Killer Clown: John Wayne Gacy

**WARNING** This post contains extremely graphic content. Reader/viewer discretion is advised. Please to not read if you are easily triggered by murder, sexual occurrences, or graphic photos.  

In the midst of the crazy clown sightings throughout North America, I thought this would be an appropriate time to discuss one of the most disturbing serial killers I’ve personally ever heard of. I was born just months before his execution and it still sends chills down my spine knowing that I was alive at the same time as this man. 

Regardless, I present to you, the killer clown of Chicago… John Wayne Gacy.

John Wayne Gacy was a U.S. serial killer who was found guilty of the murder of 33 boys and men in the Chicago area. Born on March 17, 1942, Gacy was the victim of an abusive childhood, which many speculate caused his diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder, and, in turn, caused him to become a killer. Despite the fact that he is most well known as a prolific serial killer, his first arrest was actually for sodomy and sexual assault.

John Wayne Gacy was a well liked man in his neighbourhood of Norwood Park, Illinois, where he lived with his wife and two children at 8213 Summerdale. Throughout the 1960s he worked as a manager of a local fast food restaurant before switching careers in the early 70s to work as a Democratic precinct captain. On the side, he performed at the birthday parties of the local children dressed as “Pogo the Clown“, a moniker he created on his own when he first decided to dress as a clown with the simple goal of amusing children.

Courtesy of Google

In 1968, Gacy was arrested after being accused of sexually assaulting two teenage boys. He was found guilty, with the final charge being “sodomy“, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. During his time behind bars, he was considered to be a model inmate; doing just as he was told and staying out of trouble. He was released on parole just 18 months after entering the prison. Throughout the following years, he would be involved in numerous cases of battery and sexual assault, all of which would be dismissed for various reasons. After the first charge in 1968, Gacy’s first wife filed for divorce and after she was granted custody of their children, he never saw them again.

Over the next 8 years, besides the few dismissed cases, Gacy seemed to live a quiet life with a new wife and a few step-children. It wasn’t until 1978 that everyone found out that the facade was anything but the truth. On December 22, 1978, following the investigations of multiple missing teenage boys, Gacy entered the Chicago Police Department and confessed that since the year of 1972, he had raped and killed between 25 to 30 young men. Initially he was helpful in the investigation, but later denied ever killing a single person throughout the course of his life. The investigation lead police to one of the most horrific scenes in all of U.S. murder history.

Beneath Gacy’s family home at 8213 Summerdale, was a small crawlspace. Below the dirt in this crawlspace were the bodies of 26 boys between the ages of 14 and 18. All but one had been killed by strangulation. Upon further investigation, the police found three additional bodies buried in the family’s back yard and later, they uncovered four more victims in the nearby Des Plaines River. That made a total of 33 bodies. All young men who died at the hands of a monster.

Courtesy of

During the investigation into the murders, Gacy admitted that the first murder was completely unplanned. In 1972, Gacy lured Timothy McCoy, a 15-year-old traveller, into his car at the Chicago Greyhound Bus Station. He brought McCoy home and forced him into sexual intercourse and other sexual acts. The struggle began when McCoy started towards Gacy with a large kitchen knife after the fact. McCoy successfully injured Gacy, creating a large cut on his forearm, but eventually he was overpowered by Gacy’s large size and was stabbed repeatedly while Gacy straddled him on the floor. In a later interview, Gacy would admit that this was the first time that he realized the kill was better than the sex and that he actually experienced an orgasm while killing the young man.

Despite the satisfaction that he got out of this first incident, it is believed that Gacy did not kill again until 1974, when he strangled an unidentified boy to death. This is where Gacy began his ritual of strangling each victim to death, rather than stabbing like he did to Timothy McCoy.

In 1980, he was found guilty of 12 counts of murder and was sentenced to life in prison followed by a death sentence. He would spend 14 years on death row before his execution on May 10, 1994. During his time on death row, he showed no remorse for his crimes and actually began painting as a way to pass the time. Many of these paintings were sold after his death, with his most popular being a self portrait of him as Pogo the Clown (pictured below). It was discovered during his time there that he committed the murders of more than half of his victims, while dressed as his side-show self.

Courtesy of

His story went on to inspire numerous short stories and television shows including the character of Twisty the Clown on American Horror Story: Freak Show and an appearance by “John Wayne Gacy” during an episode of American Horror Story: Hotel.

If you would like to learn more about the case of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, I have linked two videos here and here. Both are by fantastic YouTubers who I personally follow and they will give you an even deeper insight into this twisted clown’s mind. 

I really do hope you’re not afraid of clowns.

Until next time, keep it spooky!


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