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It takes a devious type to throw parties for hundreds of people while hunting their children; to entertain as a clown with so much malice at heart; to be against hitting children while strangling young men.  It takes a devious heart to live with being John Wayne Gacy.




John Wayne Gacy was born March 17th, 1942.  His father, John Stanley Gacy, was abusive, and thought his son was relatively worthless.  John Stanley controlled his wife, son, and two daughters financially, emotionally, and physically.

Young John had medical problems as a youth that confused his doctors.  For no apparent reason, the boy would pass out.  His father accused him of faking it for attention, until doctors found a heart problem to blame for some of the troubles.  Another potential cause of the fainting spells was a head injury Gacy suffered when he was hit with a swing at age 11.


John met and married  a woman named Marlynn and had two children, a son and a daughter.  After Gacy was convicted on a sodomy charge in 1968, Marlynn left him and took the children.  Gacy served 3 years of a 10 year sentence before being paroled.  He was a model prisoner.

John married his second wife, Carol, who had two daughters of her own, and settled his family in Waterloo, Iowa. 

Gacy worked as an independent contractor, hiring many young men to do odd jobs for his business.

He became active in his community and worked low-level political jobs.  Gacy was proud of his political connections, and was known to be a hard worker, as well as a perfectionist.  Gacy threw annual parties that often had more that 200 neighbors, friends, employees, clients, and local politicians in attendance.

The darker side of his life was visible only to a few.  His wife grew weary of his controlling behavior, and left him.  He was again accused of a sexual assault, but the plaintiff failed to show up in court, so the charges were dismissed.


The first murder, Gacy claimed, was an accident of sorts.  A young man had stayed the night at his home, and when John awoke, he claimed the boy was standing over him with a knife.  They tussled, and the boy was killed.

When John went into the kitchen, the table was set, and it appeared the boy had been making breakfast.  The bacon, which Gacy bought in bulk to save money, was on the counter.  The boy had taken out the knife to cut the meat.  Gacy could only guess at what the boy had come into the bedroom to ask.

Gacy buried the body of his first victim in the crawlspace below his house.

The others Gacy claimed were not truly killed by him, but by his other personalities.  He explained a complex system of personas.  There was the true John Gacy: the perfectionist, the workaholic, the do-gooder, the compassionate religious man, the politician, the holder of the loving sex drive, and the man who entertained sick children at the hospital as Pogo the clown. 

Unconsciously, at least four other personalities came out, according to Gacy.  There was Jack Hanley, who was the holder of the violent sex drive, who picked up many of his victims, often young men hustling on the streets; Jack Hanley as the bad cop; Jack Hanley as the good cop and fatherly figure; and the killer, whom Gacy labeled "the Other Guy". 

Gacy's interest and admiration for police made his "hunting" personality a cop.  His personalities were never confirmed beyond his own claims.

Several of the young men were not immediately reported missing because they had been separated from their families already and had little contact.  Others who were reported gone by family members were not investigated because the missing youths were over 18, and were too old to be runaways.

Gacy's methods of killing were exposed when he let one of his victims go after raping and torturing him by repeatedly holding his head under water.

Gacy has become known for two tricks reported by this surviving witness: the handcuff trick, and the rope trick.

The handcuff trick was a way Gacy conned young men into getting into handcuffs.  He would talk the trick up as if it were a piece of magic. The young man would put the cuffs on, and then learn that the trick was that you needed the key to get out of them.  By then, it was too late.

The rope trick was a method of strangulation that involved tying a length of rope around the throat of a victim once, placing a broken hammer handle in it, and then tying another knot.  The handle could then be turned like a water faucet to control the amount of air the victim could receive.

As Gacy's story went, he would black out, then Jack Hanley would take over and cruise the streets looking for a victim.  Jack would bring the young man home and kill him.  The next morning, John would find the body, assume he had done it, and bury it in his crawl space.

When he was finally discovered and arrested on December 21, 1978, a gruesome scene revealed itself under John Wayne Gacy's home.

29 bodies were decomposing under the floor, literally bursting with the noxious gases that build up within a corpse.

4 other bodies were found in a nearby river and attributed to Gacy.

On March 12th, 1980, a jury rejected Gacys insanity plea, and he was sentenced to death for committing 33 murders.

On May 10, 1994, John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection.  His death did not go smoothly, however.  The chemicals gelled in the delivery tube, causing them to stick.  His execution took a full 18 minutes.

It is rumored that he may have killed even more, in as many as 14 other states, where he worked remodeling pharmacies.  On the back of one of his paintings--a hobby he has become well known for--he wrote a haunting message: "Find the bodies if you can."


(resources for the passage and)
Recommended Reading:
Cahill, Tim.  Buried Dreams
    Bantam Books, New York. 1986
Moss, Jason. The Last Victim
    Warner Books, Inc., New York. 1999