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Gacy's house was located at W. Summerdale Ave. On several occasions, visitors and family members reported that the house had an unusual stench, which Gacy attributed to mold or rodents.
Others were buried in the backyard or dumped in the nearby Des Plaines River. In , with Gacy under arrest, the house was dismantled in an effort to find more evidence.
The following year, the house and all structures on the property were demolished, and a new house was eventually built on the property.
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British serial killer John Christie murdered at least six women, including his wife, before being arrested and hanged in John Dillinger was an infamous gangster and bank robber during the Great Depression.
He was known as "Jackrabbit" and "Public Enemy No. Gacy later bought a home 30 miles outside of Chicago, in Des Plaines, Illinois. Gacy and his mother lived in the house, which was part of the terms of Gacy's probation.
In early February , Gacy lured a teenage boy to his home and tried to rape him, but the boy escaped and went to the police. Word of his arrest never got back to his parole officer.
On Jan. His next bus wasn't scheduled until the following day, but when Gacy approached him and offered to give him a tour of the city, plus let him sleep at his house, McCoy took him up on it.
Gacy thought the teen intended on killing him, so he charged the boy and got control of the knife. Afterward, he realized that he had mistaken McCoy's intentions.
The teen had a knife because he was preparing breakfast and had gone to Gacy's room to wake him up. Although Gacy had not planned to kill McCoy when he brought him home, he couldn't dismiss the fact that he had become sexually aroused to the point of orgasm during the kill.
In fact, the killing was the most intense sexual pleasure he had ever felt. Timothy Jack McCoy was the first of many to be buried in the crawl space under Gacy's home.
On July 1, , Gacy married a high school sweetheart, Carole Hoff. She and her two daughters from a previous marriage moved into Gacy's home.
Carole was aware of why Gacy had spent time in prison, but he had downplayed the charges and convinced her that he had changed his ways. Again the charges were dropped; this time because the victim had tried to blackmail Gacy.
In the meantime, as Gacy added more bodies in the crawlspace under his house, a horrible stench began to fill the air, both inside and outside of Gacy's home.
It got to be so bad that neighbors began to insist that Gacy find a solution to get rid of the odor.
In Gacy left his construction job and started a contracting business called Painting, Decorating, and Maintenance, or PDM Contractors, Inc.
Gacy told friends that one way he planned to keep his costs down was by hiring teenage boys. But Gacy saw it as another way to find teens to lure to his basement of horrors.
He began posting available jobs and then invited the applicants to his house on the pretext of talking to them about a job.
Once the boys were inside his home, he would overpower them using various tricks, render them unconscious and then begin his gruesome and sadistic torture that almost always led to their death.
He worked tirelessly on community projects, had several neighborhood parties, developed close friendships with his next-door neighbors, and became a familiar face, dressed as Pogo the Clown, at birthday parties and at the children's hospital.
People liked John Wayne Gacy. By day, he was a successful business owner and community do-gooder, but by night, unknown to anyone but his victims, he was a sadistic killer on the loose.
In October Carole filed for divorce after Gacy admitted to her that he was attracted to young men. She wasn't surprised by the news. Months before, on Mother's Day, he had informed her that they would not be having any more sex together.
She was also bothered by all of the gay porn magazines lying around and she could no longer ignore all the teenage males coming in and out of the house.
Having Carole out of his hair, Gacy focused on what really mattered to him most; keeping his do-gooder facade in the community so that he could continue to achieve sexual gratification by raping and killing young boys.
From to , Gacy had managed to hide the bodies of 29 of his victims under his house, but because of lack of space and the odor, he dumped the bodies of his last four victims into the Des Moines River.
On December 11, , in Des Moines, year-old Robert Piest went missing after leaving his job at a pharmacy. He was given 12 months probation under the conditions that he moved back to Chicago to live with his mother and maintained a 10 p.
Months after his release, when he and his mother were living in Des Plaines, Illinois, Gacy lured a teenage boy into his house and tried to rape him.
Gacy was charged with sexual assault, but the charges were dropped when the boy failed to show up to court. Gacy had technically violated his parole, but somehow his parole officer was never aware of the episode.
By , Gacy had settled into a new home in Norwood Park, a neighborhood in northwestern Chicago. His yellow brick ranch house there, at West Summerdale Avenue, would eventually become a graveyard for 29 young men and boys.
While in prison, Gacy had become something of an artist and repeatedly sketched the image of Pogo the Clown. He taught himself how to apply clown makeup and turned himself into Pogo the Clown as he had imagined him in his drawings.
He performed as Pogo the Clown at all sorts of local parties, including Democratic Party functions and charitable events. He would knock at your door and say vote for my candidate.
Chicago Tribune Twitter John Wayne Gacy as Pogo the Clown. Carol Hoff, his high school sweetheart and second wife who he married in , questioned his sexuality.
When Gacy told her he was bisexual in , Hoff divorced him and left him alone in their house. Though she denied knowledge of what was to come, Hoff later admitted to authorities that she had seen him bringing teenage boys into their garage before.
The same year Gacy married Hoff, he committed his first murder, that of Timothy McCoy. He stashed the body under his crawlspace.
Gacy reportedly managed to kill a second victim while still married to his wife, in Torf named Gacy as the contractor Piest had most likely left the store to talk to about a job.
Lieutenant Joseph Kozenczak , whose son attended Maine West High School like Piest, chose to investigate Gacy further.
Kozenczak and two Des Plaines police officers visited Gacy at his home the following evening. Gacy indicated he had seen two youths working at the pharmacy and that he had asked one of them—whom he believed to be Piest—whether there were any remodeling materials behind the store.
When questioned as to how soon he could come to the police station, he responded, "You guys are very rude. Don't you have any respect for the dead?
At a. On returning to the police station later that day, Gacy denied any involvement in Piest's disappearance and repeated that he had not offered him a job.
When asked why he had returned to the pharmacy, Gacy reiterated that he had done so in response to a phone call from Torf informing him he had left his appointment book at the store.
Detectives had already spoken with Torf, who denied calling Gacy. At the request of detectives, Gacy prepared a written statement detailing his movements on December Suspecting Gacy might be holding Piest against his will at his home, Des Plaines police obtained a warrant to search Gacy's house on December A blue hooded parka was found atop a tool box inside the laundry room, and underwear too small to fit Gacy was located inside a bathroom closet.
In the northwest bedroom, investigators found a class of Maine West High School ring engraved with the initials J. The Des Plaines police confiscated Gacy's Oldsmobile and other PDM work vehicles.
Police assigned two, two-man surveillance teams to monitor Gacy on a rotational twelve-hour basis as they continued their investigation into his background and potential involvement in Piest's disappearance.
On December 15, Des Plaines investigators obtained further details of Gacy's battery charge, learning the complainant, Jeffrey Rignall, had reported that Gacy had lured him into his car, then chloroformed, raped and tortured him before dumping him, with severe chest and facial burns and rectal bleeding, in Lincoln Park the following morning.
In an interview with Gacy's former wife the same day, they learned of the disappearance of John Butkovich. By December 16, Gacy was becoming affable with the surveillance detectives, regularly inviting them to join him for meals in restaurants and occasionally for drinks in bars or at his home.
He repeatedly denied that he had anything to do with Piest's disappearance and accused the officers of harassing him because of his political connections or because of his recreational drug use.
Knowing these officers were unlikely to arrest him on anything trivial, he taunted them by flouting traffic laws and succeeded in losing his pursuers more than once.
Cram also revealed that, because of his poor timekeeping, Gacy had once given him a watch, explaining he got it "from a dead person". Investigators conducted a formal interview of Rossi on December He informed them Gacy had sold Szyc's vehicle to him, explaining that he had bought the car from Szyc because he needed money to move to California.
A further examination of Gacy's Oldsmobile was conducted on this date. In the course of examining the trunk of the car, investigators discovered a small cluster of fibers which may have been human hair.
That evening, officers conducted a test using three trained German shepherd search dogs to determine whether Piest had been present in any of Gacy's vehicles.
One dog approached Gacy's Oldsmobile and lay on the passenger seat in what the dog's handler informed investigators was a "death reaction", indicating Piest's body had been present in the vehicle.
That evening, Gacy invited detectives Albrecht and Hachmeister to a restaurant for a meal. In the early hours of December 18, he invited them into another restaurant where, over breakfast, he talked of his business, his marriages and his activities as a registered clown.
At one point during the conversation, Gacy remarked: "You know By December 18, Gacy was beginning to show signs of strain from the constant surveillance: he was unshaven, looked tired, appeared anxious and was drinking heavily.
Byers admitted, when contacted in person the following day, that she had worn the jacket on December 11 to shield herself from the cold. She had placed the receipt in the parka pocket just before she gave the coat to Piest as he left the store, claiming a contractor wanted to speak with him.
The same evening, Rossi was interviewed a second time. This time he was more cooperative. He informed detectives that in the summer of , at Gacy's behest, he had spread ten bags of lime in the crawl space of Gacy's house.
On December 19, investigators began compiling evidence for a second search warrant for Gacy's house. The same day, Gacy's lawyers filed the civil suit against the Des Plaines police.
The hearing for the suit was scheduled for December That afternoon, Gacy invited the surveillance detectives inside his house again.
As officer Robinson distracted Gacy with conversation, officer Schultz walked into Gacy's bedroom in an unsuccessful attempt to write down the serial number of the Motorola TV set they suspected belonged to John Szyc.
While flushing Gacy's toilet, the officer noticed a smell he suspected could be that of rotting corpses emanating from a heating duct. The officers who had searched Gacy's house previously had failed to notice this; the house had been cold.
Investigators interviewed both Cram and Rossi on December Rossi had agreed to be interviewed in relation to his possible links with John Szyc as well as the disappearance of Robert Piest.
When questioned by Kozenczak as to where he believed Gacy had concealed Piest's body, Rossi replied Gacy may have placed the body in the crawl space, adding that he thought Szyc's car was stolen.
He denied any involvement in Piest's disappearance, also denying any knowledge of his whereabouts.
He soon refused to continue the questioning, and Rossi's "erratic and inconsistent" responses to questions while attached to the polygraph machine rendered Kozenczak "unable to render a definite opinion" as to the truthfulness of his answers.
Cram informed investigators of Gacy's attempts to rape him in 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. On the evening of December 20, Gacy drove to his lawyers' office in Park Ridge to attend a scheduled meeting, ostensibly to discuss the progress of his civil suit.
On his arrival Gacy appeared disheveled and immediately asked for an alcoholic drink, whereupon Sam Amirante fetched a bottle of whiskey from his car.
On his return, Amirante asked Gacy what he had to discuss with them. Gacy picked up a copy of the Daily Herald from Amirante's desk, pointed to a front-page article covering the disappearance of Robert Piest and said, "This boy is dead.
He's in a river. Gacy then proceeded to give a rambling confession that ran into the early hours of the following morning.
He began by informing Amirante and Stevens he had "been the judge Gacy dismissed his victims as " male prostitutes ", "hustlers" and "liars" to whom he gave "the rope trick", adding he sometimes awoke to find "dead, strangled kids" on his floor, with their hands cuffed behind their back.
As a result of the alcohol he had consumed, Gacy fell asleep midway through his confession. Amirante immediately arranged a psychiatric appointment for Gacy at a.
On awakening several hours later, Gacy shook his head when informed by Amirante he had confessed to killing approximately 30 people, saying, "Well, I can't think about this right now.
I've got things to do. Gacy later recollected his memories of his final day of freedom as being "hazy", adding he knew his arrest was inevitable and that he intended to visit his friends and say his final farewells.
After leaving his lawyers' office, Gacy drove to a gas station where, in the course of filling his rental car, he handed a small bag of cannabis to the attendant, who immediately handed the bag to the surveillance officers, adding that Gacy had told him, "The end is coming for me.
These guys are going to kill me. Gacy hugged Rhode before bursting into tears and saying, "I've been a bad boy. I killed thirty people, give or take a few.
As he drove along the expressway, the surveillance officers noted he was holding a rosary to his chin, praying while he drove.
After talking with Cram and Rossi, Gacy had Cram drive him to a scheduled meeting with lawyer Leroy Stevens. As Gacy spoke with him, Cram informed the surveillance officers that Gacy had told him and Rossi that he had confessed to over 30 murders with his lawyers the previous evening.
Gacy then had Cram drive him to Maryhill Cemetery, where his father was buried. As Gacy drove to various locations that morning, police outlined the formal draft of their second search warrant, specifically to search for the body of Robert Piest in the crawl space.
On hearing from the surveillance detectives that, in light of his erratic behavior, Gacy may be about to commit suicide, police decided to arrest him on a charge of possession and distribution of cannabis in order to hold him in custody, as the formal request for a second search warrant was presented.
Peters granted the request for a second search warrant. Armed with the signed search warrant, police and evidence technicians drove to Gacy's home.
On their arrival, officers found Gacy had unplugged his sump pump , flooding the crawl space with water; to clear it, they simply replaced the plug and waited for the water to drain.
After it had done so, evidence technician Daniel Genty entered the byfoot 8. Genty immediately shouted to the investigators that they could charge Gacy with murder, adding, "I think this place is full of kids.
The two then began digging in the southeast corner, uncovering two lower leg bones. The victims were too decomposed to be Piest. As the body discovered in the northeast corner was later unearthed, a crime scene technician discovered the skull of a second victim alongside this body.
Later excavations of the feet of this second victim revealed a further skull beneath the body. After being informed that the police had found human remains in his crawl space and that he would now face murder charges, Gacy told officers he wanted to "clear the air", adding he had known his arrest was inevitable since the previous evening, which he had spent on the couch in his lawyers' office.
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.
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.
When questioned specifically about Piest, Gacy confessed to luring him to his house and strangling him on the evening of December He also admitted to having slept alongside Piest's body that evening, before disposing of the corpse in the Des Plaines River in the early hours of December His vehicle had slid off an ice-covered road and had to be towed from its location.
Accompanied by police, his lawyers, and his older sister, Gacy was driven to the I bridge on December 23 to pinpoint the precise spot where he confessed to having thrown the body of Robert Piest and four other victims into the Des Plaines River.
To assist officers in their search for the victims buried beneath his house, during his confession, Gacy drew a rough diagram of his basement on a phone message sheet to indicate where their bodies were buried.
Cook County medical examiner Robert Stein supervised the exhumations. The crawl space was marked in sections and each body was given an identifying number.
The first body recovered from the crawl space was assigned a marker denoting the victim as Body 1. Gacy had buried this victim in the northeast section of the crawl space directly beneath the room he used as his office.
The body of John Butkovich was labelled as Body 2. The search for victims was postponed temporarily over Christmas.
Four more bodies were unearthed on December A cloth gag was found in the mouth, leading investigators to conclude this victim most likely died of asphyxiation.
On December 27, eight more bodies were discovered. Both 14 and 15 were found with their head and upper torsos inside separate plastic bags. Body 16 was found close to Body This victim was found with a cloth rag lodged deep in his throat, causing him to die of suffocation.
The seventeenth victim was found with a ligature around his neck. The following day, four more bodies were exhumed. By December 29, six more bodies were unearthed.
Bodies 22, 23, 24, and 26 were buried in a common grave located beneath Gacy's kitchen and laundry room,  with Body 25 located beneath Gacy's bathroom.
Two socks were recovered from the pelvic region. The bones of victims 23 and 24 were commingled together, and a section of cloth was found inside the mouth of Bodies 24 and The final victim recovered from the crawl space was also found beneath the bathroom, buried ten inches below the surface of the soil.
This victim was found to have a section of cloth lodged deep in his throat. Operations were suspended due to the Chicago Blizzard of , but resumed in March despite Gacy's insistence that all the buried victims had been found.
All the victims discovered at W. Summerdale were in an advanced state of decomposition. Dental records and X-ray charts helped Stein identify the remains.
These identifications were also supported with personal artifacts found in Gacy's home. The head and upper torso of several bodies unearthed beneath Gacy's property had been placed into plastic bags.
In some cases, bodies were found with foreign objects such as prescription bottles lodged into their pelvic region, the position of which indicated the items had been thrust into the victims' anus.
Stein concluded 12 victims recovered from Gacy's property died not of strangulation, but of asphyxiation.
The victim found 6 miles 9. An autopsy was unable to rule out strangulation as the cause of death. Following Gacy's arrest, investigators discovered he was a further victim.
Frank Landingin's cause of death was certified at autopsy as suffocation through his own underwear being lodged down his throat, plugging his airway and effectively causing him to drown in his own vomit.
He was assigned victim number On December 28, one further body linked to Gacy was found 1 mile 1. This victim was identified as James Mazzara, whom Gacy confessed to having murdered shortly after Thanksgiving.
On April 9, , 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.
Gacy was brought to trial on February 6, , charged with 33 murders. At the request of his defense counsel, Gacy spent over three hundred hours with doctors at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester in the year before his trial.
He underwent a variety of psychological tests before a panel of psychiatrists to determine whether he was mentally competent to stand trial. When Gacy had confessed to police, he claimed to be relaying the crimes of Jack, who detested homosexuality and who viewed male prostitutes as "weak, stupid and degraded scum".
Presenting Gacy as a Jekyll and Hyde character, the defense produced several psychiatric experts who had examined Gacy.
The prosecutors presented the case that Gacy was sane and in full control of his actions. Those doctors refuted the defense doctors' claims of multiple personalities and insanity.
Cram and Rossi testified that Gacy had made them dig drainage trenches and spread bags of lime in his crawl space.
On February 18 Robert Stein testified that all the bodies recovered from Gacy's property were "markedly decomposed [and] putrefied, skeletalized remains", and that of all the autopsies he performed, thirteen victims had died of asphyxiation, six of ligature strangulation, one of multiple stab wounds to the chest and ten in undetermined ways.
Jeffrey Rignall testified on behalf of the defense on February 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".
On February 29, Donald Voorhees, whom Gacy sexually assaulted in , 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. Robert Donnelly testified the week after Voorhees, recounting his ordeal at Gacy's hands in December 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 the fifth week of the trial, Gacy wrote a personal letter to Judge Garippo requesting a mistrial for a number of reasons, including that he did not approve of his lawyers' insanity plea; that his lawyers had not allowed him to take the witness stand as he had wanted to do ; that his defense had not called enough medical witnesses, and that the police were lying with regard to verbal statements he had purportedly made to detectives after his arrest and that, in any event, the statements were "self-serving" for use by the prosecution.
On March 11, final arguments by both prosecution and defense attorneys began; they concluded the following day. Prosecuting attorney Terry Sullivan spoke first, outlining Gacy's history of abusing youths, the testimony of his efforts to avoid detection and describing his surviving victims—Voorhees and Donnelly—as "living dead".
Referring to Gacy as the "worst of all murderers", Sullivan stated, "John Gacy has accounted for more human devastation than many earthly catastrophes, but one must tremble.
I tremble when thinking about just how close he came to getting away with it all. After the state's four-hour closing, counsel Sam Amirante spoke for the defense.
Amirante argued against the testimony delivered by the doctors who had testified for the prosecution, repeatedly citing the testimony of the four psychiatrists and psychologists who had testified on behalf of the defense.
The defense lawyer attempted to portray Gacy as a "man driven by compulsions he was unable to control", contending the State had not met their burden of proving Gacy sane beyond a reasonable doubt.
In support of these arguments, the defense referred to the testimony of the doctors who had appeared for the defense, in addition to defense witnesses such as Jeffrey Rignall and a former business associate of Gacy's—both of whom had testified to their belief that Gacy had been unable to control his actions.
Amirante then urged the jury to put aside any prejudice they held against his client and asked they deliver a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, adding that Gacy was a danger to both himself and to others, and that studying his psychology and behavior would be of benefit to science.
On the morning of March 12, William Kunkle continued to argue for the prosecution. Kunkle also referred to the testimony of one of the doctors who had examined Gacy in 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.
At the close of his argument, Kunkle removed photos of Gacy's 22 identified victims from a display board and asked the jury not to show sympathy but to "show justice".
Kunkle then asked the jury to "show the same sympathy this man showed when he took these lives and put them there!
After Kunkle had finished his testimony, the jury retired to consider their verdict. The jury deliberated for less than two hours and found Gacy guilty of 33 charges of murder; he was also found guilty of sexual assault and taking indecent liberties with a child; both convictions in reference to Robert Piest.
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 On being sentenced, Gacy was transferred to the Menard Correctional Center, where he remained incarcerated on death row for 14 years.
Before his trial, Gacy initiated contact with WLS-TV journalist Russ Ewing , to whom he granted numerous interviews between and On February 15, , Henry Brisbon, a fellow death row inmate known as the I 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.
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