct. Apparently, he picked up a boy at a bus station and forced him to perform sexual acts upon Gacy. The charges were dropped when the boy failed to appear in court.

In 1972, he married again, this time a divorcee with two daughters. His new wife and stepdaughters moved into the house, only to discover a strange smell permeating the house. They weren’t the only ones; guests to the house (Gacy liked throwing barbecues and theme parties) noticed the stench too. A dead rat, the neighbors told Gacy. Nah, said Gacy. The problem’s moisture build-up in the crawl space.

Well, it was something to do with the crawl space.

In 1974, Gacy traded his cook’s whites for . . . whatever contractors wear. He started his own company, PDM Contractors (Painting, Decorating, and Maintenance). Now he was his own boss, free to hire all the teenage boys he wanted.

1976 saw Gacy and his second wife divorce. They had drifted apart, due to Gacy’s disinterest in sex with someone who wasn’t a teenaged boy tied to his bed. Gacy also became more active in local politics and volunteer work. He created a clown persona, Pogo, and appeared at local fundraisers.

Have a balloon! They’re inflated with screams and tears!

Ah God, I’m getting the creeps here.

Of his known 33 victims (their ages ranged from 14 to 25, and 7 bodies are to date still unidentified), 3 were employees of his company and that number doesn’t take into account the ones he lured to their deaths with the promise of employment.

Gacy dumped 5 bodies into the Des Plaines River; as he later told investigators, he was running out of room in his crawl space. One victim was found buried near his backyard barbecue pit.

One of the bodies thrown into the river would finally bring down Gacy: 15-year-old Robert Piest, who wasn’t at his pharmacy job when his mom arrived to pick him up on December 11, 1978. Piest’s manager recalled the boy talking with the contractor that the pharmacy was thinking about hiring for a remodeling job: John Wayne Gacy.

After a missing persons report was filed, Des Plaines police knocked on Gacy’s front door. Gacy bullshitted his way out of the interview, claiming that he’d just had a death in the family. He promised to show up later at the police station for questioning, and he did . . . covered in mud. He said he’d been in a car accident; nope, nothing serious, but thanks for the concern, I know nothing of the lad’s disappearance and this definitely is not river mud . . . Bye!

The police did a background check and uncovered Gacy’s past arrest in Iowa for sodomy. They managed to obtain a search warrant, and on December 13, 1978, they entered his house. A box containing marijuana, various rings and 2 driver’s licenses was found, along with a receipt for a roll of film that had been processed at Nisson Pharmacy, the same pharmacy the missing Robert Piest worked at. Police also found several articles of clothing that were too small for Gacy’s fat ass.

It didn’t take the cops long to decide to sort out Gacy’s annoying crawl space smell. They entered the crawl space, and found that its ground had been covered in quick lime. They weren’t able to dig, though, but once they learned 3 missing boys had worked for Gacy, and that one of the rings they’d found was linked to a missing youth, and the receipt was linked to a roll of film dropped off by Robert Piest, they went back to the house.

This time, they were able to thoroughly search the crawl space. Out came the shovels, and up came the bodies.

Gacy was arrested on December 22, 1978, and confessed to burying bodies beneath his house, as well as dropping them into the Des Plaines River. Piest’s body would be found in the river in April 1979.

Gacy was sentenced to death on March 11, 1980. He was transferred to the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois, where he stayed on death row for 14 years. In the meantime he painted, usually of himself as Pogo the Clown.

Finally, on May 10, 1994, he died via lethal injection. Reportedly, his last words were, “Kiss my ass.” His house was demolished by the city in 1979.

Homicidal clown on your porch? A 12-gauge shotgun will fix that.
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