Top 10 Gruesome Facts About John Wayne Gacy
Are you scared of clowns? Stephen King’s IT may have played to a popular fear of the scary killer clown but if you thought that they were a figment of popular imagination, think again. Truth is always stranger than fiction and America was, for a time, home to a real life killer clown and indeed the life and crimes of John Wayne Gacy inspired King to write the character of Pennywise in IT.
Not funny in the slightest, the disturbed John Wayne Gacy was a complicated character. He was at times a precinct captain and candidate for the Democrat party, a leading member of the Jaycees, a mortuary attendant, a KFC franchise manager and the owner of a construction company. He was married twice but his real passion was for young boys whom he often lured into danger with promises of construction work with his firm. He raped and killed his victims by night but hid his depravity behind a façade of a committed philanthropist, attending children’s parties and fundraising for worthy causes in his alter-ego, the personal of the genial ‘Pogo the Clown’.
John Wayne Gacy was one of America’s most prolific serial killers, responsible for the deaths of at least 33 young men and the rape and torture of many more. Here are 10 facts you may not have known about the real life Pennywise, America’s very own killer clown.
10. Gacy Worked As A Mortuary Attendant As A Young Man and Had A Troubled Relationship With His Father
Gacy was very close to his mother but had a difficult relationship with his father who beat his son (and his wife) regularly and who had difficulty understanding or liking his overweight son. Several incidents in his childhood may have contributed to his depravity in later life.
When he was only 9 years old he was sexually assaulted by a family friend, Gacy felt unable to tell his family for fear that his father, who was already labelling him a sissy who would become a ‘queer’ would place the blame on him. When he was aged 11, he suffered yet more difficulties when he was hit in the head by a swing which left him with a blood clot which restricted blood flow to his brain and caused periodic black outs. The clot was dissolved by medication when he was 16 but a year later he was diagnosed with heart problems which he claimed would continue to plague him throughout his life although no definitive diagnosis was ever made.
Gacy moved to Las Vegas in 1962 in order to get away from his father. While he was there he found work as a mortuary attendant, as part of the job he was given a place to sleep close to the embalming room. While there he discovered that he had a fascination with dead male bodies when he was alone one evening with the body of a young man. He climbed into the coffin with the body where he lay down with it, caressing and cuddling it.
He came to his senses a short while later and called his mother to arrange to come home. This attraction to dead men would become a recurring trait in his life, he frequently kept the bodies of his victims as close to him as possible for as long as the decomposition of the bodies would allow.
9. Gacy Was Married Twice
In 1964 Gacy met and married his first wide, Marlynn Myers. Gacy seemed like a respectable proposition at the time as he had just been named the Springfield Jaycees Man of the Year. His father in law owned some KFC restaurants in Iowa and gave Gacy the opportunity to work there. Gacy threw himself in to this opportunity, working his way up through the business and in the meantime his wife gave birth to two children.
Marlynn started proceedings for divorce when Gacy was sentenced for sodomy (see 8 below) on the basis that he had broken his marriage vows. Gacy was so outraged that he told his former wife that she and the children were, henceforth, dead to him. He never saw any of them again.
In 1972, now living in Illinois, Gacy married a high school friend, Carole Hoff and became a stepfather to her two daughters. Hoff knew all about Gacy’s past but thought that he had left his criminal nature behind. The couple never had any children of their own and by 1975 Gacy had admitted to his wife that he no longer wanted to have sex with her and began bringing gay pornography home. His wife even found wallets and personal items belonging to men but Gacy would never answer the questions she asked about them and she thought they were left behind by ‘assignations’ he brought home with him. She divorced him in 1976.
8. Gacy Was Imprisoned For Sodomy
Not long after his move to Iowa rumors began to spread that Gacy was engaging in relations with men who worked for him in the restaurants. He was a known participant in the unpleasant side of the Waterloo Jaycees club which included prostitution, drugs and pornography, Gacy claimed that his first homosexual experience was with another Jaycees member.
He ran a club in his basement where he socialized mostly with adolescent boys and young men. Gacy was not satisfied by his home life and found sexual relations with his wife to be unsatisfactory, even picking up a man in a bar the night his son was born. In 1968 a young man accused Gacy of luring him to his home where he was tricked into being tied up and was subsequently raped, a series of actions which were to become his modus operandi in later attacks. While waiting for trial Gacy arranged for another young man to beat up his accuser in order to intimidate him into refusing to give evidence. The attempt did not work; the young man went straight to the police. His assailant, when caught, immediately informed the police of Gacy’s involvement in the attack.
Gacy was sent to prison for 10 years but served less than 2 years of his sentence following which he was paroled for good behavior. The decision of the parole board appears even more bizarre when the psychiatric evaluation that was made at the time of the original trial is taken into account – it said that Gacy was antisocial and would not be able to benefit from any known medical treatment. The board must, therefore, have realized that he was at danger of re-offending on release. Once out of prison Gacy left Iowa and returned to live with his mother in Illinois.
7. Gacy Was Photographed With the First Lady
Despite the problems in his marriage and his past conviction, Gacy was interested in making a name for himself in politics. His interest in social position had been evident from the early days of his adult life and his heavy involvement with the Jaycees both in Illinois and in Iowa.
He came to the attention of the Norwood Democrat Party when he volunteered the services of his company to repair and clean the Democrat Party Headquarters. As a result of his volunteer work he was nominated to the street lighting commission and by 1975 he was secretary/treasurer. Gacy became a precinct captain and, as such was even photographed with the then First Lady, Rosalynn Carter in 1978 (the same year he was arrested) having been cleared as safe by the Secret Service.
6. Gacy Had A Number of Victims Who Escaped
A large number of Gacy’s victims or prospective victims managed to escape his clutches, particularly in the early days before his thirst for murder became unquenchable.
In 1973 he raped a young employee while on a work trip to Florida. On their return to Chicago the young man bravely drove to Gacy’s home to confront him, the confrontation ended up as a fight which Gacy explained to his wife, was as a result of a disagreement over unpaid salary.
While he was working at the Democrat Headquarters Gacy made a pass at a young boy Tony Antonucci. He rebuffed the advances but, a month later at Gacy’s home he tricked Antonucci into putting on handcuffs and started to undress him. Antonucci, a wrestler, had ensured the cuffs were loose and so was able to wrestle Gacy to the ground , cuffing him in turn and only releasing Gacy when he promised to leave him alone.
David Cram, one of Gacy’s employees, lived with him for a short while and was asked by Gacy to dig ‘trenches’ under his crawlspace (Gacy used these trenches to bury his victims). One night Gacy approached Cram while he was wearing his clown costume. He tricked Cram into putting on some handcuffs and threatened to rape him. Cram managed to escape but continued to maintain sporadic contact with Gacy. There were rumors that he was one of Gacy’s accomplices to later murders.
Two other victims, Robert Donnelly and Jeff Ringall were abducted by Gacy at separate times. Both were drugged, restrained, raped and tortured before being let go, Donnelly reported to have been in so much pain during the experience that he even begged for death and Gacy admitted to him that he was ‘getting round to it’. Nobody has been able to explain why these two were allowed to live when other victims were killed.