John Wayne Gacy (Criminal) – Overview, Biography

John Wayne Gacy
Name:John Wayne Gacy
Occupation: Criminal
Birth Day: March 17,
Death Date:May 10, 1994 (age 52)
Age: Aged 52
Country: United States
Zodiac Sign:Pisces

John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy was born on March 17, 1942 in United States (52 years old). John Wayne Gacy is a Criminal, zodiac sign: Pisces. Nationality: United States. Approx. Net Worth: Undisclosed.

Brief Info

Infamous Illinois serial killer who was convicted of 33 murders.


John Wayne Gacy was given the nickname ‘Killer Clown,’ because he performed as a clown at children’s events.

Net Worth 2020

Find out more about John Wayne Gacy net worth here.

Does John Wayne Gacy Dead or Alive?

As per our current Database, John Wayne Gacy died on May 10, 1994 (age 52).


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Before Fame

John Wayne Gacy worked as a mortuary attendant after abandoning a political career.


Biography Timeline


John Wayne Gacy was born in Chicago on March 17, 1942, the second child and only son of John Stanley Gacy (June 20, 1900 – December 25, 1969) and Marion Elaine Robison (May 4, 1908 – December 6, 1989). His father was an auto repair machinist and World War I veteran, and his mother was a homemaker. Gacy was of Polish and Danish ancestry, and his family was Catholic. His paternal grandparents (who spelled the family name as “Gatza” or “Gaca”) had immigrated to the United States from Poland (then part of Prussia in Germany).


In 1949, Gacy’s father was informed his son and another boy had been caught sexually fondling a young girl. His father whipped him with a razor strop as punishment. The same year, a family friend and contractor would sometimes molest Gacy in his truck. Gacy never told his father about this, afraid that his father would blame him.


Gacy was an overweight and unathletic child. Because of a heart condition, he was told to avoid all sports at school. During the fourth grade, Gacy began to experience blackouts. He was hospitalized on occasion because of the seizures, and in 1957 for a burst appendix. Gacy later estimated that between the ages of 14 and 18, he had spent almost a year in hospital, and attributed the decline of his grades to missing school. His father suspected these episodes were an effort to gain sympathy and attention, and openly accused his son of faking the condition as the boy lay in a hospital bed. Although his mother, sisters, and few close friends never doubted his illness, Gacy’s medical condition was never conclusively diagnosed.

One of Gacy’s friends at high school recalled several instances when his father ridiculed or beat his son without provocation. Once in 1957, he witnessed Gacy’s father shouting at his son for no reason, then begin hitting him. Gacy’s mother attempted to intervene. The friend recalled that Gacy simply “put up his hands to defend himself”, adding that he never struck his father back during these altercations.


In 1960, at 18, Gacy became involved in politics, working as an assistant precinct captain for a Democratic Party candidate in his neighborhood. This led to more criticism from his father, who accused his son of being a “patsy”. Gacy later speculated it was to seek the acceptance from others that he never received from his father.


The same year Gacy’s political involvement began, his father bought him a car. He kept the vehicle’s title in his own name until Gacy had finished paying for it. These monthly payments took several years for him to complete. His father would confiscate the keys to the vehicle if Gacy did not do as he said. In 1962, Gacy purchased an extra set of keys after his father confiscated the original set. In response, his father removed the distributor cap, keeping the component for three days. Gacy recalled he felt “totally sick” and “drained” after this incident.


On returning home, Gacy enrolled at Northwestern Business College, despite failing to graduate from high school. He graduated in 1963 and took a management trainee position with the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company. In 1964, the shoe company transferred him to Springfield, Illinois, to work as a salesman, and eventually promoted him to manager of his department. In March of that year, he became engaged to Marlynn Myers, a co-worker.


During their courtship, Gacy joined the local Jaycees and worked tirelessly for them, named Key Man in April 1964. That same year, he had his second homosexual experience. According to Gacy, after one of his colleagues in the Springfield Jaycees plied him with drinks and invited him to spend the evening on his sofa, he agreed; the colleague then performed oral sex on him while he was drunk. By 1965, Gacy had risen to the position of vice-president of the Springfield Jaycees. The same year, he was named the third most outstanding Jaycee in the State of Illinois.

After a six-month courtship, Gacy and Myers married in September 1964. Marlynn’s father subsequently purchased three Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurants in Waterloo, Iowa, and the couple moved there so he could manage the restaurants, with the understanding that they would move into Marlynn’s parents’ home—vacated for the couple. The offer was lucrative: Gacy would receive $15,000 per year (the equivalent of $115,513 as of 2020), plus a share of the restaurant’s profits.


Gacy’s wife gave birth to a son in February 1966 and a daughter in March 1967. Gacy himself later described this period of his life as “perfect”—he had finally earned his father’s approval. When Gacy’s parents visited in July 1966, his father apologized for the abuse and said: “Son, I was wrong about you.”


In Waterloo, Gacy joined the local Jaycees chapter, regularly offering extended hours to the organization in addition to the 12- and 14-hour days he worked managing three KFCs. At meetings, Gacy often provided fried chicken and insisted on being called “Colonel”. Although considered ambitious and something of a braggart, the other Jaycees held him in high regard for his fund-raising work, and in 1967 named him “outstanding vice-president” of the Waterloo Jaycees. The same year, Gacy served on the Board of Directors. Gacy and other Waterloo Jaycees were also deeply involved in wife swapping, prostitution, pornography, and drug use.

In August 1967, Gacy sexually assaulted 15-year-old Donald Voorhees, the son of a fellow Jaycee. Gacy lured Voorhees to his house having promised to show him pornographic films. Gacy plied Voorhees with alcohol and persuaded him to perform oral sex. Over the following months Gacy similarly abused several other youths, including one whom Gacy encouraged to have sex with his own wife before blackmailing him into performing oral sex on him. Gacy tricked several teenagers into believing he was commissioned to conduct homosexual experiments in the interests of “scientific research”, and paid them up to $50 each.

On February 29, Donald Voorhees, whom Gacy sexually assaulted in 1967, testified to his ordeal at Gacy’s hands and his subsequent attempts to dissuade him from testifying by paying another youth to spray Mace in his face and beat him. Voorhees felt unable to testify but did briefly attempt to do so before being asked to step down.


In March 1968, Voorhees reported to his father that Gacy had sexually assaulted him. Voorhees Sr. immediately informed the police who arrested Gacy and subsequently charged him with performing oral sodomy on Voorhees and the attempted assault of 16-year-old Edward Lynch. Gacy vehemently denied the charges and demanded to take a polygraph test. The results indicated Gacy was nervous when he denied any wrongdoing in relation to both young men.

Gacy publicly denied any wrongdoing and insisted the charges against him were politically motivated—Voorhees Sr. had opposed Gacy’s nomination for appointment as president of the Iowa Jaycees. Several fellow Jaycees found Gacy’s story credible and rallied to his support. However, on May 10, 1968, Gacy was indicted on the sodomy charge.

On August 30, 1968, Gacy persuaded one of his employees, 18-year-old Russell Schroeder, to physically assault Voorhees in an effort to discourage the boy from testifying. Gacy promised to pay Schroeder $300. Schroeder agreed, and in early September lured Voorhees to an isolated country park, sprayed Mace in his eyes, then beat him.

On November 7, 1968, Gacy pleaded guilty to one count of sodomy in relation to Voorhees, but not guilty to the charges related to other youths. Gacy claimed Voorhees had offered himself to him and that he had acted out of curiosity. His story was not believed. Gacy was convicted of sodomy on December 3 and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, to be served at the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

On the morning of March 12, William Kunkle continued to argue for the prosecution. Kunkle referred to the defense’s contention of insanity as “a sham”, arguing that the facts of the case demonstrated Gacy’s ability to think logically and control his actions. Kunkle also referred to the testimony of one of the doctors who had examined Gacy in 1968 and had concluded he was an antisocial personality, capable of committing crimes without remorse and unlikely to benefit from social or psychiatric treatment, stating that had the recommendations of this doctor been heeded, Gacy would have not been freed.


That same day, his wife petitioned for divorce, requesting she be awarded the couple’s home and property, sole custody of their two children, and alimony. The Court ruled in her favor, and the divorce was finalized on September 18, 1969. Gacy never saw his first wife or children again.

In June 1969, Gacy was denied parole. To prepare for a second scheduled parole hearing in May 1970, Gacy completed 16 high school courses, for which he obtained his diploma in November 1969.

On Christmas Day 1969, Gacy’s father died from cirrhosis of the liver. When told the news, Gacy collapsed to the floor sobbing. His request for supervised compassionate leave to attend the funeral was denied.


Gacy was granted parole with 12 months’ probation on June 18, 1970, after having served 18 months of his 10-year sentence. Conditions of his probation included that Gacy relocate to Chicago to live with his mother, and that he must observe a 10:00 p.m. curfew.


On February 12, 1971, Gacy was charged with sexually assaulting a teenage boy who claimed that he had lured him into his car at Chicago’s Greyhound bus terminal and driven him to his home, where he had attempted to force the boy into sex. The court dismissed this complaint when the boy failed to appear.

The Iowa Board of Parole did not learn of these incidents and eight months later, in October 1971, Gacy’s parole ended. The following month, records of Gacy’s previous criminal convictions were sealed.

In August 1971, shortly after Gacy and his mother moved into the house, he became engaged to Carole Hoff, a divorcee with two young daughters. They were married on July 1, 1972.. His fiancée and stepdaughters moved into his home soon after the couple announced their engagement. Gacy’s mother moved out of the house shortly before the wedding.

In 1971, Gacy established a part-time construction business, PDM Contractors (PDM being the initials for ‘Painting, Decorating, and Maintenance’). With the approval of his probation officer, he worked evenings on his construction contracts while working as a cook during the day. Initially, Gacy undertook minor repair work, such as sign-writing, pouring concrete and redecorating, but he later expanded to include projects such as interior design, remodeling, installation, assembly and landscaping. In mid-1973, Gacy quit his job as a cook so he could commit fully to his construction business.


Gacy’s first known murder occurred on January 2, 1972. According to Gacy’s later account, following a family party he decided to drive to the Civic Center in the Loop to view a display of ice sculptures before luring a 16-year-old named Timothy Jack McCoy from Chicago’s Greyhound Bus Terminal into his car. McCoy was traveling from Michigan to Omaha, Nebraska. Gacy took McCoy on a sightseeing tour of Chicago and then drove him to his home with the promise that he could spend the night and be driven back to the station in time to catch his bus. Prior to McCoy’s identification, he was known simply as the “Greyhound Bus Boy”.


In 1973, Gacy and a teenage employee traveled to Florida to view property Gacy had purchased. On the first night in Florida, Gacy raped him in their hotel room. After returning to Chicago, he drove to Gacy’s house and beat him in his yard. Gacy told his wife he had been attacked for refusing to pay him for poor quality work.


By 1975, Gacy had told his wife that he was bisexual. After the couple had sex on Mother’s Day that year, he informed her this would be “the last time” they would ever have sex. He began spending most evenings away from home only to return in the early hours of the morning with the excuse he had been working late. His wife observed Gacy bring teenage boys into his garage and found gay pornography and men’s wallets and identification inside the house. When she confronted Gacy about who these items belonged to, he informed her angrily that it was none of her business.

Following a heated argument when she failed to balance a checkbook correctly in October 1975, Carole Gacy asked her husband for a divorce. Gacy agreed to his wife’s request although, by mutual consent, Carole continued to live at 8213 West Summerdale until February 1976, when she and her daughters moved into their own apartment. One month later, on March 2, the Gacys’ divorce—decreed upon the false grounds of Gacy’s infidelity with women—was finalized.

By 1975, PDM was expanding rapidly, and Gacy was working up to 16 hours per day. In March 1977, he became a supervisor for PE Systems, a firm specializing in the remodeling of drugstores. Between PE Systems and PDM, Gacy worked on up to four projects simultaneously and frequently traveled to other states. By 1978, PDM’s annual revenue was over $200,000.

Through his membership in a local Moose Club, Gacy became aware of a “Jolly Joker” clown club, whose members regularly performed at fundraising events and parades in addition to voluntarily entertaining hospitalized children. In late 1975, Gacy joined and created his own clown characters: “Pogo the Clown” and “Patches the Clown”. He described Pogo as a “happy clown”, whereas Patches was a “more serious” character.

In May 1975, Gacy hired 15-year-old Anthony Antonucci. In July 1975, Gacy went to Antonucci’s home. The two drank a bottle of wine, then watched a heterosexual stag film before Gacy wrestled Antonucci to the floor and cuffed his hands behind his back. One cuff was loose and Antonucci freed his arm while Gacy was out of the room. When Gacy returned, Antonucci—a high school wrestler—pounced upon him. He wrestled Gacy to the floor, obtained possession of the handcuff key, and cuffed Gacy’s hands behind his back. At first, Gacy threatened Antonucci, then calmed down and promised to leave if he would remove the handcuffs. Antonucci agreed and Gacy left. Antonucci later recalled that Gacy told him: “Not only are you the only one who got out of the cuffs, you got them on me.”

In 1975, Gacy was appointed director of Chicago’s annual Polish Constitution Day Parade—he supervised the annual event from 1975 until 1978. Through his work with the parade, Gacy met and was photographed with First Lady Rosalynn Carter on May 6, 1978. The event later became an embarrassment to the United States Secret Service. In the pictures, Gacy is wearing an “S” pin, indicating a person given special clearance.

On July 31, 1975, another of Gacy’s employees, an 18-year-old from Lombard, John Butkovich, disappeared. Butkovich’s car was found parked near the corner of Sheridan and Lawrence with his jacket and wallet inside and the keys still in the ignition.

Gacy’s likely second murder victim, Body 28, had brown hair, stood approximately 5 ft 9 in (180 cm) in height, and is estimated to be aged between 14 and 18. He was buried near Gacy’s barbecue pit, possibly in 1975. He wore a silver ring on the fourth finger of his left hand, suggesting he may have been married.

Retired Chicago police officer Bill Dorsch stated he had reason to believe there may be more victims buried in the grounds of the apartment building located at the 6100 block of West Miami Avenue in Chicago—a property where Gacy is known to have been the caretaker for several years before his 1978 arrest. In 1975, Dorsch—then a Chicago police officer—observed Gacy (whom he knew on a casual basis), holding a shovel in the early hours of the morning. When Dorsch confronted him, Gacy said he was doing work that he was too busy to do during the day. Dorsch also said that several other residents of West Miami Avenue stated they had seen Gacy digging trenches in the grounds of the property in the early to mid-1970s; one of these residents also said that Gacy later placed plants in the elongated trenches he had dug. At the time these actions were observed, Gacy was still married to Carole Hoff.


On July 26, 1976, Gacy picked up 18-year-old David Cram as he hitchhiked on Elston Avenue. Gacy offered him a job with PDM, and he began work the same evening. On August 21, Cram moved into his house. The next day, he and Gacy had several drinks to celebrate his 19th birthday, with Gacy dressed as Pogo. Gacy conned Cram into donning handcuffs, in front of his body. Gacy swung Cram around while holding the chain linking the cuffs, then said he intended to rape him. Cram kicked Gacy in the face and freed himself from the handcuffs.

One month after his divorce was finalized, Gacy abducted and murdered 18-year-old Darrell Samson. He was last seen alive in Chicago on April 6, 1976. Gacy buried him under the dining room, with a section of cloth lodged in his throat. Five weeks later, on the afternoon of May 14, 15-year-old Randall Reffett disappeared while walking home from Senn High School. Hours after Gacy abducted Reffett, 14-year-old Samuel Stapleton vanished as he walked home from his sister’s apartment. They were buried together in the crawl space, and investigators believe both victims were murdered the same evening.

In December 1976, another PDM employee, 17-year-old Gregory Godzik, disappeared. His girlfriend last saw him outside her house after he had driven her home following a date. Godzik had worked for PDM for only three weeks before he disappeared. He had informed his family that Gacy had had him “dig trenches for some kind of (drain) tiles” in his crawl space. Godzik’s car was later found abandoned in Niles. His parents and older sister, Eugenia, contacted Gacy about Godzik’s disappearance. Gacy claimed that he had run away from home, having indicated before that he wished to do so. Gacy also claimed to have received an answering machine message from Godzik shortly after he had disappeared. When asked if he could play back the message to Godzik’s parents, Gacy said he had erased it.

Between December 1976 and March 1977, it is known Gacy killed an unidentified adult male. He buried him in the crawl space beneath the body of a 20-year-old Michigan native named Jon Prestidge, who had disappeared on March 15. Shortly before his disappearance, Prestidge had mentioned he had obtained work with a local contractor.

Cram informed investigators of Gacy’s attempts to rape him in 1976. He stated that after he and Gacy had returned to his home after the December 13 search of his property, Gacy had turned pale after seeing a clot of mud on his carpet which he suspected had come from his crawl space. Cram said Gacy had grabbed a flashlight and immediately entered the crawl space to look for evidence of digging. When asked whether he had been to the crawl space, Cram replied he had once been asked by Gacy to spread lime down there and had also dug trenches, which Gacy had explained were for drainage pipes. Cram stated these trenches were 2 feet (0.61 m) wide, 6 feet (1.8 m) long and 2 feet (0.61 m) deep—the size of graves.

Body 21 is estimated to have been aged between 15 and 24 years old and approximately 5 ft 10 in (180 cm) in height. He had light brown hair. This victim was buried directly above the body of William Carroll, indicating his murder had occurred on or after June 13, 1976. It is theorized Cram may not have lived with Gacy at the time of this victim’s death, so a possible date for this murder is between August 6 and 20, 1976, although investigators have not discounted the possibility he may have been murdered later in 1976.

Body 10 is estimated to have been aged between 17 and 21 years old and between 5 ft 7 in and 5 ft 11 in (170 and 180 cm). He had suffered a fractured left collarbone months or years before his disappearance. The two victims murdered on the same day in May 1976 were buried alongside him, yet sequential burial patterns of three victims murdered in 1977 leave an equal possibility he may have been murdered in the spring or summer of 1977. Statements made by Gacy following his arrest also suggest this unidentified victim may have been murdered as early as 1974. In 2018, an updated facial reconstruction was released to the media.

In addition, the dental X-ray conducted on the victim identified as Michael Marino had revealed they had all of their second molars; a dental X-ray conducted on Marino in March 1976 revealed one molar had not erupted. The original identification of the body identified as Michael Marino has been disputed because the exhumed body had neither an upper nor lower jaw bone. Nonetheless, the orthodontist who had identified Marino’s remains has stated his conviction in the accuracy of his findings, adding he had “compared 32 teeth, probably half a dozen of them had very distinct fillings and every one of them was consistent with Michael Marino”.


On January 20, 1977, Gacy lured 19-year-old John Szyc to his house on the pretext of buying his Plymouth Satellite. He later confessed to strangling Szyc in his spare bedroom, claiming Rossi was asleep in the house the following morning. Gacy later sold the car to Rossi for $300.

Robert Donnelly testified the week after Voorhees, recounting his ordeal at Gacy’s hands in December 1977. Donnelly was visibly distressed as he recalled the abuse he endured and came close to breaking down several times. As Donnelly testified, Gacy repeatedly laughed at him, but Donnelly finished his testimony. During Donnelly’s cross-examination, one of Gacy’s defense attorneys, Robert Motta, attempted to discredit his testimony, but Donnelly did not waver from his testimony of what had occurred.

In the sentencing phase of the trial, the jury deliberated for more than two hours before sentencing Gacy to death for each murder committed after the Illinois statute on capital punishment came into effect in June 1977. His execution was set for June 2, 1980.

Body 13 was a man likely to have been murdered between August and October 1976. He was between 5 ft 9 in and 6 ft 2 in (180 and 190 cm) in height. He had long, dark brown, wavy hair and was between 17 and 22 years old. This victim is known to have suffered from an abscessed tooth, and may have injured his left third rib months or years before his disappearance. While Rossi also claimed to dig this grave in 1977, Cram claimed that during his time living at 8213 W. Summerdale, Gacy had him dig a trench in the southwest corner of the crawl space where this victim was recovered. In 2018, an updated facial reconstruction was released to the media.


With financial assistance from his mother, Gacy bought a ranch house near the village of Norridge in Norwood Park Township, an unincorporated area of Cook County, a part of metropolitan Chicago. The address, 8213 West Summerdale Avenue, is where he resided until his arrest in December 1978 and where, according to Gacy, he committed all his murders.

Donnelly reported the assault, and police questioned Gacy on January 6, 1978. Gacy admitted to having had a “slave-sex” relationship with Donnelly, but insisted everything was consensual, adding that he “didn’t pay the kid” the money he had promised him. The police believed him and filed no charges. The following month, Gacy killed 19-year-old William Kindred, who disappeared on February 16 after telling his fiancée, who knew Gacy, that he was to spend the evening in a bar. Kindred was the final victim Gacy buried in his crawl space.

By 1978, the crawl space had no room for further bodies. Gacy later confessed to police that he considered stowing bodies in his attic initially, but had been worried about complications arising from “leakage”. Therefore, he chose to dispose of his victims off the I-55 bridge into the Des Plaines River. Gacy stated he had thrown five bodies into a river in 1978. He believed one had landed on a passing barge; only four bodies were ever found.

Jeffrey Rignall testified on behalf of the defense on February 21. Recounting his ordeal, Rignall wept repeatedly while describing Gacy’s torture of him in March 1978. Asked whether Gacy appreciated the criminality of his actions, Rignall said he believed that Gacy was unable to conform his actions to the law’s expectations because of the “beastly and animalistic ways he attacked me”. During specific cross-examination relating to the torture, Rignall vomited and was excused from further testimony.

After his incarceration, Gacy read numerous law books and filed voluminous motions and appeals, although he did not prevail in any of them. His appeals related to issues such as the validity of the first search warrant granted to the Des Plaines police on December 13, 1978, and his objection to his lawyers’ insanity plea defense at his trial. Gacy also contended that, although he had “some knowledge” of five of the murders (those of McCoy, Butkovich, Godzik, Szyc and Piest), the other 28 murders had been committed by employees who had keys to his house while he was away on business trips.

The first victims to be identified were John Butkovich (Body 2), John Szyc (Body 3), and Gregory Godzik (Body 4). Dental records confirmed their identities on December 29, 1978. The thirty-third victim linked to Gacy, James Mazzara, was identified the following day. The twenty-third victim exhumed from Gacy’s property was identified as Rick Johnston on January 1, 1979.

At the time of Gacy’s arrest, he had claimed to both Des Plaines and Chicago investigators that the total number of murder victims could be as high as 45. However, only 33 victims were ever linked to Gacy. Investigators excavated the grounds of his property until they had exposed the substratum of clay beneath the foundations, finding 29 bodies. Gacy said that after he had assaulted and then released Jeffrey Rignall in March 1978, he began to throw his murder victims into the Des Plaines River. He confessed to having disposed of five bodies in this manner; however, only four bodies recovered from the Des Plaines River were linked to him. When asked whether there were more victims, Gacy stated, “That’s for you guys to find out.”

On May 23, 1978, 25-year-old Charles Hattula was found drowned in the Pecatonica River near Freeport, Illinois. He had been missing since May 13. He was an employee of PDM and had been linked to the initial investigation of Gacy after Michael Rossi informed investigators of both Godzik’s disappearance and Hattula’s death. Moreover, Rossi had stated that Hattula was known to have conflicts with Gacy, and when he had “failed to show up at work”, Gacy had informed him and several other employees that he had drowned. At the time of Hattula’s death, no more bodies could be stored in Gacy’s crawl space, which leaves a possibility he had disposed of Hattula’s body in the Pecatonica River. However, Des Plaines authorities had contacted Freeport during their investigation into Gacy, and were told Hattula had fallen to his death from a bridge. Hattula’s death has been officially ruled as asphyxia by drowning.

Jeffrey Rignall, who had been assaulted and tortured by Gacy in March 1978, was adamant that at one point during his abuse and torture, a young man with brown hair had knelt before him and watched his abuse. Rignall also said that he saw a light come on in another part of the house.


In the early morning hours of December 22, and in the presence of his lawyers, Gacy provided a formal statement in which he confessed to murdering approximately 30 young males—all of whom he claimed had entered his house willingly. Some victims were referred to by name, but Gacy claimed not to know or remember most of the names. He claimed all were teenage male runaways or male prostitutes, the majority of whom he had buried in his crawl space. Gacy claimed to have only dug five of the victims’ graves in this location and had his employees (including Gregory Godzik) dig the remaining trenches so that he would “have graves available”. One victim hailed from Round Lake; another had been a Michigan native. When shown a driver’s license issued to a Robert Hasten which had been found on his property, Gacy claimed not to know him but admitted this license had been in the possession of one of his victims. In January 1979, he had planned to conceal the corpses even further by covering the entire crawl space with concrete.

Stein concluded 12 victims recovered from Gacy’s property died not of strangulation, but of asphyxiation. Gacy’s vacant house was demolished in April 1979.

The victim found 6 miles (9.7 km) downstream from the I-55 bridge on June 30 was not connected initially to Gacy. In January 1979, this victim was identified using fingerprint records and a distinctive tattoo on his left biceps reading “Tim Lee” (an homage to Bruce Lee) as Timothy O’Rourke. An autopsy was unable to rule out strangulation as the cause of death. This victim was numbered 31. Following Gacy’s arrest, investigators discovered he was a further victim.

On April 9, 1979, a decomposed body was discovered entangled in exposed roots on the edge of the Des Plaines River in Grundy County. The body was identified using dental records as being that of Robert Piest. A subsequent autopsy revealed that three wads of “paper-like material” had been shoved down his throat while he was still alive, causing him to suffocate.

Using dental records, the sixth victim exhumed from Gacy’s property was identified on November 14, 1979, as Samuel Stapleton. On November 16, Body 17 was identified as David Talsma using radiology images of a healed fracture of the left scapula. Two days later, the final victim recovered from Gacy’s property, Body 29, was identified as Darrell Samson.


Gacy was brought to trial on February 6, 1980, charged with 33 murders. He was tried in Cook County, Illinois, before Judge Louis Garippo; the jury was selected from Rockford, because of significant press coverage in Cook County.

In March 1980, Bodies 14 and 15 were identified using dental records and radiology images as those of Michael Marino and Kenneth Parker. Their identities were confirmed too late to include among the victims identified before Gacy’s trial.

Disputed DNA and dental tests conducted between 2012 and 2016 indicate that neither body found in the common grave in Gacy’s crawl space and identified as those of Kenneth Parker and Michael Marino in 1980 was actually Marino. Marino’s mother had always doubted her son ‘s identification because the clothing found on Body 14 was inconsistent with what he had worn when she last saw him. DNA testing conducted upon the exhumed body of Parker has proven that Marino’s body had not been mistaken for his.


On February 15, 1983, Henry Brisbon, a fellow death row inmate known as the I-57 killer, stabbed Gacy in the upper arm with a sharpened wire as Gacy was participating in a voluntary work program. A second death row inmate injured in the attack, William Jones, received a superficial stab wound to the head. Both received treatment in the prison hospital for their wounds.


In 1984, Sam Amirante, one of Gacy’s two defense attorneys at his 1980 trial, authored procedures that were incorporated by the Illinois General Assembly into the Missing Child Recovery Act of 1984. Amirante has since said the primary inspiration for this legislation was that at the time of the Gacy murders, Illinois police had to wait 72 hours before initiating a search for a missing child or adolescent.


In mid-1984, the Supreme Court of Illinois upheld Gacy’s conviction and ordered his execution by lethal injection on November 14. Gacy filed an appeal against this decision, which was denied by the Supreme Court of the United States on March 4, 1985. The following year, Gacy filed a further post-conviction petition, seeking a new trial. His then-defense lawyer, Richard Kling, argued that Gacy had been provided with ineffective legal counsel at his 1980 trial. This post-conviction petition was dismissed on September 11, 1986.


In May 1986, the ninth victim exhumed from Gacy’s property was identified as Timothy Jack McCoy, Gacy’s first victim. Dental records and a distinctive belt buckle assisted with his identification.


Gacy appealed the 1985 decision that he be executed. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld his conviction on September 29, 1988, setting a new execution date of January 11, 1989.


After the U.S. Supreme Court denied Gacy’s final appeal in October 1993, the Illinois Supreme Court formally set an execution date for May 10, 1994.


After Gacy’s death was confirmed at 12:58 a.m. on May 10, 1994, his brain was removed. It is in the possession of Helen Morrison, a witness for the defense at Gacy’s trial, who has interviewed Gacy and other serial killers in an attempt to isolate common personality traits of violent sociopaths. His body was cremated.


In October 2011, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart announced that investigators, having obtained full DNA profiles from each of the unidentified victims, were to renew their efforts to identify them. At a press conference held to announce this, Sheriff Dart stated investigators are actively seeking DNA samples from individuals across the United States related to any male missing between 1970 and 1979.

Results of tests conducted thus far have confirmed the identification of two victims, ruled out the possibility of numerous other missing youths as being victims of Gacy, and solved four unrelated cold cases dating between 1972 and 1979. In November 2011, the victim previously known as Body 19 was identified through DNA testing as William Bundy. Shortly after Gacy’s arrest, Bundy’s family had contacted his dentist in the hope of submitting his dental records for comparison with the unidentified bodies, but the records had been destroyed after his dentist had retired. The most recent victim to be identified is 16-year-old James Haakenson, previously known as Body 24, who was identified in July 2017 using DNA testing.


In March 2012, Cook County Sheriff’s officials submitted a request to excavate the grounds of this property. The Cook County State’s Attorney denied the request, citing a lack of probable cause as the reason, including the results of a 1998 search of the property. However, the sheriff’s office noted that in 1998, a radar survey suggested 14 areas of interest within the property grounds, yet only two of these 14 anomalies had been excavated. Of the 12 remaining anomalies, four were described as being “staggeringly suggestive” of human skeletons. Moreover, Bill Dorsch had provided police with a letter from the radar company which confirmed the 1998 search of the grounds was incomplete.

A second request to excavate the grounds of West Miami Avenue was submitted to the Cook County State’s Attorney by Sheriff Tom Dart in October 2012. This request was granted in January 2013, and a search of the property was conducted in the spring. Both FBI sniffer dogs and ground-penetrating radar equipment were used in the second search of West Miami Avenue; however, the search yielded no human remains.

Gacy claimed that he was not in Chicago when 16 of the identified victims had disappeared. In 2012, two Chicago lawyers said travel records show that Gacy had been in another state at the time of three of the murders, implying he was assisted by one or more accomplices. For example, Gacy had flown to Pittsburgh three days before the disappearance of Robert Gilroy, and only returned to Chicago the day after he disappeared.

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