John Wayne Gacy

By Camille Germinal

Background and Early Life

  • Born on March 17, 1942, in Chicago, Illinois.

  • The son of Danish and Polish parents

  • Grew up with a drunken father who would beat the children with a razor strap if they were thought to have misbehaved; the man physically assaulted Gacy's mother as well he would not cry.

  • unable to play with other children due to a congenital heart condition

  • Gacy later realized he was attracted to men, and experienced great turmoil over his sexuality.

Who and How He Killed

  • Gacy worked as a fast-food chain manager during the 1960s and became a self-made building contractor

  • Well-liked in his community and a clown performer at children's parties.

  • He was married and divorced twice and had biological children and stepchildren.

  • He had committed his first known killing in 1972, taking the life of Timothy McCoy after luring the teen to his home.

  • Gacy lured his victims to his home with the promise of construction work, and then captured, sexually assaulted and eventually strangled most of them with rope. When he killed, he sometimes dressed as his alter ego "Pogo the Clown."

  • Gacy had told police that the murders had been committed by an alternate personality, while mental health professionals testified for both sides about Gacy's mental state.

  • Ultimately found guilty of committing 33 murders

  • He was sentenced to serve 12 death sentences and 21 natural life sentences.

  • Died by lethal injection on May 10, 1994, at the Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois.
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