John Wayne Gacy

Nickname: The Killer Clown

Reign of terror: 01/01/72 - 21/12/78

Motive: Sex and power

Crimes: Murder of 33 boys, some of which have still not been identified. Those identified include:

Date of disappearance Victim Age Where found
01 / 01 / 72 Tim McCoy - Gacy's crawlspace
21 / 07 / 75 John Butkovich - Gacy's garage
April 1976 Darryl Samson 18 Gacy's crawlspace
14 / 05 / 76 Samuel Todd 14 Gacy's crawlspace
14 / 05 / 76 Randall Reffett 15 Gacy's crawlspace
03 / 06 / 76 Michael Bonnin 17 Gacy's crawlspace
- Rick Johnston - Gacy's crawlspace
12 / 12 / 76 Greg Godzik 17 Gacy's crawlspace
14 / 06 / 76 William Carroll 16 Gacy's crawlspace
20 / 01 / 77 John Szyc - Gacy's crawlspace
15 / 03 / 77 Jon Prestidge 20 Gacy's crawlspace
05 / 07 / 77 Matthew Bowman 19 Gacy's crawlspace
15 / 09 / 77 Robert Gilroy 21 Gacy's crawlspace
25 / 09 / 77 John Mowery 19 Gacy's crawlspace
17 / 10 /77 Russell Nelson 20 Gacy's crawlspace
10 / 11/ 77 Robert Winch 16 Gacy's crawlspace
18 / 11 / 77 Tommy Boling 20 Gacy's crawlspace
09 / 12 / 77 David Talsma 19 Gacy's crawlspace
- William Kindred - Gacy's crawlspace
04 / 11 / 78 Frank Landingin 19 Des Plaines River
Thanksgiving 1978 James Mazzara 20 Des Plaines River
- Timothy O'Rourke - Des Plaines River
11 / 12 / 78 Robert Piest 15 Des Plaines River

Method: Strangulation or asphyxiation

Sentence: Death penalty - Gacy was executed by lethal injection on 11th May 1994.

Interesting facts: Robert Piest was the last boy to be killed by Gacy and his disappearance was the reason that Gacy was caught. Piest had been at work at the local pharmacy and Gacy had offered him a construction job, as he ran his own construction business. At the end of his shift, Piest was picked up by his mother, and told her he was just popping back inside to speak to a man about a job. However, he never returned and she left to go home. When he didn't return home at all that night the family contacted the police and started to search for him. They discovered that the construction man was John Wayne Gacy.

When the police found Gacy had previously been convicted for sodomy they went to his house. He was busy and unable to speak, so they left him, but kept surveillance. Gacy left the house but the police lost him. He finally turned up at the police station 6 hours later, saying he'd had a car accident. The next morning the police spoke to Gacy after which the police got a search warrant to search his house.They found a variety of odd articles, but not incriminating. They also found a customer photo receipt from the pharmacy. This turned out to belong to Kim Beyers, a friend of Piest who had put it in his jacket pocket when she borrowed the jacket the day he had gone missing. It was evidence that Gacy had met Piest.

Gacy was kept under surveillance for several days, although the police did lose him a few times. He became quite friendly at times with his surveillance officers, but another time was arrested for reckless driving. All this time, the police were collecting information about Gacy. His white Plymouth Satellite car turned out to previously belong to John Szyc, who was now missing. He was a member of the Jaycees - the Junior Chamber of Commerce, had organised the Polish Constitution Day Parade in Chicago, did various charitable works and dressed up as a clown for children's parties. He had been married twice, but both wives had left him and he had several young male friends, who often stayed round his house.

One such man told police how Gacy had been most upset when they searched his house and made him check the attic and the crawlspace to make sure nothing untoward had happened and that nothing had been taken. He also told police how Gacy had a drainage problem in his crawlspace and he and another man had dug trenches 6 feet long and 1 1/2 feet deep and wide so that pipes could be fitted. He also had disturbing stories relating to Gacy's homosexuality and how he had tried to have sex with him several times and captured him in handcuffs once.

Despite all the circumstantial evidence obtained, it took a long time for another search warrant to be obtained. When it was, on 22nd December 1978, officers immediately went to the crawlspace, while other officers searched the house. Their discovery that Gacy had John Szyc's television paled into insignificance when the crawlspace officers had finally managed to drain sufficient water from the crawlspace (Gacy really did have a drainage problem). In the mud they found adipocere flesh, which resembles soapy lard. They then found a bone, and knew that they had finally got Gacy.

The excavation that ensued was not a straightforward one. Gacy's crawlspace was full of buried bodies and the smell was very bad indeed. It was also very cramped and there was a drainage problem. Some of the floorboards of the house had to be taken up so that work in the crawlspace could take place. The officers did the work in shifts, as it really was a health hazard working in those conditions. The excavation continued until the New Year, during which time around 24 bodies were found.

Back at the police station and faced with the discovery of the bodies, Gacy made a mostly full confession, although he tried to implicate his two young friends into the whole affair. He told the police how he had killed them all by strangulation and how he had tricked them into being handcuffed with a "magic trick". He also mentioned an alter-ego, Jack, who he blamed for the murders. At his trial, this alter-ego was discredited as something Gacy had made up so that he could claim insanity.

Gacy's trial began on 6th February 1980. The prosecution case consisted mainly of Gacy's confessions. The defence case was mainly expert witnesses who tried to show that Gacy was insane. They claimed that Gacy was a paranoid schizophrenic and that at the time he committed the murders did not know that what he was doing was wrong.

Robert Piest's body was eventually found on 9th April 1979 in the Des Plaines River.