By ExoticHippieQueen © 2012
Few serial killers can claim the level of macabre notoriety in a contemporary setting as John Wayne Gacy. His name alone, when heard or read, initiates fear, repulsion and disgust. Gacy’s ability to strike these unpleasant emotions in us live on long past his relatively short time here on earth. Gacy, once voted “Man of the Year’ by the Jaycee’s, holds rank with the most famous killers of our time including Richard Speck, Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer.
While Gacy was in his teens, he and his father, an abusive alcoholic, suffered a difficult relationship. Even though Gacy Sr. was an unpleasant man, the young Gacy deeply loved him, and never stopped trying to win his love and attention. The two were never able to build a positive relationship before Gacy Sr. died, something which Gacy always regretted. One could theorize that this situation was possibly one of many contributing factors in the events yet to come.
Although Gacy and his father were estranged, his relationship with his mother and sisters was very strong. They provided support for him through the years as he suffered from a variety of health conditions related to his back, brain and heart. During Gacy’s early adult years, he married Marlynn Myers, had a daughter, and lived what appeared to be a “normal” life to those around him. He immersed himself in philanthropic activities within his community, mostly with the Jaycee’s, but other organizations as well. A constant theme throughout his life was his desire to be well-liked, accepted and esteemed within his community, and this was most important to him. Perhaps his inability to achieve the attention and love of his father was again a driving force here. He volunteered as Pogo the Clown and became well-known for this incongruous choice of identities.
Unfortunately, even as Gacy wore the mask of normalcy, the dark stirrings of his heart secretly grew. Rumors of his sexual activities with young men began to spread around the community that he strived to shine in. Through his adult life, he continued to drift in and out of trouble, always with the same theme, sexual misconduct with young boys on the perimeter of his life who had accidentally fallen into his sticky web. Finally the day arrived when he was unable to extricate himself from the accusations.
In the spring of 1968, Gacy was indicted by a Black Hawk County grand jury for allegedly committing sodomy with Mark Miller, a teenage boy who knew him. An emotional Mark Miller told the courts that Gacy had tricked him into being tied up during a visit to Gacy’s home, where Gacy violently raped him. Later when the facts were revealed, this scenario was played out over and over again with his victims.
Gacy spent ten years at the Iowa State Reformatory for men, which was the maximum sentence for that type of crime. He was twenty-six when he entered prison for the first time and was reportedly a model prisoner. Marlynn divorced him shortly after he was incarcerated on the grounds that he violated their marriage vows.
After Gacy’s release from prison, he quickly and deftly managed to set his life back on track. He returned to his hometown of Chicago, bought a 1950’s ranch home and was hired as a chef, just one of the many different hats that Gacy wore through out his life. Like a chameleon, he changed into whatever was needed at the time, and worked in construction, sales, and retail management. He was a clever businessman and entrepreneur whose engaging personality served him well. During his prison years, he created chilling paintings of clowns that would disturb anyone.
In 1972, Gacy married Carole Hoff, an emotionally vulnerable young mother of two daughers. Carole knew of his criminal past but was confident that he had moved past that and on to a bright future. He started a construction business and continued to work steadily at gaining the attention and approval of his friends and neighbors by throwing huge barbecue’s, one with 300 people attending. The good times didn’t last long. Only three years later, Gacy and Carole’s sex life had come to a halt, and the rumors about his homosexual desires for young boys began to creep further into their marital life. Gacy became more nonchalant about leaving reading materials around the house with content centered around naked boys and men, leaving no doubt in Carole’s mind as to where her husband’s desires were focused.
During this period of Gacy’s life, he cultivated an interest in politics and befriended Robert Matwick, the democratic party committeeman for Norwood Park. Matwick was impressed with Gacy’s heart for volunteering, personality and determination, but once Gacy was accused of molesting a boy who helped him clean the democratic party headquarters, that all quickly changed. In 1976, three months after Carole left Gacy, he took his first victim, Billy Carroll, Jr. He went on to take 32 more lives, all young boys or men, whom he tricked into coming home with him. After murdering them, Gacy disposed of the bodies under his house, sprinkling them with lime to speed up the process of decomposition. The rancid odor of death began to seep into the house.
As more and more young men in the area who were associated with Gacy began to disappear, the police began to quietly monitor his comings and goings. The fist time they obtained a search warrant and inspected under his home, no disturbance of the ground under his house could be detected, but later at another search warrant, they saw the evidence that they needed to connect Gacy and the missing victims. They found the remains of a body. When the medical examiner arrived to examine the remains, the suspicious odor in the house told him what he needed to know before any facts were revealed: death in the house.
On December 22, 1978, Gacy admitted to killing more than 30 males and burying most of them under his house. He also said that after setting his victims up, he lured them into being handcuffed and stuffed a sock or underwear into their mouths to muffle their screams. He then killed them by putting a rope or a board against their throats while he brutally raped them. Sometimes he kept the dead bodies under his bed or in the attic for hours before burying them.
After only two hours of deliberation, Gacy was found guilty on 33 counts of murder and was executed in May of 1994 by lethal injection at the age of 52. There was a complication during the execution when the IV clogged, but ultimately, the job was done. His final words? “Kiss my ass.”
As a footnote, my mother worked as a cosmetician at Glen Ellyn Rexall Drugs on Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn, Illinois for many years, including the 1970’s. She told me that a man named John Gacy was remodeling the drugstore, and that he was very nice, even charming. He invited her out to dinner several times, but being a married woman, she graciously declined. Most likely he was just lonely and in need of some companionship. Only much later did she learn that she might have eaten dinner with the man known as the “Killer Clown.”
Currently, “The Gacy Play” is playing at the Sideshow Theater in Chicago. This morning I spoke on the air with WGN radio and told my mother’s story to the director and cast of the play, who were guests promoting their play. We discussed how personable and charming he appeared to be while secretly murdering his victims without remorse, a true sociopath.
Now, an additional footnote. I was contacted this morning by Alison True with Norwester Productions. She had read my hub and was actively involve in putting pressure on authorities to investigate the possibility of additional undiscovered bodies still buried on the northwest side of Chicago, and asked me to do what I can to spotlight this situation to give closure to the families. Please visit this site. Here’s the link: http://johnwaynegacynews.com/