Wednesday, 27 November 2013

John Wayne Gacy - The Killer Clown

File:John Wayne Gacy art.jpg
Image attribution: By The Orchid Club (originally posted to Flickr as John Wayne Gacy) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

John Wayne Gacy was a successful businessman, a husband, and a father. He used to dress up as a clown for fundraising events and to entertain sick children. He regularly threw cocktail parties for the local community. But beneath the mask of a model citizen lay the cold heart of a ruthless serial killer - one of the worst the world has ever known.

Between the years of 1972 and 1978, this well liked and respected man took the lives of some 33 boys and young men. Some of the victims were raped; some were tortured. All were killed on his property and most were buried there also.

The first victim was Timothy Jack McCoy, a 15-year-old boy who Gacy had encountered at a local bus stop. McCoy was lured back to Gacy's house with the promise of a bed for the night and a lift back to the bus stop in the morning. But Gacy killed the boy with a knife and buried the body in his crawlspace. Apparently the experience of murder was sexually arousing for the fledgling killer: he realised afterwards that he had had an orgasm. Gacy would later describe the act of murder as being the ultimate thrill.

The other 32 victims were all strangled or asphyxiated as this produced less mess than the knife. Some of them were picked up from the same bus stop as McCoy, whilst others were lured to Gacy's property with the promise of employment at Gacy's successful construction company, PDM Contractors (Painting, Decorating, Maintenance).

Like a large number of serial killers, Gacy experienced a traumatic childhood. His father was an alcoholic who would regularly beat Gacy's mother and siblings, as well as Gacy himself. On top of that, at the age of 9, Gacy was molested by a friend of the family. He also suffered from persistent medical problems, which resulted in him spending much of his adolescence in and out of hospital.

However, Gacy appeared to cope well with the hand he had been dealt. He got himself a place at Northwestern Business College, before getting married and taking over managerial responsibilities of 3 KFC restaurants. He worked hard, made good money, and even fathered two children. He was the very picture of success in both career and family life. He even managed to earn the approval of his once abusive father.

However, beneath the facade, Gacy was heavily involved in the seedier side of life. He would regularly cheat on his wife, and in 1968 he was arrested for persuading a 15-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him. For this he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

During his incarceration, Gacy was assessed by a psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD), a pervasive disregard for the rights and welfare of others. ASPD is closely related to psychopathy (some researchers actually consider the two to be synonymous) and is very difficult - if not impossible - to treat, even with modern drugs and psychotherapy. It should have been a warning sign for the authorities, but Gacy was released after serving only 18 months of his 10 year sentence. He relocated to Chicago, started PDM Contractors, and began murdering boys and men.

For his crimes, John Wayne Gacy was given 12 death sentences. He was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994, after spending 14 years on death row in the state of Illinois. His brain was examined after his death. No obvious abnormalities were detected.

You might also be interested in:
Jeffrey Dahmer - The Milwaukee Cannibal, Richard Ramirez - The Night Stalker, Ted Bundy - The Charismatic Killer

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