March 12, 1980: John Wayne Gacy Found Guilty of Murder


John Wayne Gacy was a serial killer and sex offender who murdered 33 young men and boys during the 70s, while maintaining a fairly normal life outside of his murder spree as a party clown. (Or, as normal as can be under the party clown circumstances)

He committed his first murder as an alleged act of self defense in 1972, and after the divorce of his 2nd wife, began killing more regularly until being caught in 1978.

Though Gacy spent some time in prison for the 1968 sodomy of a teenage boy, he was released in under 2 years for good behavior. Though it may not have curtailed his desire to hurt and kill kids, his 10 year sentence would have lasted his entire killing spree.

He committed all of the murders inside of his home, where all but a few were buried. Most in his crawl space, some under floorboards and in the backyard, and the last few in a nearby river.

Gacy was sentenced to death on March 13, 1980, 40 years ago today. He was executed on May 10, 1994.


Before becoming a serial killer, or even a criminal, Gacy was just an overweight, unathletic loser. (Loser is my own word, but Wikipedia's only description of young Gacy was "overweight and unathletic, which is a little bit hilarious).

His father was an alcoholic who was physically abusive to his wife and children, and in the spirit of most serial killers experiencing a childhood head trauma, his father hit him over the head with a broomstick and rendered him unconscious when he was a child. His mom tried to protect him from the frequent and aggressive beatings, but that just made him angrier, calling him a "sissy" and saying he would grow up to be gay.

Due to a heart condition, he wasn't able to play sports, and as an average student with few friends, he was often the target of bullying. He did have a run-in with bad sexual behavior in 1949 when he and another boy were caught fondling a young girl, but his father just whipped him with a razor strop and called it a day.

His heart condition caused blackouts and seizures, and according to him, from the ages of 14-18 he collectively spent about a year in the hospital. His father always thought he was faking it.

He got into politics at the age of 18, causing a further divide between he and his father. Later on, he took a job as a mortuary attendant. During his morgue time, he would sleep in the embalming room on a cot. Once, he climbed into a coffin with a deceased male, but the experience freaked him out and he asked if he could move back in with his parents.

Despite not finishing high school, he got into business school and married Marlynn Myers, and also had one of his first homosexual experiences at the same time. He also got involved with the local Jaycees and was excelling.

Marlynn's dad offered him the opportunity to run 3 KFC's in Waterloo, Iowa, and he jumped on it, as it paid a lot of money. He and his wife had 2 children, Michael and Christine, and he claims his life was perfect at this time. Allegedly, his father even apologized for everything, saying he was wrong about his son.

But things weren't all doting husband and loving father for a budding serial killer, and Waterloo's culture of wife swapping, prostitution and porn was enticing to Gacy, and he got involved. He even invited people into his basement to partake, a space I lovingly referred to as a "creep cave" in my notes.


In 1967, Gacy committed sexual assault against a 15 year old after luring him to his house. He was doing all sorts of creepy activity, including likely assaulting other youths, and trying to convince some of them to have sex with his wife. In 1968, his victim told his father what happened, and he was promptly arrested and charged with sodomy, though he denied the charges.

That year, Gacy asked an employee if he would assault the victim by spraying him with mace and beating him up to dissuade him from testifying, and he did. But he escaped, went to the police, and Gacy just ended up slapped with an intimidation charge, too.

During a psychological evaluation, he was found to have antisocial personality disorder, but doctors did not think it would improve with treatment. He was found competent to stand trial, and he was convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

His wife divorced him, took the kids, and he never saw her again.

But Gacy was a model prisoner. He took a job as the head cook in the prison cafe, joined the inmate Jaycee chapter and grew their membership significantly (which doesn't seem like that impressive of a feat given the lack of activities in prison, but okay) and got his high school diploma.

His dad died on Christmas of 1969 which caused him to break down sobbing, requesting a leave to go to his funeral but it was denied. But then, after only 18 months in prison, he was released. He got parole with 12 months probation, and had to live at home and be home by 10. His sentence was 10 years, as a reminder.

He rekindled an old romance from high school with Carole Hoff and they married in 1972. When they moved in together, his mother moved out. He was arrested for luring a kid into his car to perform oral sex on him 1 week before the wedding, but he didn't show up in court, so the charges were dropped.

At this time, he experienced a lot of jobs and lived a fairly normal life. He joined the Jolly Joker Clown Club where he became a clown. Great.


On January 2, 1972, Gacy picked up a 16-year-old boy from a bus terminal and drove him to his house so he could sleep there. Allegedly, when Gacy woke up, he found the kid holding a knife and a fight broke out. He killed him and buried him in the crawl space.

He found out after he killed him that he had made a breakfast for 2 and had entered the room to tell him breakfast was ready, and still happened to be holding the knife. Though drained from the murder, he said he experienced a "mind-numbing orgasm", which lead him to understand that killing was the ultimate thrill.

He killed a second time in 1974. The boy is still unidentified. He left him in his closet before burying him.

In 1975, Gacy told his wife he was bisexual and they would not be having sex again. This (coupled with likely various other reasons) lead to their divorce. So with the house to himself, he started on his murder spree.

His MO was a handcuff trick. He would handcuff the boys to "show them a trick" while they were still on flirtatious or otherwise positive terms, and then would tell them that the trick was you needed the key. Then he would torture and kill them.

His first post-divorce murder was an 18 year old boy, and a 15 year old came only 5 weeks later. He buried them both in the crawl space.

Listen. I will not go through every murder. He killed over 30 men and boys horrifically (but also very similarly). He was a monster. He lured them, tricked them, killed them, and buried them in his home.

In March 1978, he lured a 26-year-old into his car and chloroformed him and after being raped and tortured, he was dumped, still alive. He staggered to his girlfriend's house where he called the police. Gacy was not immediately investigated, but after he identified his car, they were on to him.

Gacy's last couple of victims were thrown into a river because he was worried about their bodies leaking from the attic, but was out of room in the crawl space.


He met a 15-year-old at a convenience store and told him he was hiring teens for more than what he was getting paid there. He disappeared, and coworkers remembered this exchange, which lead police to Gacy. They got a warrant to search his house, where they found class rings, drivers licenses, hand cuffs, and other extremely creepy trophies.

He was watched for awhile, once even inviting surveillance detectives to eat with him, where he said "you know, clowns can get away with murder."

But unable to kill and stressed from being watched all the time, he finally drove to his lawyer's house on December 20, 1978 and made a long, rambling confession to 25-30 murders. 2 days later, he confessed to police and drew them a map of where the bodies were buried in his home.

Over the course of the next week, bodies were recovered from the crawl space and elsewhere around his house.

During the trial, Gacy's defense team tried to argue that all 33 murders were accidental erotic asphyxia, which is bananas and also probably still a crime. They also tried an insanity defense, but to no avail. The jury deliberated for mere hours before returning a guilty verdict and sentencing him to die.

He stayed on death row for 14 years. There, he tried to appeal his conviction multiple times, but to no avail. He was also stabbed while in prison which seems like an okay thing to do to a serial killer, but he survived.

He was executed in 1994, and his final words were "kiss my ass".

There is no good way to wrap this up except to say, John Wayne Gacy is one of the worst people to have ever lived, and I am glad that a jury decided that he should die 40 years ago today.



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