John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy (March 17, 1942 - May 10, 1994) was an American serial killer. He was convicted of the rape and murder of thirty-three men between 1972 and his arrest in 1978. He became notorious as the "Killer Clown" because of the many block parties he attended, entertaining children in a clown suit and makeup.
Gacy was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. He worked briefly in Las Vegas, Nevada before returning to Chicago. He attended business college and began a moderately successful career at a shoe company. In 1964 he married and moved to Waterloo, Iowa, where he managed a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant belonging to his wife's family.
But soon, his demons surfaced. The night his son was born on February 24, 1966, Gacy met a man at a bar; he recalled feeling exhilirated and ashamed by their encounter. Yet, he went to the hospital the next morning to see his wife and son as though nothing had happened. In May 1968 he was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years. His wife divorced him. Throughout his life, Gacy would vehemently deny that he was gay, but that he was instead bisexual.
He was paroled in 1971 and returned to Chicago where he worked for a construction contractor. In 1975, he bought a house in the Chicago suburb of Des Plaines, where his lived with his now-widowed mother, and established his own home improvement business, PDM Contracting. He married a woman he had known since high school, and she and her two daughters moved in with him (his mother moved out). He became a prominent local businessman, a member of the Jaycees and a Democratic precinct captain. It was also during this time he claimed his first known victim, a teenage boy he picked up at a bus depot. His marriage fell apart and his wife divorced him in mid-1976. Free of family obligations, Gacy began his double life: respected member of the community by day, sexual predator and murderer by night.
No suspicion fell on him until late 1978 when he was investigated following the disappearance of a teenage boy who was last seen with Gacy. A search of his house revealed a number of incriminating items related to other disappearances. In December 1978 Gacy went to the police and confessed. He claimed he had first killed in January 1972. He confessed to 33 murders, indicating where the bodies were in 28 of the cases—buried under his house. The other five he said where thrown into the Des Plaines River. Most of the victims were young male prostitutes. Some victims were also teenage boys who Gacy had hired in his contracting firm. Bodies were uncovered from December 1978 to April 1979 when the last known victim was found downstream in the Illinois River.
On February 6, 1980, Gacy's trial began in Chicago. During the trial Gacy's plea of not guilty by reason of insanity was rejected and he was found guilty on March 13 and sentenced to death. On May 10, 1994 he was executed in an Illinois prison by lethal injection. His execution was a minor media sensation, and large crowds of people gathered on the grounds of the penitentiary where it occurred. In a display of what has been called "shocking bad taste," vendors sold T-shirts and Gacy merchandise, and the people cheered at the moment when Gacy was pronounced dead.
Some have pointed to his poor relationship with his alcoholic father and head trauma and subsequent blackouts in his teens years to provide some basis for his acts. However, an examination of Gacy's brain after his execution by the forenseic pyschiatrist hired by his lawyers revealed no abnormalities. She has said Gacy didn't fit into any psychological profile associated with serial killers, and the reasons for his rampage will probably never be known.