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John Wayne Gacy

Murderer

Born: 17 March 1942
Died: 10 May 1994 (execution by lethal injection)
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois
Best known as:

The "Killer Clown" who buried his victims in his house

Name at birth: John Wayne Gacy, Jr.

John Wayne Gacy was one of the most famous serial killers to come out of the 1970s, a part-time clown who murdered 33 young men and boys and hid their corpses in the crawlspaces of his house. Between 1972 and 1978 Gacy raped, tortured and murdered mostly teenaged boys he'd encountered in his position as the owner of a construction business or through his various community activities. A married father and step-father, Gacy was active in a variety of civic organizations and performed as Pogo the Clown for charity events, while at the same time leading a secret life as a murdering sadist. His story began to unfold after the December 1978 disappearance of 15 year-old Robert Piest, whom Gacy had encountered at a pharmacy in Des Plaines, Illinois. Gacy was a suspect in Piest's disappearance, and further investigation revealed that Gacy had been convicted in 1968 of sexually assaulting two teen boys in Iowa and had served 18 months in prison. As police were closing in on Gacy, he confessed to 33 murders, explaining that he'd hidden most of the bodies in his house, then dumped the rest in the Des Plaines River when he'd run out of room. His trial began in February of 1980 and five weeks later he was convicted and sentenced to death. To help pay for his legal costs, Gacy took up painting while in prison, building a portfolio of crude clown portraits for collectors of the macabre. He was executed by lethal injection on 10 May 1994.

Extra credit:

John Wayne Gacy was married and had two children when he was sent to prison in Iowa for sexual assault, but his wife divorced him and took the children in 1969; while doing his killing in Chicago he was married to a divorced woman with two kids between 1972 and 1978... Gacy was sentenced to death for 12 of the 33 murders because those 12 were determined to have occurred after Illinois reinstated the death penalty in 1976... At the time of his arrest for murder, Gacy was awaiting trial on sexual assault charges from an incident in July of 1978.

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More on John Wayne Gacy from Infoplease:

  • John Wayne Gacy - Biography of John Wayne Gacy, The "Killer Clown" who buried his victims in his house
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