10 May 1994 – John Wayne Gacy
Clowns don’t get more sinister than John Wayne Gacy. He’d dress in a clown’s costume and seemingly wow the Chicago neighbourhood. But really he was to become one of America’s most notorious serial killers, who preyed on boys and young men.
Between 1972 and 1978 he was to target 33 people, burying some beneath the floorboards in his house, or dumping them in the nearby river.
Pogo the Clown was his alter ego and he’d hold parties, or entertain at others’ parties, even visit the local hospitals’ children’s wards. He managed three Kentucky Fried Chicken gaffs and was married with two children, as well as being involved on the political scene: the perfect veneer.
But little did his neighbours know that Gacy had previous. In 1968 he was given a 10-year sentence for sodomy after he raped a 16-year-old boy. His first wife promptly divorced him, but then he was prematurely released after a mere 18 months for good behaviour.
Needless to say, the good behaviour didn’t last. It was time for him to move on, so Gacy headed Chicago way with a clean slate, where no-one knew him. And there he couldn’t help himself. Up to his old tricks, he committed another offence, but the boy failed to turn up at court, so he was able to walk free.
And it was tricks that helped him lure his victims – he’d entertain the unsuspecting minors with a handcuff trick, first cuffing himself then releasing the lock. Then he’d handcuff his victim. Only he didn’t play fairly. He didn’t release them. Instead he would gag them then rape them as he strangled them.
Of the 33 murders he is said to have committed, most bodies were stashed under the floorboards, but a few were chucked into the Des Plaines River.
He was eventually caught and bizarrely at his trial, the chump pleaded insanity. Well…momentary lapses of insanity, just long enough for him to kill. Then, he’d regain his mental abilities in order to dispose of the bodies rationally.
Mmmm…the jury didn’t buy it as a defence either and he was sentenced. What didn’t help his plight was his little quip during the trial about ‘running a cemetery without a licence’.
Gacy was finally sent for execution in Illinois by lethal injection amid parties outside in celebration of his demise. But all didn’t go entirely to plan. The intravenous lines got clogged as the three liquids merged and solidified. So there was an impromptu pause as the lines were replaced.
The whole episode took 18 minutes from start to finish, before Gacy was pronounced dead, aged 52.