''I May Be The 34th Victim....4 Other People Had Keys To My House.'' - John Wayne Gacy | Unanswered Questions, Possible Accomplices, 45 Facts & More | 1970s Serial Killers

(John Wayne Gacy: Picture credit: bbc)
I am always asked, which Serial killer have you found to be the most interesting to write about over the years and I will always respond with, John Wayne Gacy. I have touched on him briefly on my blog previously but as I was always aiming to steer away from the infamous cases which everyone more or less knows about, I didn't really spend a great deal of time talking about him. I finally decided to cover more of the infamous murderers due to demand from my amazing readers. 

John has always intrigued me and I don't wish that to sound fanatical, I mean from a psychological stand point. Here was a man who was a complete Jekyll and Hyde. He moved through life talking his way out of situations but also gaining a lot of success in business despite leaving school with no qualifications. He painted himself (quite literally as a clown, but more of that later in the post) as a family man, a respectable member of his local community with a keen interest in politics but behind the scenes he was a complete monster, a terrifying, sadistic and evil predator who ended up living in a house with the decomposing remains of his young 33 male victims. Just beneath his feet, John had created his own make-shift cemetery in his crawl space. 

I first learned of John Wayne Gacy when I was a child through watching the incredible performance of the late Brian Dennehy in his portrayal of Gacy, in the movie based on the case: To Catch A Killer. Brian's performance together with the whole feel of the film and the story, just sent chills down my spine and still does to this day. I couldn't believe that all of these horrible things had happened to these poor young boys and that a man like Gacy could exist. Over the years I continued to read various books about him and watched countless documentaries and the case never ceases to disturb and shock me. To think that there are still young men and boys who have never been identified and are only known as numbers. I can't imagine the heartbreaking and sickening hell that they all went through and as I watch Gacy's interviews it's hard to get my head around the fact that he did these evil things, he comes across as a bit of a joker. If you didn't know his background, you'd be forgiven for being fooled into thinking this was just an ordinary, talkative and quite engaging guy. The truth is, that when you know the horrendous details of what he has done and the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates his guilt, you realise that either the guy is mentally insane (which he quite obviously is because of the horrible crimes that he committed and what he had done with victims remains) or he's a conman just trying to talk his way out of another situation like he always has did.

(A scene from the movie based on the Gacy case: To Catch A Killer (1992)

John lived such a packed double life that it would take a few posts for me to get through every single thing so I have decided to break it down as much as I can into little bite-size chunks in this post. Some of the things that I mention, you will already be familiar with and some details will be fresh to your eyes but I do hope that you find the post interesting and I always welcome comments here or on my Socials. As a side note, please join me on Instagram: @TrueCrimeWithCK to keep up with all of my true crime posts. 

Before I begin I have to inform you (if you're already familiar with the John Wayne Gacy story you will be aware of some of the horrible details that I will be sharing) that I will be sharing some disturbing details. So with that being said, let's brace ourselves and delve into some information about John Wayne Gacy. 

1) John Wayne Gacy was born on the 17th of March 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. His father was originally from Poland and worked in a factory. His father was a heavy drinker and very abusive at times. He would often abuse his wife and children but John was always his main target. He was extremely close to his mother who was a pharmacist. John also had two sisters and was close to them too. 

2) Allegedly, in letters back and forth with a pen pal (Jason Moss, who I have also written about in another post to go alongside this one) he claimed that he would sexually abuse one of his sisters when he was a child. John also claimed to have experienced sexual abuse outside of the family home but was too frightened to tell his father about it because he believed his father would have blamed him for the abuse. 

3) As mentioned before, John was always the target for his father's rage. John was quite an overweight child and had various health issues. He had problems academically at school and could never get the hang of sports. His father branded him 'weak' and a 'sissy' 

4)  Despite the abuse at the hands of his father, he later claimed that despite his father's extreme disciplined ways and lack of love, he respected him and what he stood for. He admired his father's working ability and his beliefs. John said in an interview: My Dad was domineering. He had a different set of values but also very stern. My Dad drank a lot. When he drank a lot, he was abusive to my mother and to me but I never swung at my Dad because I loved him for what he stood for.''

5) John was in prison when his father passed away from illness linked to his alcoholism. Despite the tense relationship that the pair had over the years, John still had love for his father and when he had heard that he was in poor health, he begged prison officials to let him visit his father in hospital, this was refused. He was informed that his father had finally passed away and he was both devastated at the loss and the fact that he was not allowed to attend the funeral. Some people often pinpoint this moment as the start of John's road to murderous behaviour but I don't agree because he was already on this path with having been convicted of sexual assault of a young boy and had been in trouble before for aggravated assault which he managed to get away with. 

6) John's first known crime was that of a horrific sexual assault on a young boy which saw him sentenced to 10 years in prison, Shockingly, he only served 18 months for this crime due to the fact that he was able to manipulate and hoodwink prison staff and fellow inmates into thinking he was harmless. As a sex offender, John 's life in prison should have been hell. The usual reaction to a sex offender in prison is one of anger and they will literally be killed on sight. John had managed to convince everyone that he was just this nice guy who got sent to jail by mistake because he told a young boy to watch a p*rn movie. Surprisingly, everyone bought it. 

7) Whilst in prison, John would work as a chef in the kitchen and this helped make him popular too with his fellow inmates. 

8) Not a lot of people know this but John had been married twice. Once in 1964 and again in 1972. He also had two children. In his first marriage he had become quite popular with his wife's father who persuaded him to manage a chain of restaurants for him. John's ability to be focused, committed and hard working, endeared a lot of people to him. His father responded to this new development of John becoming successful career wise and having a family, as a great achievement and he told John so, John had finally felt like he had gotten his father's approval. 

9) John had once worked in a mortuary and rumours persist to this day that he may have interfered with some of the bodies - let's hope not. 

10) Both of John's marriages had failed and in his second marriage the breakdown was a lot to do with his strange behaviour, moodswings,  homosexual related p*rn magazines all over the house and having no interest in having sex with his wives. 

11) John always claimed to have been a loving, caring father who had done the best for his children despite the fact that after the conviction for the sexual assault of the young boy, he never saw his children or first wife again. 

12) John moved into the infamous house of death on 8213 Summerdale Avenue in 1971 just before his second marriage, he originally lived there with his mother before she moved out.

(Summerdale Ave: Picture credit: housecreep)

13) John would cruise the streets of Chicago and would often use police badges to stop young men in the street. He carried out a number of sexual assaults which were never properly reported. On one occasion he'd tried to assault a young man who reported the incident to the police. The matter was supposed to go to court but the young man didn't appear at the hearing and the case was dropped. It makes you wonder if the young man was threatened or paid off to keep quiet.

14) After his mother had moved out and his second wife moved into 8213 Summerdale with her two children, John had already been r*ping, torturing and killing young boys, some of which were buried in the crawl space. His wife constantly complained about the horrific smell, obviously she had no idea what it was. John always came up with the excuse that it was a plumbing issue. At this point in his life, John was not only living with his second wife and her two daughters but he was also doing very well with his contracting business. 

15) John was popular around the local area and was known as a successful businessman and very generous. He would donate money and take part in fundraisers for hospitals dressing up as a clown which he nicknamed 'Pogo'. He came up with the name 'Pogo' because it was a mash up of 'Polish' and 'On the go'. He always enjoyed dressing up as a clown and claimed that it reminded him of childhood. He would often paint clowns later on in his art. John loved to throw parties and the neighbours would later say that he always did amazing barbecues. 

(John Wayne Gacy: Picture credit: chicago.suntimes)

16) John's first known victim was a young boy called Timothy Jack McCoy in 1972 . He'd picked the 16 year old up at a bus stop and took him back to his house where he claimed the pair had consensual sex. The next morning, John claimed that he accidentally stabbed Timothy to death after he saw the boy standing in his room with a knife. The boy was making breakfast at the time and John claimed that he didn't know this until he walked into the kitchen afterwards. Timothy's body was placed in the crawl space. 

17) When his second wife left him and he was alone in the house, he continued to bring boys back to the house where they would be subjected to torture, r*pe and murder. He'd do horrendous things such as sitting on his victim's chest whilst forcing the victim to perform oral sex on him. He also used a Tourniquet which he nicknamed his 'rope trick' to strangle his victims after he repeatedly r*ped and tortured them. 

18) John would either pick up or lure young men and boys to his home who were either homeless or runaways. Some of the boys had actually worked for him in his construction business. John was a respected businessman and people would often see him driving around in his car. He made $300,000 a year and would approach young men offering them a job for a really decent wage. He would persuade some of the boys to come back to his house for a proper interview. 

19) John claimed in a later interview that his home on Summerdale Ave was not as it was perceived. He claimed that the house was more of a hang-out place with an office but he also lived there. People were always coming and going and he said four other people had keys to the property.

20) As with a lot of serial killers, John became careless because his final known victim was not a young boy from the streets, the boy was a clean-cut, academically gifted 15 year old by the name of Robert Piest. John had spotted the boy at a local pharmacy one night and couldn't help himself. Robert was stacking shelves at the pharmacy because he was saving money and his family had instilled good values in him about working hard for what you want in life. It happened to be his mother's birthday so he was looking forward to finishing his shift and getting home to the family gathering. His mother actually turned up to give him a lift home and he was excited to see her but he told her to hang on for 5 minutes because there was a guy who wanted to talk to him about a possible job. John did his usual routine of offering to pay Robert double the money that he was earning at the pharmacy and since John was well respected in the local area, you can imagine that Robert felt comfortable to get into his car. That night when Robert left the pharmacy and told his mother to wait for a few minutes, that was the last time anyone saw him alive. The poor boy became John's victim that night but his abduction was to be John Wayne Gacy's downfall. 

21) Straight away, the search was on for Robert Piest and the name John Gacy was thrown around quite a lot. Robert's parents tried calling the Summerdale residence but nobody answered. The cops became highly suspicious of John and noticed his strange behaviour and lack of cooperation in the search for Robert. 

22) The cops kept an eye on John and it drove him crazy, they followed him around and parked outside of his house. John would tell his friends and colleagues that the cops were actually his bodyguards and a lot of people seemed to fall for this. 

23) John couldn't take any more of the harassment by the police and started falling off the deep end. He smoked some weed and started driving erratically, he was incoherent and drove like a maniac to his lawyer's office and the lawyer was freaked out by him. The cops needed an excuse to hold him at the police station so they came up with a charge of driving under the influence. 

24) A search warrant for 8213 Summerdale Avenue was granted and investigators discovered the badly decomposed body of what appeared to be a young man. The smell was horrendous and the sight must have been unimaginable. They decided to investigate further and sure enough, more bodies were discovered and the media caught wind of this and had parked up outside of John's house. one by one, the human remains which were sealed in bags were brought out by investigators as the public looked on in shock. 

25) The evidence against John Wayne Gacy was overwhelming (they found wallets, rings and blood stains on the walls and carpets) and at first he was casual about everything and had no remorse, no feeling about what he had done. He ended up confessing and told the police and said ''you have all the bodies.'' A map of where the bodies had been buried in the crawl space was made and John took them to the garage where he told them another victim was buried. 

26) John Wayne Gacy was convicted of 33 murders and sentenced to die by lethal injection in 1980. He would spend the coming years putting in tons of appeals and his death sentence was constantly pushed back. He finally exhausted every avenue and had no choice but to face it this time. 

27) For 13 years, John refused to talk to the media but he did want to talk to the general public and he would be inundated with letters from people all over the world. It was through writing that he met Jason Moss (who I have written about in the next post) 

28) All of a sudden, with two years left to go until he faced the needle, John Wayne Gacy couldn't stop talking, telling people he's innocent and that four people should have been arrested with him. These people, all had keys to John's house and were known to be p**dophiles. John knew David Norman who cops nicknamed ''The P*ado of all P*ados, who ran a child s** ring in the 1970s. David had stacks of information on other members of his group which included a list of 30.000 p**dophiles. David Norman, Michael Paske, Michael Rossi and David Cram were all acquaintances of John Wayne Gacy and each of them were involved in the trafficking of young boys for sexual abuse. This nationwide sex trafficking operation which was based in Chicago (where these guys all happened to be around the same time in the 70s which is just too much of a coincidence) was called 'The Delta Ring' and young boys were trafficked and supplied to dangerous p**dophiles. 

''From years of research, we found that p**dophiles, like Norman and Gacy - had lines of communication that tied them together. Whether through coded ads in Boy's Life magazine or actual contact to trade p**nography or traffic in humans.'' - Tracy Ullman 

29) John claimed that these other men had also been employees of his and would stay and hang out at the house whilst they all had keys. They denied it and no proper investigation was done. 

30) Other theories that surround John Wayne Gacy include him being, allegedly connected to another infamous serial killer  Dean Corll who also tortured and murdered young boys. Dean was also connected to David Norman and The Delta Ring. 

''Had this case been properly investigated, I think you would have had four indictments, a minimum of four indictments and I say that sincerely,'' - John Wayne Gacy (1992) 

31) According to investigators, from 1972 to 1975 there is a gap with no recorded murders by John Wayne Gacy. This could be due to him murdering the boys and disposing of the bodies elsewhere, nobody knows for sure but John told a cop ''I told my lawyer and I've told you guys that there's 33 but really, 45 sounds like a good number.''

(Some of the known victims of John Wayne Gacy. Picture credit: harpersbazaar)

32) All of John Wayne Gacy's victims were males and the ages ranged from 14 to 22. His method of killing was strangulation except for his first known killing which is when he claims he 'accidentally' stabbed the young boy from the bus station to death. 

33) At the time of his arrest, John was recorded as being 5'9 and weighing 218 lbs, his occupation on his police file was listed as: Contractor. 

34) The FBI provided investigative assistance to the Chicago Police Department when looking into John's background and his first crimes with the short time spent behind bars in the 1960s. 

35) 8213 Summerdale Avenue was demolished in 1979 and another house was built in it's place. The owner changed the address to 8215 Summerdale Avenue. The house was recently out up for sale but it is no longer available. It is a beautiful house but a lot of misguided people actually think that this is the house where John Wayne Gacy actually lived. I'm surprised the land was not used for a memorial garden or just left empty as we've seen as previous crime scenes where horrendous murders have taken place inside of a home. 

''I'm not only the victim here, I may be the 34th victim but there are other victims to this crime and that is the family. I know I didn't commit the crime, I have been given the injustice and so is the families and nobody gives a damn about the families.'' - John Wayne Gacy (1992) 

36) John Wayne Gacy never expressed any remorse for his crimes and towards the end he denied it. He claimed that he had only been responsible for two murders. He kept a file on each of the victims which included details of their autopsies and likes/interests/background and pictures. He also kept a diary and logged absolutely everything he did in prison every day. John was obsessed with keeping records of everything. 

37) When asked what he thought about Jeffrey Dahmer he said: ''What do I think of Jeffrey Dahmer? I don't know the man personally but I'll tell you this, that is a good example why insanity does not belong in the courtroom because Jeffrey Dahmer doesn't meet the requirements for insanity then I'd hate like hell to run into the guy that does. Beyond that, I have no comment on Jeffrey Dahmer because I'm not Jeffrey Dahmer And I would not, whether it's Berkowitz, whether it's Bundy, whether it's Wayne Williams down in Atlanta or any of the others or Charles Manson. I do not comment about other cases. The simple fact is that I wasn't there. I hate when they put me in the same club with them.''

38) When John was asked at the time of his arrest why he murdered all of those boys he said ''I was afraid they would expose me. They were just human trash anyway.'' 

''I'm just as lovable and jokable as I was back then, I don't sit around worrying about the death penalty and things like that. If you feel like you've lived your life the right way then you have nothing to fear.'' - John Wayne Gacy (1992) 

(John Wayne Gacy. Picture credit: chicago.suntimes)

39) Despite John's academic short comings and everything else, there is no denying the fact that he was able to lie, manipulate and calculate his way around people and to get to where he wanted to be. He was able to use his skills to lure people in to a false sense of security. He did manage to achieve a successful business with no qualifications and talked himself into high society parties having his picture taken with the likes of the Former First Lady of The United States, Rosalynn Carter. He was also a talented painter. 

''Walt Disney is a great mentor for me because I have always enjoyed his creativity.'' - John Wayne Gacy (1992) 

40) John often contradicted himself in conversation and would often trip himself up with what he said. His lack of real, genuine remorse for the victims and their families really shone through in this statement ''There's one lady who goes on television all the time and thinks that i should be given 33 injections. I think she ought to take 33 Valiums and go and lay down. She goes on Geraldo and Maury talking about her marine son. If her marine son was so great then why the hell did he run away from home 12 times?''.  John was wrong about the victim in question who was in fact, 19 year old John Mowery who had visited Summerdale Avenue for an interview about a possible job at his company. John Mowery was a US marine who was studying to be an accountant and was not a runaway. 

41) When asked in an interview about his role as a father, John replied ''I'm loving and caring. I've always looked after my children, even now. A lot of the things my Dad did, I refuse to do. I don't believe in hitting children. I don't believe in spoiling a child. My values are such that if you give enough love to a child...'' He was interrupted during speaking by the interviewer who reminded him again that he was indeed, responsible for the cold blooded murder of (known) 33 young men and boys. His response to this was ''You're basing this garbage on what you've heard of me.''

42)  At John's trial the jury took just two hours to find him guilty and he was sentenced to death by lethal injection. For years he played with the system with endless appeals. He had his last meal which he changed from fries and fried chicken to fried shrimp or lobster. 

43) After 14 years in prison and no more appeals to stretch the time out, he finally went to gurney on the 10th of May 1994. 

44) It took John Wayne Gacy 18 minutes to officially pass away from the lethal injection 

45) John Wayne Gacy may be no more but his chilling legacy lives on and this case remains open and it will continue to do so as long as those poor boys who have never been identified are finally named. 

I'm aware that this was quite a long post but I'm proud to say that it packed with quite a lot of information and I could have gone and on but I think this post is long enough. I hope it has held your interest. 

I would just like to take a moment to remember some of the victims that we know about and who have been identified...so far. RIP:

John Butkovich (18)

Darrell Sampson (18)

Randall Reffett (15)

Samuel Stapleton (14)

Michael L. Bonnin (17)

William Carroll Jr (16)

Rick Johnston (17)

Gregory Godzik (17)

John A. Szyc (19)

John S. Prestidge (21)

Matthew Bowman (18)

Robert E. Gilroy (18)

John Mowery (19)

Russell Nelson (22)

Robert Winch (16)

Tommy Boling (20)

David Talsma (19)

William Kindred (19)

Timothy O'Rourke (20)

Frank Landingin (19)

James Mazzara (20)

Robert Piest (15)

Kenneth Parker (16)

Michael Marino (14)

Timothy Jack McCoy (16)

James Haakenson (16)

William George Bundy (19)

And the names we are yet to learn. Let's hope they are recognised one of these days. May they all rest in heavenly peace. 

(The grave of the unidentified victims. Picture credit: cookcountysheriff)

Further reading & sources: 

Inside The Mind of A Serial Killer of John Wayne Gacy | Book by Brad Hunter

The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey Into The Mind of A Serial Killer | Book by Jason Moss & Jeffrey A. Kottler

To Catch A Killer | TV Movie Based On The John Wayne Gacy Case

John Wayne Gacy: Documentary | Born To Kill

John Wayne Gacy Talks: Part One | CBS Chicago

John Wayne Gacy Talks: Part Two | CBS Chicago

John Wayne Gacy Talks: Part Three | CBS Chicago

John Wayne Gacy Talks: Part Four | CBS Chicago

John Wayne Gacy Talks: Part Five | CBS Chicago

John Wayne Gacy: News Report | Chicago Tribune

John Wayne Gacy | Britannica

John Wayne Gacy: Article | Mirror

John Wayne Gacy | Murderpedia

Conversations With A Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes | Netflix

John Wayne Gacy: Article | New York Post

John Wayne Gacy | Wikipedia

Serial Killers: Article | CNN

Serial Killers of The 70s | Book by Jane Fritsch

the Big Book of Serial Killers: Volume 2 | Book by Jack Rosewood & Rebecca Lo

-  The Encyclopedia of Serial Killers | Book by Michael Newton

John Wayne Gacy: Defending A Monster | Book by Sam L. Amirante & Danny Broderick

If you have made it all the way to the end of this post I am extremely grateful and I do hope that you were able to take away some information from this post that you might not have been aware of before. 

I will be continuing my 70s Serial Killers series next week so I hope you will join me in that post. I hope you are finding the series interesting so far.

I wish you a good week ahead and as always, thank you for taking the time to read my work. 

See you in the next post x


  1. Another great and fascinating post I always enjoy your post and reading them I learn something new about those serial killers you write about looking foward to reading your next post.

    1. Thank you so much, I really appreciate that. Hope you're having a good week x

  2. Good evening Jo,

    I just finished reading your third instalment of your Serial Killers series.

    I thought I knew a lot about John Wayne Gacy from some of my reading, documentaries that I’ve seen and also movies about him but you have made me discovered things that I never heard about him before.

    I totally agree with you about the movie “To Catch a Killer”, it’s my favourite True Crime movies about the life of a serial killer. Brian Dennehy is incredible in the movie and I missed him, he was a fantastic actor.

    There were a lot of facts that I wasn’t aware of. I always thought that Gacy was probably the creepiest serial killers ever, and one of the most evil person to ever live on this Earth but now I’m convinced that he was arguably the worst. The fact that he has done all these horrendous crimes but also living a double life is so disturbing. The authorities & the legal system again could have prevent so many of his crimes if he would have stayed in prison the first time.

    A manipulative creepy monster with no remorse. Thankfully, he finally has been executed years ago but he created so much pain around him. He destroyed so many lives, so many families.

    RIP to all of his young victims, it’s heartbreaking.

    Thank you for your amazing work Jo, I wish you a great Sunday evening.

  3. I can never rave about 'To Catch A Killer' enough. I saw a clip of it recently (not had the time to watch the full movie recently but I will be watching it again) and it still gives me the chills. Thank you for checking out the post and for commenting, much appreciated x

  4. I have to say, when it comes to the most horrifying monsters to have ever walked this earth I always learn something new about them that I never knew before by reading your incredibly detailed work.

    First, I have to say I love the way this post is laid out and written. The approach that you've taken really draws the reader in and hooks them start to finish and I love it.

    Second, having lived in the Chicago area and having spent a lot of time in the town of Des Plaines and the surrounding area reading this gave me chills. Even though I had lived there a decade after his arrest it still freaks me out a bit to know that I was literally driving down the same streets that he could of frequented.

    Third, one of the things that really jumped out at me in all of this is the fact that we have a very conniving and manipulative psychopath that is known to be a liar with a penchant for talking his way out of situations.

    And with that in mind the fact that he was a manipulative psycho he said one thing that really makes me think that occasionally he was telling the truth. When he said that if a proper investigation of the people he was associated with in the Delta Boys was done that there would of been a minimum of 4 more indictments.

    This I believe he was telling the truth, I don't believe though that he was only responsible for just 2 of the murders but I do believe that his associates from the Delta Boys may have had a role to play in some of the murders. The Chicago PD and the outlying suburbs were notorious throughout the 50's to the late 90's as being some of the most corrupt police departments in the country.

    My heart goes out to every single one of the families that were devastated by this monster (or monsters if my theory is true), and I hope that the families can have some closure that this monster is gone forever.

    Again I have to say this was an absolutely brilliant True Crime Case and as such I have to say thank you for such incredible work!