25 Photos of the Investigation Into the Killer Clown, John Wayne Gacy

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John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer and rapist. He sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered at least 33 teenaged boys and young men between 1972-1978 in Cook County, Illinois. Gacy would lure his victims to his home in Norwood Park with force or deception, and murder them by asphyxiation with a makeshift tourniquet. Gacy buried 26 of his victims in the crawl space of his house, three others elsewhere on his property, and five more in the Des Plaines River.

Gacy became known as the “Killer Clown” because of his charitable services at fundraising events, parades, and children’s parties where he would dress as Pogo the Clown, a character he had devised.  After Gacy started his own construction business, PDM Contractors, he became an active community member in Norwood Park and hosted annual summer parties beginning in 1974. Gacy also played an active role in with the Democratic Party, offering initially offering the labor services of his PDM employees free of charge.  Gacy is known to have performed as Pogo or Patches at numerous local parties, Democratic party functions, charitable events, and at children’s hospitals.

After Gacy’s divorce in 1976, Gacy was free to commit the majority of his murders in what he referred to as his “cruising years.” On December 11, 1979, Gacy visited a Des Plaines pharmacy to discuss a potential remodeling job with the owner of the store. While Gacy was within earshot of a 15-year-old part-time employee Robert Jerome Piest, he mentioned that his firm hires teenagers at a salary of $5 per hour, double what Piest earned at the pharmacy.

After Gacy left the store, Piest told his mother that he wanted to go talk to him about a job. Piest never returned. His family filed a missing person report. The police contacted Gacy, who denied ever speaking to the boy and offered to come down to the station later that day. At 3:20 a.m., Gacy, covered in mud, arrived at the police station, claiming he had been involved in a car accident.

The police were convinced that Gacy was responsible for Piest’s disappearance. They checked Gacy’s record and found that he had an outstanding battery charge against him in Chicago and had served a prison sentence in Iowa for the sodomy of a 15-year-old boy. A search warrant of Gacy’s house was ordered on December 13. Police found a 1975 high school senior class ring, several drivers’ licenses, handcuffs, books on homosexuality and pederasty, a syringe, male clothing too small for Gacy, a pistol.

On the evening of December 20, Gacy drove to his lawyers’ office in Park Ridge to attend a meeting they scheduled to discuss an ongoing civil suit they had filed against the police department. At this meeting, Gacy admitted to what he had done, admitting he had “been the judge … jury and executioner of many, many people”. On December 22, 1978, after being informed that police had found human remains in his crawl space and he would be facing murder charges, Gacy admitted to killing approximately 25-30 teenaged boys.

On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed. For his last meal, Gacy ordered a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, a dozen fried shrimp, French fries, fresh strawberries, and a Diet Coke.

Gacy with First Lady Rosalynn Carter in 1978, six years after the killings began. A pin indicating special Secret Service clearance is visible on his jacket. Wikipedia
The basement where Gacy buried the bodies. Gacy’s defense team attempted to raise the possibility that all 33 murders were accidental erotic asphyxia deaths. journal-today
Lifelong Des Plaines resident Augie Schwiesow, who worked for the police department at the time, took dozens of photos of the crime scene. journal-topics
Investigators tore apart the floorboards to uncover the bodies. journal-topics
In late December 1978, Des Plainesites and the world awoke to the horrible news that bodies were found in the crawlspace of Norwood Park resident John Wayne Gacy. journal-topics
Gacy stated he had lost count of the number of victims buried in his crawl space and had initially considered stowing bodies in his attic before opting to dispose of them off the I-55 bridge into the Des Plaines River. journal-topic
Gacy returned to his house on December 22 and showed police the location in his garage where he had buried the bodies. The police then drove to the spot on the I-55 bridge from which he had thrown the body of the five victims. journal-topics
Gacy told his lawyer that he had been the judge … jury and executioner of many, many people. journal-topics
The final count of bodies pulled from under Gacy’s small house was more than 30. The Des Plaines Police Dept. was credited with solving the mass murder case after Maine West High School sophomore Rob Piest was reported missing. journal-topics
To assist officers in their search for the victims buried in his house, Gacy drew a diagram of his basement to show where the bodies were buried. journal-topic
Between December 22 and December 29, 1978, 27 bodies were recovered from Gacy’s property, 26 of which were found buried in his crawl space, with one additional victim, being found buried beneath the concrete floor of his garage. journal-topics.
All the victims discovered at 8213 Summerdale were in an advanced state of decomposition, and the medical examiner chiefly relied upon dental records to facilitate the identification of the remains. journal-topic
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