I’ve been thinking of the appropriate way to give this piece the introduction I believe it deserves, but this case is such a big one. John Wayne Gacy is up there with some of the worst of all time and this has been gruelling to write and research, the only thing I can really say is, aside from the murder and sexual assaults I wish I was as dedicated and productive as Gacy.
Gacy was born 17th March 1942, in Chicago, Illinois. He was the only son of three children born to John Stanley Gacy and Marion Elaine Robinson. Gacy’s father was a WWI veteran and an auto repair machinist while his mother was a housewife. Gacy’s paternal grandparents were Polish immigrants that had fled to the United States while Poland was part of Germany. Growing up Gacy was overweight and not athletic, due to the strained relationship he had with his father who was a physically abusive alcoholic, he was close with his two sisters and mother.
Their relationship was continually strained throughout Gacy’s childhood and he would try everything to make his father proud, but his father would often belittle his efforts, compare him to his sisters unfavourably to his sisters and call him “dumb and stupid”. Gacy also mentioned the physical violence he endured at his father’s hand, one of his earliest childhood memories was his father beating him with a leather belt at age four after he had accidentally rearranged some car engine parts his father had assembled, he was also hit over the head with a broomstick and was knocked unconscious on another occasion. His father escalated as Gacy got older, when he was 6 years old Gacy stole a toy truck from a local shop, his mother caught him, made him return the toy and apologise to the shop owner. When his father fund out he beat Gacy with a belt, his mother stepped in this time and shielded Gacy from the attack, after this Gacy was met by further verbal abuse with his father now calling him “momma’s boy” “sissy” and “queer”. A high school friend of Gacy’s also recalled that throughout his teens his father would ridicule or beat his son for no reason, in one incident in 1957 he said that Gacy’s father started to shout at him and beat him while Gacy’s mother tried to intervene, he noted that during the entire beating Gacy never once hit his father back he just stood there with his hands raised to try and defend himself from the blows.
Gacy and another young boy were caught molesting a young girl in 1949, his father whipped him with a razor strop as a punishment for this incident, in the same year Gacy was also sexually abused by a family friend, he was a contractor that worked on the family home, he would take Gacy in his truck and molest him, Gacy never spoke out about the abuse afraid that his father would blame him.
Gacy was an occasionally a target for bullying from neighbourhood children and classmates, he was an average student that didn’t have many friends, he would run errands for neighbours and teachers, as well as assisting the school truancy officer. Gacy also had several medical troubles throughout his adolescence, he was ordered to avoid sports due to a heart condition and began to experience blackouts when he was in the fourth grade, these blackouts would leave him hospitalised. Between the ages of 14 and 19 Gacy believed he spent around a year in hospital due to these episodes and he attributes the time out of school for his low grades. It seems that these blackouts or seizures are a result of damage from his father’s beatings. His father however didn’t believe Gacy’s illnesses he thought Gacy was faking the episodes to gain sympathy and attention and would openly say so while his son lay in a hospital bed. His mother, sisters and close friends did not doubt his condition, even though no diagnosis was ever found.
Gacy’s political career began at age 18 in 1960, when he worked as an assistant precinct captain for a Democratic Party candidate in his neighbourhood, this move attracted more criticism from his father, who accused Gacy of being a “patsy”. When asked about his political career after arrest he admitted that it may have been a way for him to gain the approval he never had from his father.
His father further escalated his mental abuse a year into the beginning of Gacy’s political career, he bought teenage Gacy a car but put the ownership of the vehicle in his name, until Gacy had completed the monthly repayments, which took years to complete. The keys would be confiscated by Gacy Snr if Gacy did not obey him, so Gacy made a copy of the original set to regain some control, and in response his father would remove the distributor cap and withhold the part for days. When speaking of this period Gacy said it left him “totally sick and drained” after the part was returned Gacy had enough and ran away to Las Vegas, Nevada and found work with the ambulance service, then he was transferred to work as an attendant in Palm mortuary. He would watch the morticians embalming and preparing the bodies in this job and even slept in a cot in the embalming room. The job took a sinister turn one evening when Gacy admitted that he climbed into the coffin of a teenage boy, he caressed and embraced the body.
Gacy called his mother the next day and asked if his father would allow him to return home after three months away from home, his father agreed, and he left for home that day. When he returned Gacy enrolled in North western Business College and graduated in 1963 to a management trainee position within the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company.
His worked transferred him to Springfield, Illinois in 1964 to work as a salesman, he was promoted to manager of his department in the March of the same year. Gacy got engaged that year also to Marlynn Myers, a co-worker in his department, they married after a 9-month relationship. After the wedding Myers’ father bought three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Waterloo, Iowa. Gacy and Myers left for Iowa so Gacy could manage the restaurants on behalf of is father-in-law, they also vacated their home so Gacy and his wife could move in.
Gacy joined the local Jaycees (the United States Junior Chamber) and worked tirelessly for the organisation, he was named Key Man for them in 1964, this was the same year Gacy admitted to having his second homosexual experience. This happened after a drunken night out with a colleague, according to Gacy this colleague had plied him with drinks, and invited him to sleep on his sofa, when they got back the colleague then performed oral sex on Gacy. The following year Gacy had risen to vice president of the Springfield Jaycees and was voted the third most outstanding Jaycee in the state of Illinois. Gacy relocated again in 1966 to Waterloo, Iowa. He left after his father in law had purchased another three KFC restaurants and Gacy was offered the position of managing them after completing the obligatory managerial course. This offer was incredibly lucrative, Gacy received $15,000 per year ($115,274 in 2018) and a share of the profits from the restaurant.
Gacy also transferred to the Waterloo chapter of the Jaycees and once again, put in extended hours and hard work into the organisation. His colleagues at the new restaurants saw Gacy as a braggart and too ambitious, but the Jaycees held him in high regard due to his involvement in several fund-raising projects. After a year in Waterloo his popularity was apparent as Gacy was voted “Most outstanding vice president” of the Waterloo Jaycees in 1967. It was reported that Gacy would provide free fried chicken to his colleagues and asked to be given the nickname “Colonel”.
It’s clear that the move to Iowa was the perfect career move for Gacy, and it seemed that professionally his life was perfect, in his personal life things were also “perfect” when his wife gave birth to their first son Michael in February 1966, and then their daughter Christine in March 1967. When asked Gacy described this period as perfect, but to him it was perfect because this is when he finally got the approval of his father, he said that his parents visited them in Iowa and his father apologised in private for the physical and mental abuse throughout his childhood and he proclaimed proudly “Son, I was wrong about you”.
It is said that at the time the Jaycees had a dark and seedy side in Waterloo, some activities included wife swapping, drug use, prostitution and pornography and Gacy admitted to being involved in many of these activities and cheating on his wife numerous times with local prostitutes. Gacy’s seedy behaviour seemed to spread into his work life as it was reported that he had a “club” in his basement where he allowed his teenage employees to drink alcohol and play pool, he would employ both males and females at his restaurants, but he tended to pay more attention to his teen male employees. He would give them alcohol and Male sexual advances on the boys and if these advances were rejected, he would play them off as a “joke” or “test of morals”.
The first of many of Gacy’s sexual assaults happened in August 1967, the victim was a 15-year-old boy named Donald Voorhees, he was the son of a fellow Jaycee, Gacy reportedly lured Voorhees to his house under the promise of showing him porn, Gacy gave Voorhees alcohol and persuaded him to perform oral sex on him. It is said many other victims came forward from this time and all were groomed and abused in the same way, one youth was forced to have sex with Gacy’s wife before Gacy blackmailed him into performing oral on him. Gacy also tricked several local teenagers into sex acts by telling them he had been commissioned to perform “homosexual experiments” for scientific research, he would pay the youths $50 each for their “participation”.
Voorhees spoke up about Gacy abusing him in March 1968, he told his father and the police were immediately informed, Gacy was arrested and charged with oral sodomy in relation to Voorhees and he had attempted assault charges relating to another 16-year-old boy named Edward Lynch. Gacy denied these charges and demanded a polygraph test, he was given one, but results showed that he was nervous when he denied any wrongdoing.
Gacy continued to claim his innocence and claimed the charges against him were politically motivated, he said that Voorhees had opposed Gacy’s nomination for appointment as president of the Iowa Jaycees. Many other Jaycees believed Gacy’s story and rallied around him, he was however indicted on the sodomy charge.
With Gacy’s assault trial imminent, Gacy needed to discourage Voorhees from testifying against him. On 30th August 1968, Gacy persuaded one of his 18-year-old employees named Russell Schroeder, to physically assault Voorhees, Schroeder was promised $300 for doing this for Gacy. He didn’t follow through with Gacy’s request until early September, that’s when he lured Voorhees to an isolated county park, sprayed mace (given by Gacy) in his eyes and beat him while he shouted that he was not to testify against Gacy.
Voorhees managed to survive this attack and reported the assault immediately, he identified Schroeder as his attacker and he was arrested the following day. Schroeder initially denied any involvement in the attack but did eventually confess to the attack and admitted to following Gacy’s orders. Gacy now faced additional charges relating to hiring Schroeder to assault and intimidate Voorhees, on 12th September 1968 Gacy was made to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the Psychiatric Hospital of the State University of Iowa, Gacy was examined by two doctors over seventeen days and they concluded that Gacy suffered from antisocial personality disorder and was unlikely to benefit from therapy or medical treatment, they further theorised that his pattern of behaviour in these assaults was likely to bring him into repeated conflicts with society. One psychiatric evaluation from 1968 said: “The most striking aspect of the test results is the patient’s total denial of responsibility for everything that happened to him. He can produce an “alibi” for everything. He presents himself as a victim of circumstances and blames other people who are out to get him. The patient attempts to assure a sympathetic response by depicting himself as being at the mercy of a hostile environment.”
Gacy’s arraignment was held on 7th November 1968 and on the advice of his attorney he entered a guilty plea to one count of sodomy in relation to the charges Donald Voorhees filed, but pleaded not guilty to the other charges put against him by the other youths that came forward. He claimed in court that Voorhees had offered his sexual services to Gacy and that he had acted out of curiosity, and that’s how the two men ended up engaging in sexual relations. Gacy was not believed by the court and was convicted on 3rd December 1968 of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years at Anamosa State Penitentiary, despite his lawyer recommending probation. Marlynn for divorce on the day Gacy was convicted, she requested possession of the home they owned, property, sole custody of their children and subsequent alimony payments, the court ruled in Ms Myers’ favour and the divorce was finalised on 18th September 1969, it is reported that Gacy never saw his first wife o two children ever again.
Gacy’s ambition was apparent during his incarceration, he quickly gained a reputation as a model prisoner, within a couple of months he had been promoted to the position of head cook and joined the inmate Jaycee chapter, while a member he raised their membership figure from 50 to 650 in the span of 18 months. He did some good during his time inside, he secured an increase in the inmate’s daily pay, he supervised several projects to improve conditions for inmates and he oversaw the installation of a mini golf course in the prison rec yard.
Gacy made his first application for release to the State of Iowa Board of Parole in June 1969 but was denied. After the first rejection he scheduled another hearing for May 1970, in the time between hearings he completed sixteen high school courses and obtained his diploma in November 1969.
Gacy’s father also died while he was incarcerated, he died from cirrhosis of the liver on 25th December 1969, Gacy was not told until two days after his death and it has been said that upon hearing the news Gacy collapsed to the floor in uncontrollable sobs, requiring support from prison staff, he made a request for supervised leave from prison to attend his father’s funeral, this request was also denied by the prison.
On 18th June 1970, Gacy’s parole was granted, he served 18 months of his ten-year sentence, he was granted a 12-month probation, there were conditions to his parole including a 10pm curfew and he had to relocate to Chicago to live with his mother, Iowa Board of Parole also received regular updates on his progress since release. He arrived in Chicago on 19th June 1970 and obtained a job as a short order cook in a restaurant.
Gacy faced more charges on 12th February 1971, when a teenage boy claimed Gacy had lured him into his car at a Greyhound bus terminal, he said Gacy drove him to his home and forced him into sex. This was dismissed when the teenage boy failed to turn up to court, and the Iowa Board of Parole did not learn of this incident that would have breached his probation and his probation ended 8 months later in October 1971. The following months, the records detailing Gacy’s previous criminal convictions in Iowa were sealed the following month.
With support from his mother Gacy was able to buy a house in Norwood Park Township, an unincorporated area of Cook County. The infamous address 8213 West Summerdale Avenue is where he lived up until his final arrest, and where all the known murders were committed.
Gacy met his second wife Carole Hoff in August 1971, this was shortly after Gacy and his mother moved into the house, Hoff was a divorcee with two young daughters who Gacy had briefly dated while in high school. The couple quickly moved into together and announced their engagement and got married on 1st July 1972.
During his time dating Carole, Gacy took his first known victim 16-year-old Timothy Jack McCoy was abducted and murdered on 2nd January 1972, McCoy was picked up by Gacy at a Greyhound bus terminal while he was travelling from Michigan to Omaha on a sightseeing tour of Chicago. Gacy drove him to his home under the promise of somewhere to stay for the night free of charge and a ride to the bus station in the morning. When recalling this murder Gacy claimed McCoy was standing in his bedroom doorway the following morning with a kitchen knife, he said he leapt from his bed and McCoy raised in hand in a surrendering gesture, and cut Gacy’s forearm while tilting the knife upwards (he did have a scar that corroborated this) he said he then twisted the knife from McCoy’s wrist, banged his head against the bedroom wall, kicked him against the wardrobe and walked towards him. McCoy then kicked Gacy in the stomach, so Gacy grabbed him, wrestled him to the floor and stabbed him repeatedly in the chest as he straddled McCoy. After the murder, Gacy went downstairs to the kitchen and found bacon and eggs on the kitchen table with everything laid out for breakfast, he realised McCoy had been coming to wake him and was just carrying the knife absentmindedly, Gacy buried him in the crawl space and covered McCoy’s body with a layer of concrete. When Gacy spoke about the first murder he said he felt “totally drained” yet he said he experienced a mind-numbing orgasm from killing the youth and added “that’s when I realized that death was the ultimate thrill”.
Gacy seemed to try and recreate the thrill of the murder as he continued to go on the hunt for young men. just a week before his wedding on 22nd June 1972 he was arrested again in relation to another assault on a youth named Jackie Dee. Dee claimed that Gacy was impersonating a police officer, he said he’d flashed his sheriff’s badge and lured him into the car where he then made Dee perform oral sex, these charges were dropped however as Dee attempted to blackmail Gacy into paying Dee to drop the charges.
Newly married Gacy quit his job as a cook and started his own construction business called PDM contractors (the PDM stood for Painting, Decorating, and Maintenance), the business was small to start taking on small repair work such a redecorating and pouring cement. The company expanded later to include interior design, remodelling, landscaping and installations. By 1978 PDM was earning $200,000 annually.
PDM was expanding rapidly by 1975 and Gacy stated that during this busy period he was working 12- and 16-hour day to increase contracts and fulfil demands. He admitted that this was the year his sexual excursions with young males increased in frequency. Gacy used the business to abuse the high schoolers and young men that he employed. Gacy took one young man to Florida to view a property he was interested in buying, on the first night in the hotel Gacy raped the young man, after this he refused to share a room with Gacy and slept on the beach, when they returned to Chicago he drove to Gacy’s house and attacked him while he worked in his yard, Gacy’s mother-in-law pulled the young man off before the attack got too severe and Gacy told her he attacked him because he refused to pay him over poor quality work. Another employee of Gacy’s Anthony Antonucci he hired in May 1975, had been working for Gacy for two months when he injured his foot at work, Gacy went to visit the youth while he was at home alone and plied him with alcohol, he wrestled Antonucci to the floor and cuffed his hands behind his back, the cuff on his right hand was loose so he managed to get free when Gacy left the room. Gacy returned and Antonucci whom was a member of the high school wrestling team pounced on him, wrestled Gacy to the floor and cuffed Gacy’s hands behind his back, Gacy screamed and threatened the teen, but calmed down and promised to leave if he removed the handcuffs. The youth agreed and Gacy left, when he recalled this incident Antonucci said that while he lay on the floor Gacy told him: “Not only are you the only one who got out the cuffs; you got them on me”.
Gacy continued to prey on his teenage male employees at the construction firm despite his failed attempt on Antonucci, just a week later 29th July 1975 17-year-old John Butkovitch disappeared, people reported that the day before he disappeared Butkovitch had argued with Gacy over two weeks-worth of backpay. Gacy lured the youth to his house under the guise of settling the backpay while his wife and stepdaughters were visiting his sister in Arkansas. Gacy conned Butkovitch into the handcuffs and cuffed his hands behind his back, Gacy then strangled him to death and buried him under the concrete floor in his garage. Gacy also admitted that he sat on Butkovitch’s chest for some time before killing him. During the investigation into Butkovitch’s disappearance his Dodge Sedan was found abandoned with his wallet inside and the keys still in the ignition, his father called Gacy as that’s where Butkovitch was heading before he disappeared and Gacy offered his help to search for him and even offered his condolences for his son having “run away”. Gacy was questioned and admitted that Butkovitch and two friends had arrived at his apartment demanding the pay, but claimed a compromise was reached and the three left. Over the next three years Butkovitch’s parents called the police over 100 times urging the police to look further into Gacy’s involvement.
Despite his predatory activities, Gacy’s neighbours considered him a helpful and active member within the local community, he hosted annual summer parties that started in 1974 that saw him the centre of attention at the barbeque. He also became an active member in Democratic Party politics. Gacy was rewarded for his services to the community and was appointed to serve on the Norwood Park Township street lighting committee, earning the title of precinct captain in 1975. Between the years of 1975 to 1978 Gacy was appointed director of Chicago’s annual Polish Constitution Day Parade, and through his work with this he was photographed on 6th May 1978 with the first lady at the time Rosalynn Carter.
In January 1974, just before he started hosting his summer parties, Gacy took his second known victim, the unidentified youth was found during the recovery of the bodies, he was estimated to have been between 14- and 18-years old with medium brown hair, his cause of death was ruled as strangulation. Gacy hid the boy’s body in a closet prior to burying him about 15 ft from his barbeque pit, he stated that when he hid the body fluid leaked out the boy’s mouth and nose and it stained the carpet, so after this he would tuff rags or the victim’s underwear in their mouths to avoid this happening again.
Gacy joined a local Moose Club and through this membership he learned of a “Jolly Joker” clown club, the member would perform at fund-raising events, parades and they would volunteer to entertain hospitalised children. In late 1975 had created his own performance character for the Jolly Jokers the most infamous “Pogo the Clown” and “Patches the Clown” Gacy designed his own costumes and taught himself how to do the clown make-up. Gacy performed as Pogo or Patches at local parties, Democratic party functions, charitable events and children’s hospitals. It’s been reported that he would also turn up to his regular drinking spot dressed in the clown costumes saying he had just come from some sort of event.
Gacy came out as bisexual in 1975 and told his wife after they had sex on Mother’s Day that this would be “the last time” they would ever have sex, following this he would spend most evenings away form home and return in the early hours with the age-old excuse of working late. For months after his confession Carole observed Gacy bring teenage boys back to their home and she found gay porn in the house, Carole did not ask Gacy for a divorce until October 1975 following a heated argument after she failed to balance a PDM Contractor’s cheque book correctly. Gacy agreed to the divorce by mutual consent and Carole continued to live in the house until February 1976, her and her daughters then found an apartment.
Although Gacy still kept up his clean image after the divorce, neighbours did notice some erratic changes in Gacy’s behaviour, they would hear his car come and go during the early hours of the morning, lights switching on and off in his home at odd hours, and frequent young male visitors to the property. This behaviour started after his divorce in 1976 and carried on until his arrest in 1978. After his arrest one neighbour said she recalled being woken in the early ours often by muffled screaming, shouting, and crying, she and her son identified it as coming from one of the houses adjacent to theirs on Summerdale Avenue.
Most of Gacy’s known murders were committed between 1976 and 1978, his abductions and murders increased in frequency around this time as he now had the house to himself. A month after his divorce he abducted and murdered 18-year-old Darrell Sampson, he was last seen alive on 6th April 1976 in Chicago. He struck again five weeks later on 14th May 1976, he abducted 15-year-old Randall Reffett. Reffett disappeared while walking home from Senn High School, and just hours after 14-year-old Samuel Stapleton also disappeared while he walked home from his sister’s apartment, both boys were buried in the crawl space in the same grave.
On 3rd June 1976 17-year-old Michael Bonnin from Lakeview disappeared while he travelled frim Chicago to Waukegan, Gacy picked him up, took him back to his house and strangled him with a ligature and buried him in the crawl space. Gacy struck again just ten days later 13th June 1976 16-year old William Carroll was murdered, it is suspected that that Carroll may have been the first if four other young men murdered between 13th June and 16th August 1976, all these victims shared a common grave beneath Gacy’s kitchen and laundry. Three of these victims (including Carroll) were aged between 16 and 17 years old and one was an unidentified male with dark brown hair, estimated age between 23 and 30 years old, this man had two missing upper front teeth. 16-year-old James Haakenson was buried beneath the unidentified man, Haakenson was last known to have phoned his family on 5th August 1976 and never heard from again. Further digging into Haakenson’s grave showed that beneath him was another body, that of 17-year-old Rick Johnston from Bensenville, he was last seen alive on 6th August 1976 just a day before Haakenson disappeared.
Gacy employed 18-year-old David Cram on 26th July 1976, he worked for Gacy for three weeks and on 21st August he moved in with Gacy. One evening Gacy got Cram drunk and conned him into wearing the handcuffs, he swung Cram around by the chain on the cuffs and told him he intended to rape him. Cram had spent a year in the Army so was able to put up a fight, he kicked Gacy in the face and freed himself as Gacy was still stunned from the kick. Cram continued to live with Gacy and a month after the cuff incident Gacy appeared at ram’s bedroom door and told him “Dave, you really don’t know who I am. Maybe it would be good if you gave me what I want” Cram managed to fight off the second attempt at assault and left his bedroom, he moved out and quit his job at PDM after this, however it had been reported that he did do some work for Gacy in the following two years.
Gacy’s abducted two teenage boys on 24th October 1976, Kenneth Parker and Michael Marino were last seen outside a local restaurant on Clark Street, they were later found in a shared grave in Gacy’s crawl space both had been strangled. On 26th October 1976 one of Gacy’s employees 19-year-old William Bundy disappeared after telling his family that he was attending a party, Bundy was also found strangled in the crawl space.
Another employee of Gacy’s disappeared in December 1976, 17-year-old Gregory Godzik had been working for PDM for three weeks and mentioned to his family that Gacy had him “digging trenches for drain tiles” in his crawl space, it became apparent after Gacy’s arrest that he was in fact getting some of his victims to dig their own graves. Godzik was last seen by his girlfriend when he dropped her off at her house, his car was later found abandoned in Niles. Godzik’s mother and sister contacted Gacy about Godzik’s disappearance, he claimed that he had run away from home and that he had indicated to Gacy that he planned to do so, he also said that Godzik had left him a message on his answering machine shortly after he disappeared, when asked if he could play it for his family Gacy said he had erased it.
An acquaintance of Butkovich and Godzik, 19-year-old John Szyc was lured to Gacy’s house under the pretext of selling Gacy his Plymouth Satellite, Szyc was found in Gacy’s crawl space in above the body of Godzik, when Gacy’s house was searched a ring that Szyc wore with his initials on was found in the dresser in Gacy’s master bedroom, from Szyc’s murder Gacy kept a portable TV that Szyc had on his person and he sold Szyc’s car, he sold Szyc’s car to anther young man named Michael Rossi, who later moved in with Gacy.
Somewhere in between December 1976 and March 1977 Gacy killed a 25-year-old man, who remained unidentified, he is believed to have been called Greg or Gregory due to a key fob found with personal items buried with the victims, he was buried beneath 20-year-old Jon Prestidge from Michigan who was visiting friends in Chicago, Prestidge was killed on 15th March 1977. Gacy is believed to have killed one more victims around this time hat remains unidentified, the timing of this victim’s death is inconclusive, but with the position he was buried in the space directly beneath Gacy’s front door and the fact he was buried next to two youths that were murdered in May 1976 give some idea, but with the pattern of burial with three victims murdered in 1977 do leave a possibility that this victim could have been murdered in the spring or summer of 1977, all that is known about this victim is that he is between 17 and 21 years old and that he suffered a fractured left collarbone that looked like it was done before he disappeared.
Gacy expanded his construction business in March 1977 when he was hired as a construction supervisor for a company called PE systems, they specialised in the nationwide remodelling of drugstores, this contract caused Gacy to travel to other states regularly to supervise projects, he stated that during this time he would be working on four projects simultaneously. Almost 80 buildings were remodelled in 1977 through Gacy’s work. Gacy got engaged again in April 1977 and Michael Rossi moved out of Gacy’s home, he had been dating this woman for three months prior to the engagement, it was short lived as they broke up in June 1977 by mutual agreement and she moved out of Gacy’s house.
With the break-up still fresh and the house empty again, Gacy abducted and killed 19-year-old Matthew Bowman, he was strangled with a tourniquet that was found around his neck when his body was pulled out of the crawl space. Suspicion fell on Gacy a month after Bowman’s murder in August 1977 when his former lodger Michael Rossi was arrested for stealing gasoline while driving John Szyc’s car, the police traced the licence plate and the car was traced to Gacy’s address, the police went to speak to Gacy and he told them that Szyc had sold him the car in February as he needed money to leave town, the police did not pursue it any further, but did inform Szyc’s mother that he had sold the car to Gacy.
Gacy and his ex-wife Carole Hoff began dating again in late 1977, but while he dated Hoff for a second time, he did continue to murder young men, it is believed that he took another six victims all aged between 16 and 21 around this time. 18-year-old Robert Gilroy the son of a Chicago police sergeant was the first of these six, he was last seen alive on 15th September 1977, he was suffocated and buried in the crawl space. There is proof that Gacy had flown to Pittsburgh for work on 12th September and didn’t return to Chicago until 16th September, Gacy did make claims that he did not act alone in all the murders, so this fact does corroborate that, did Gacy have a partner? Was it a lover of Gacy’s leaving him a “gift”? another Jaycee into the same things sexually? Or could it have been a young man being groomed by Gacy and abused by Gacy trying to seek his approval by bringing him someone else to abuse?
On 25th September 1977 a U.S Marine named John Mowery aged 19 disappeared after he left his mother’s house to walk home to his apartment, Mowery was strangled and buried in a northwest corner of the crawl space.
On 17th October 1977, 21-year-old Russell Nelson from Minnesota disappeared, he was last seen at a bar in Chicago, he was later found in Gacy’s crawl space, his cause of death was suffocation as oppose to strangulation. Over the course of October and November 1977 he took another two victims, one being 16-year-old Robert Winch from Kalamazoo, he was strangled and buried in the crawl space. The other victim was 20-year-old father-of-one Tommy Boling, he was last seen after leaving a Chicago bar, he was also strangled and buried in the crawl space. Both victims were located under the hallway of the house.
On 9th December 1977, Gacy murdered another U.S. Marine, 19-year-old David Talsma disappeared told his mother he was attending a rock concert in Hammond before he disappeared. Talsma was strangled and buried and in the crawl space. On 30th December 1977 19-year-old student Robert Donnelly was abducted from a bus stop at gunpoint, Gacy drove him back to him home, raped him, tortured him with various devices and repeatedly dunked his head in the filled bath tub until he passed out. Donnelly was assaulted and tortured for several hours, Gacy drove Donnelly to his place of work and released him, Donnelly reported the assault and Gacy was questioned on 6th January 1978. When questioned Gacy said that him and Donnelly had consensual “slave sex”, he was believed, and the no charges were filed. Donnelly testified at Gacy’s trial and said he was in so much pain that he begged Gacy to kill him and “get it over with” to which Gacy replied “I’m getting to it”.
Gacy changed his method of disposal after the murder of 19-year-old William Kindred, Kindred disappeared on 16th February 1978, he told his fiancé he was spending the evening in a bar, Kindred was abducted, strangled and buried in the crawl space. Gacy began dumping his victims in the Des Plaines River, by throwing them off the I-55 bridge. Gacy said during his confession that as he was running out of space in the crawl space, he considered stowing the victims in his attic, but was worried about “excessive leakage”.
Gacy confessed to throwing five victims off the I-55 bridge in 1978, he said one of which may have landed on a passing barge, however only four out of the five bodies were ever found. The first victim known to have been thrown off the I-55 was 20-year-old Timothy O’Rourke, he was killed in June after leaving his apartment on Dover Street to go and buy some cigarettes, his body was found on 30th June 1978 about 6 miles downstream. On 4th November 1978 19-year-old Frank Landingin was murdered, his cause of death was certified as suffocation through his own underwear being lodged down his throat and plugging his airway, this basically caused him to drown on his own vomit and his body was found in the river 8 days later 12th November. On 24th November 20-year-old James Mazzara disappeared from his family home in Elmwood Park after eating Thanksgiving dinner with them, his body was found on 28th December, his cause of death was strangulation with a ligature.
Gacy visited a pharmacy in Des Plaines to discuss some potential remodelling work on 11th December 1978, he discussed this deal with the owner of the store Phil Torf, while he was in earshot of the 15-year-old employee, he mentioned his construction company hired teenage boys with a starting wage of $5 an hour, which was double the pay at the pharmacy. Robert Piest told called his mother after Gacy left the store and told her that “some contractor wants to talk to me about a job” he then left the store promising to return shortly. Piest’s family filed a missing person report with Des Plaines police, and Phil Torf named Gacy as the contractor that wanted to talk to Piest.
Gacy denied speaking to Piest when they police visited his home that evening, he said he’s seen two youth working at the pharmacy and that he had asked one of them who he thought might have been Piest whether there were any remodelling materials behind the store, he strongly denied ever offering Piest a job and he promised to come to the station the following evening to make an official statement confirming this, indicating that he couldn’t do it at the time as his uncle had just died. At 3:20am the following morning Gacy showed up at the police station covered in mud claiming he had been in a car accident. Gacy returned to the station later that day and continued to deny any involvement in Piest’s disappearance and he was adamant that he did not offer Piest a job. When asked why he returned to the pharmacy at 8pm on 11th December, he said that Phil Torf had called him and informed him he had left an appointment book at the pharmacy, but detectives had already spoken to Torf and no such call had ever taken place, Gacy did prepare a statement detailing his movements on 11th December 1978 upon detectives request.
Detectives at Des Plaines police were convinced of Gacy’s involvement, so they checked into Gacy’s record and hey discovered the outstanding battery charge in Chicago, and that he had served a prison sentence in Iowa for sodomy of a 15-year-old boy. A search on Gacy’s property was approved by a judge on 13th December 1978 and several suspicious items were found including a 1975 class ring with the initials J.A.S, various driver’s licences, handcuffs, a two by four with holes drilled in the ends, books on homosexuality and pederasty, a syringe, male clothing too small to belong to Gacy, a starter pistol, and a photo receipt from the pharmacy where he met Robert Piest. The police confiscated Gacy’s car and several of PDM’s vehicles and assigned two two-man surveillance teams to follow Gacy while they investigated.
Michael Rossi called the Des Plaines police department the following day to inform investigators of Gregory Godzik’s disappearance and the fact that another PDM employee Charles Hattula had been drowned in an Illinois river the previous year.
Further details of Gacy’s previous battery charge were obtained, the victim Jefferey Rignall had reported that Gacy lured him into his car, chloroformed him and raped him. Rignall was then dumped in Lincoln Park the following morning, he had evidence of facial and chest burns from the chloroform and he was suffering rectal bleeding from the assault. The same day the class ring belonging to Szyc was traced and his mother spoke to police, she informed the police of her son’s disappearance in January 1977 and that items were missing from his apartment, and that one of the investigators involved in Szyc’s disappearance had informed her that Szyc had sold his car to Gacy, they ran a VIN check and confirmed the car did in fact belong to Szyc.
Gacy was getting used to the surveillance detail and would regularly invite them to have meals with him at restaurants and for drinks with him in his home or at a bar, he would repeatedly deny any involvement in the Piest disappearance and often accuse the officers of harassment due to his political connections or his use of recreational drugs, he knew that these officers were not interested in any trivial offence he committed so he would regularly commit traffic offences and it’s been reported that he would lose his detail on several occasions.
A formal interview with Michael Rossi was conducted on 17th December 1978, he said Gacy had sold him the car as Szyc needed money to go to California, an examination was done on Gacy’s car later that day. A small cluster of fibres were found in his trunk, they may have been human hair. Police dogs were then used to determine whether Piest had been in any of Gacy’s vehicles, one dog went to Gacy’s car and laid on the passenger seat, the handler informed investigators this was a “death reaction” meaning the dog had picked up the scent of Piest’s body in the car. That evening the officers assigned to Gacy’s surveillance were invited for a meal with Gacy and then breakfast in the early hours of 18th December, he talked to them about his business, his marriages and his clown activity, he told one detective “you know clowns can get away with murder”.
Gacy was feeling the strain of the investigation at this point he was unshaven, tired, anxious and drinking heavily, he prepared a civil suit of $750,000 against the Des Plaines police demanding a cease in surveillance. A photo receipt from the Nisson Pharmacy where Piest worked was found in Gacy’s kitchen and traced to 17-year-old Kim Byers, she also worked in the pharmacy, she said she had worn Piest’s parka coat and left the receipt in the pocket before giving the coat back for Piest to leave the store to speak to a contractor, these details contradicted Gacy’s statements that he had no contact with Piest as the presence of the receipt indicated that he would have had to have had some contact with Piest after he left the pharmacy on 11th December1 1978.
Evidence was being compiled to obtain another search warrant for Gacy’s property on 19th December 1978 and on the same day Gacy began the proceedings for his civil suit against Des Plaines police, the hearing was then scheduled for 22nd December 1978. Gacy invited two surveillance officers into his home that afternoon, one officer distracted Gacy with conversation while the other tried to get a serial number off the Motorola TV in Gacy’s bedroom they believed belonged to Szyc. The officer flushed Gacy’s toilet and noticed that a smell he suspected was rotting corpse coming from the heating duct, during previous searches this was not noticed as the house was cold.
Former lodgers of Gacy’s David Cram and Michael Rossi were interviewed again on 20th December. Rossi was being interviewed in relation to his possible links in the John Szyc disappearance and with the Robert Piest disappearance. Det. Joseph R Kozenczak asked where Rossi believed Gacy had placed Piest’s body and he said, “in the crawl space, he could have put them in the craw space”. Rossi also agreed to a visual test, a map of Cook County was divided into 12 grid sections numbered 1 to 12 with Gacy’s home in section 4, Kozenczak noted that when he pointed at section 4 and asked if Robert Piest was buried there, Rossi’s blood pressure had an extreme response, Rossi asked to stop the visual and polygraph test, but did speak further about digging the trenches and how he was told while working in the crawl space not to deviate from where he was digging. Cram spoke to the investigators about Gacy’s attempts to rape him in 1976 and stated that when he came home from the search on his property on 13th December 1978, Gacy turned pale upon seeing a chunk of mud on the floor, he thought it had come from the crawl space, according to Cram Gacy grabbed a flashlight and went down to the crawl space to see if there was evidence of digging. Cram was then asked if he had ever been to the crawl space and he talked about working down there, Gacy had asked hi on one occasion to spread lime down there and dig some trenches, Gacy gave the excuse it was for the plumbing, these trenches however were 2ft wide, 6ft long and 2ft deep, this is the size of an average grave.
On 20th December 1978, Gacy drove to his lawyer Sam Amirante’s office in Park Ridge to attending a pre-scheduled meeting to discuss the progress of his civil suit. He appeared dishevelled and asked for an alcoholic drink, he got Gacy a glass of Whiskey, Amirante asked him what he wanted to discuss, Gacy then picked up a copy of The Daily Herald from Amirante’s desk and pointed to the front page article discussing the disappearance of Robert Piest he told Amirante “The boy is dead, he’s in the river”.
Gacy gave a rambling confession over that ran into the early hours of the morning, he told Amirante he had “been the judge, jury and executioner of many people” he said most were buried in the crawl space and some in the Des Plaines River. He referred to some victims by name, but most he just dismissed as “male prostitutes” “hustlers” and “liars”. He said that on some occasions he would wake up and find “dead, strangled kids” on the floor with their hands cuffed behind their back. Gacy stated that in relation to Robert Piest he had placed a tourniquet around his neck whie Piest was “crying and scared”. Gacy then passed out drunk in the middle of his confession, so Amirante arranged a psychiatric appointment for Gacy at 9am that morning. Gacy woke hours later, Amirante informed him that he had confessed to killing 30 people and Gacy said “I can’t think about this right now, I’ve got things to do” he ignored the appointment his lawyer had made for him and left the office to attend to business.
Gacy spoke about this day later after his arrest and said his last day of freedom had been “hazy” saying he knew arrest was inevitable at this point, so in his final hours he visited family and friends to say his farewells. Gacy drove to a Shell gas station after leaving Amirante’s office, he filled up his rental car and went to pay, he handed a small bag of cannabis to a young attendant at the gas station called Lance Jacobson, Jacobson immediately gave the cannabis to Gacy’s surveillance officers and told then Gacy had said “The end is coming for me, these guys are going to kill me”. Gacy then visited a fellow contractor Ronald Rhode, he hugged Rhode before telling him “I killed thirty people, give or take a few” he then left and went to meet Rossi and Cram, while he drove the surveillance officers noted that he was holding rosary beads to his chin and prayed while he drove along the expressway.
Gacy arranged to meet Cram and Rossi at Cram’s home, he had Cram drive him to meet his other lawyer Leroy Stevens, Cram told officers that Gacy had divulged to the two men that he had confessed to his lawyer to killing 30 people, after the meeting with Stevens Gacy had Cram drive him to Maryhill Cemetery where his father was buried.
Surveillance officers noted Gacy’s erratic behaviour that day and were concerned that he was planning to commit suicide, so they arrested him for possession and distribution of marijuana in order to keep him alive and in custody while they presented their formal request for a second search warrant. The warrant was to search for the body of Robert Piest, it was granted on 21st December 1978 at 4:30pm by Judge Marvin J. Peters.
Officers arrived at Gacy’s house with the signed search warrant to find that Gacy had flooded the crawl space by unplugging his sump pump, this delayed the search as they had or plug the pump back in and wait for the water to drain. Evidence technician Daniel Genty entered the crawl space, which measured at 28ft by 38ft, he crawled to the southwest area and began digging, he uncovered putrefied flesh and a human arm bone, he shouted for the investigators, so they could get Gacy’s charges filed and added “I think this place is full of kids”.
Gacy was informed that human remains had been found in the crawl space and that he would now face murder charges, he told officers he wanted to “clear the air”. On 22nd December 1978 Gacy made his official confession to officers, he admitted that since 1972 he had committed 25 to 30 murders all of whom he claimed to be male prostitutes or runaways. He admitted he would typically abduct the young men from the Greyhound bus station, from Bughhouse square or just off the streets, he would use force or con the victims into his car by showing a Sheriff’s badge and placing spotlights on his car to look like a police officer. He would lure other victims with the promise of a job or money for sex. Gacy was asked where he got the inspiration for the two-by-four found at his house from, he said he got the inspiration from reading about the Houston Mass Murders.
Gacy confessed to strangling Robert Piest at his house on 11th December 1978 after luring the youth three, he added that during the attack on Piest a business associate had called and interrupted him, he also admitted to sleeping with Piest’s body that night before disposing of the body in Des Plaines river the following evening. Gacy explained that after disposing of Piest’s body, he had gotten in a car accident on 13th December when he showed up at the police station dishevelled, he said the car had slid off an ice-covered road and got stuck, he attempted to free his car unsuccessfully and had to be towed out. To assist officers in their search Gacy drew a rough diagram of his basement through a phone message with the officers searching to tell them where the bodies were buried.
On 22nd December 1978 Gacy returned to his home accompanied by the police and showed them the location he had buried John Butkovitch’s body, he then took them to the I-55 bridge, only four out of the five victims he threw off the bridge were ever found.
27 bodies were recovered between 22nd and 29th December 1978 from Gacy’s property, 26 of them were buried in the crawl space, John Butkovitch was the one victim buried under the concrete floor of the garage, Gacy had precisely marked the grave with a can of spray paint. The excavation was postponed temporarily in January 1979 due to severe winter snowfall in Chicago, they did not restart the search until March, Gacy insisted at this point that all the bodies had been recovered.
The 28th body was found on 9th March 1979, he was found buried under the barbeque grill in the backyard. The victim was found wrapped in several plastic bags, he wore a silver ring on the fourth finger of his left hand, which means he may have been married. On 16th March the skeletal remains of another victim were found beneath the dining room, bringing the total of bodies in 8213 West Summerdale Avenue up to 29. The house was demolished in April 1979.
Several of the bodies found in Gacy’s properties were found with plastic bags over their heads or upper torso, some bodies were found to still have the ligature used to strangle around their necks, and others were found with cloth rags or underwear lodged deep down in their throats, this led the Cook County medical examiner to conclude that 12 victims in the crawl space had died of asphyxiation. It was also revealed that some of the victims had foreign objects in their pelvic region, the position of the objects indicated that the objects had been thrust into the anus. All the victims were in advanced stages of decomposition, so the medical examiners relied on dental records to identify the victims.
As well as dental records the medical examiners used other methods to identify the victims, two were identified because of their known connection with Gacy through PDM, some were identified via personal items at 8213 Summerdale Avenue, 19-year-old David Talsma was identified through radiology records of a healed fracture on the left scapula this matched the distress on the 17th recovered skeleton from the crawl space. The youngest of the victims found in the crawl space were Samuel Dodd Stapleton and Michael Marino, they were both 14, and the oldest was Russell Nelson who was 21-years-old, six victims of Gacy remain unidentified.
A decomposed body was discovered in the exposed roots on the edge of the Des Plaines River in Grundy County, through dental records the body was identified as Robert Piest, an autopsy revealed that three wads of paper-like material were shoved down his throat while he was alive, his cause of death was ruled as suffocation.
On 6th February 1980 Gacy was brought to trial on 33 murder charges, he was tried in Cook County, Illinois by Judge Louis Garippo, the jurors were selected from Rockford as there was significant press coverage surrounding Gacy’s case in Cook County. Gacy’s defence requested that he spend 300 hours of the year with doctors at Menard Correctional Center, he had a variety of psychological tests to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. Gacy attempted to convince these doctors that he suffered from multiple personality disorder, his lawyer opted to have Gacy plead not guilty by reason of insanity to the charges he was facing, they produced several psychiatric experts who had examined Gacy over the sessions to testify their findings, they testified that they found Gacy to be a paranoid schizophrenic with a multiple personality disorder.
The prosecutors argued that Gacy was sane and fully in control of his actions during the murders, they produced witnesses two of which were ex-employees at PDM, they confessed that Gacy had made the build trenches in the crawl space, David Cram also testified in that in August 1977 Gacy marked a location in the crawl space with sticks and told him to dig a drainage trench. Michael Rossi gave testimony immediately after Cram, he was asked if he had dug in the crawl space he pointed at a diagram of the Gacy home, this diagram showed where bodies were found, Rossi pointed to the location where the remains of an unidentified victim known as “Body 13” he stated that he had only dug this trench and none others, but upon Gacy’s request he would supervise other PDM employees while they dug trenches. Both employees testified that during the period they were working on the crawl space, Gacy would periodically look in the crawl space to ensure the employees would not deviate from where they were told to dig. Gacy testified previously that he had only dug five victims’ graves in his crawl space and had employees dig the remaining trenches to “have graves available”.
Final arguments from prosecution and defence began on 11th March and concluded within a day, the prosecuting attorney Terry Sullivan argued Gacy’s history of abusing young men, the testimony of his attempts to cover up their murders, and he described Gacy’s surviving victims as “the living dead” and said Gacy was one of the “worst of all murderers” stating “John Gacy has accounted for more human devastation than many earthly catastrophes, but one must tremble. I tremble when thinking about just how close he came to getting away with it all”.
Counsel Sam Amirante argued for the defence during the closing arguments Amirante accused Sullivan of not referring the evidence Presented throughout the trial in his closing argument and mentioned that Sullivan had an “arousing hatred against his client”. He then went on to portray Gacy as a “man driven by compulsion he was unable to control” this was in a bid to get a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, referring to doctor’s testimony for the defence, and to the testimony of Jeffery Rignall and Mickel Reed a former business associate of Gacy’s, both testified their belief that Gacy could not control himself. Amirante closed requesting the jury deliver a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, he urged them to “put aside any prejudices they held against his client” and added that Gacy’s behaviour would also be beneficial to scientific research and that his psychology should be studied.
On 12th March, the arguments for the prosecution continued, William Kunkle referred to the contention of insanity as “a sham” he argued that the facts of the case demonstrated Gacy had the ability to think logically and control his actions. Kunkle further mentioned Gacy’s diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder and how the doctors from the 1968 psychological exam stated that Gacy could commit crimes without remorse, saying that if the doctor had been listened to back then he wouldn’t have been free to kill. For his closing argument Kunkle showed 22 photos of Gacy’s identified victims to the jury asking them not to show sympathy, but to show justice he said “show the same sympathy this man showed when he took these lives and put them there” after Kunkle finished his closing argument the jury retired to consider the verdict.
The jury took less than two hours to deliberate and when they returned, they found Gacy guilty of thirty-three charges of murder that he had been brought to trial for, he was found guilty on further charges relating to Robert Piest’s murder including sexual assault and taking indecent liberties with a child. The following day the prosecution and defence made alternative pleas for sentencing, the prosecution requested the death penalty for each murder committed after the Illinois statue of capital punishment came into effect in June 1977 while the defence requested life imprisonment.
The jury deliberated on the sentencing for over two hours and returned with the decision to sentence Gacy to death for the 12 counts of murder and an initial execution date of 2nd June 1980 was set.
Gacy was then transferred to the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois, he remained in this facility for 14 years while he sat on death row. Gacy was isolated to his death row cell and began to paint, the subjects of his art were mainly clowns, some were paintings of himself as “Pogo the clown”, since his death his paintings have been displayed at exhibitions of macabre art and others have been sold for as much as $20,000. Gacy was permitted to earn money from his painting up until 1985, but Gacy claims he sold the paintings “to bring joy into people’s lives”.
On 15th February 1983 Gacy was attacked by a fellow death row inmate Henry Brisbon aka “The I-57 killer” Gacy was out of his cell doing volunteer work when Brisbon ran up to him and stabbed him once in the upper arm with a sharpened wire, another inmate William Jones was also caught in the attack and suffered superficial wounds to the head, both had treatment and recovered in the prison hospital.
During his incarceration Gacy read numerous law book and filed motions and appeals to his death sentence but was unsuccessful. His appeals related to issues such as the validity of the first search warrant granted by Des Plaines police on 13th December 1978 and the fact Gacy says he had “some knowledge” of five of the murders as the other 28 were committed by employees that had access to his property while he was away on business trips.
The Supreme Court of Illinois upheld Gacy’s convictions in 1984 and they ordered that he be executed by lethal injection on 14th November 1984. Gacy filed another appeal against this decision, which was again denied by the Supreme Court on 4th March 1985. Gacy filed a post-conviction petition the following year, his defence lawyer at the time Richard King argued that Gacy had ineffective legal counsel at his trial in 1980, this was again dismissed on 11th September 1986. With the decision to execute him being upheld Gacy appealed it again with it being denied on 29th September 1988 and the date of execution was again set for 11th January 1989. Gacy launched what would be his last appeal in October 1993, the Illinois Supreme Court set his execution date for 10th May 1994.
On 9th May 1994, a day before his execution Gacy was transferred to Menard Correctional Center to Statesville Correctional Center in Crest Hill. He was allowed a private picnic on prison grounds with his family that afternoon, his last meal was a bucket of KFC, a dozen fried shrimp, French fries, fresh strawberries and a Diet Coke. Gacy observed prayer with a catholic priest before he was led to the Stateville execution chamber for the lethal injection.
The execution ran into some problems when as they began the chemicals used unexpectedly solidified and clogged the IV tube stopping it from administering the chemicals into Gacy’s body, a problem that anesthesiologists blamed on the inexperience of prison officals. This complicated the procedure so the team drew the blinds of the execution room in order to replace the tube and continue, after ten minutes the blinds re-opened and the execution resumed, it took a total of 18 minutes to execute Gacy. The error in Gacy’s execution prompted the State of Illinois to adopt an alternative method of lethal injection to avoid anyone else having a complicated execution, William Kunkle one of the prosecutors at the trial said “He got a much easier death than any of his victims”.
His last spoken words were “Kiss my ass” however he left a final statement with his lawyer that said killing him would not compensate for the loss of others and that the state “murdering him”.
Gacy’s psychology is very interesting, the man was no question a monster that was not sorry for any of his crimes, he was clearly a gay man that couldn’t accept it for various reasons such as his father’s abuse, the way homosexuality was viewed at the time and his mental conditions. This lack of acceptance is a piece of what made him kill, the fact he wanted to have sex with men would have enraged him and reminded him of the things his father would say and do to control him and how the world may see him if they found out he was gay, that anger at himself was projected on to his victims in a bid for him to feel in control of his sexuality, this clear from the way he would cuff and silence his victims during the assaults because the victims were then left at Gacy’s mercy and under his control.
The diagnosis of psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder are apparent in Gacy in all aspects of his life he manipulated and charmed everyone within his communities, whether it was his work, his politics or even prison he always managed to make himself a “pillar of the community” and would thrive when he had the respect and adoration of his peers. This need came from him desperately trying to gain his father’s approval, the fact he needed to “blend in” and be normal and it was also a good way to gain the trust of young men and the parole board while he was in prison. These conditions are also the reason he didn’t show real remorse for his crimes, he physically couldn’t, it’s not that he doesn’t believe what he did wasn’t wrong he knew he just didn’t care because he got what he wanted/needed from his victims.
What he seemed to need from his victim was heavily sexual, this was the only way he could express his true sexual identity, I once heard a quote (can’t remember from what, it may have been Dexter) “my victims were the only ones who saw the real me” this is so true in Gacy’s case, but as I mentioned he had such a strong self-hatred hidden that once the victims saw the real him they had to die, he would have had his sexual release from the assaults and then he would have felt such shame for the homosexual act he would have felt the only way to keep his secret life hidden was to kill the person he had been intimate with. Gacy was also craving control, over his victims and in his life, he carefully created and maintained his high status within the community controlling how he was perceived and with his victims he took a more physical approach, the fact that always jumps out and me is the fact he often wrestled his victims himself, he wouldn’t try and threaten them with a weapon because he needed to feel the physical dominance he had over his victims, as well as then cuffing and either suffocating or strangling his victims shows he wanted control over life and death and wanted his victims to know that he was in control. The attacks mirror the physical abuse he suffered from his father, he was using the physical take down of his victims as a way of trying to regain the control his father took from him throughout his childhood. It’s worth mentioning that while in prison awaiting execution Gacy still needed to try and take control, his appeals seemed to be a way to try and intervene and determine his own fate rather than let the state decide.
One of the biggest arguments in court was whether he was sane or not, Gacy may have been mentally ill, but he was mentally capable enough to be held accountable for his crimes, he had graves dug ready for new victims, he hid evidence after the murders and he was always able to manipulate people with questions into not suspecting him. All of this shows that he had a clear concept of what was right and wrong, he was always ready to protect the secret life he built, and he wanted to carry on killing.