We'll be profiling 13 serial killers over the course of the 13 days leading up to Halloween. Today, we learn why you should never trust appearances. Have any suggestions for our list? Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the world of famous serial killers, there are three Americans who stand above the rest. Starting today, all three will be covered on this list. The first one led a seemingly normal life to the outside world, but he was actually in the midst of a six-year killing spree. This man went by the name of John Wayne Gacy.
Before he began killing, Gacy had a long history of sexual violence against young men and boys.
After being released from prison in Iowa in 1970, Gacy relocated to Chicago, and shortly thereafter, he started a construction business called PDM Contractors. Gacy used his position as the founder of the company to hire teenage boys -- some of whom he later went on to abuse and murder.
Gacy was always a twisted person, but he was not a murderer...until he had a chance encounter in 1972.
On January 2, 1972, Gacy picked up 16-year-old Timothy Jack McCoy from a bus station. The Nebraska native joined Gacy under the premise that Gacy would give him a sightseeing tour of the city. After the tour, it was too late for McCoy to catch a bus back home. Gacy offered to let the teen stay at his house that night.
In the morning, Gacy awoke to see McCoy standing in his bedroom doorway holding a kitchen knife. A sleep-addled Gacy rushed from his bed and charged McCoy. In a gesture of surrender, McCoy accidentally tilted the knife upward and sliced Gacy's forearm. The two then struggled before Gacy ultimately stabbed McCoy repeatedly. When he walked into the kitchen, Gacy saw that the table was set for breakfast. McCoy had absentmindedly gone to wake him up while he was still holding the knife.
In what would become a pattern, Gacy hid McCoy's body in the crawlspace under his house. Gacy said it was after this incident that he realized killing was "the ultimate thrill."
For the next six years, Gacy made regular journeys to the seedier areas of Chicago to pick up boys with offers of money, sex, or drugs. He then took them back to his house in the Chicago suburb of Norwood Park Township. His favorite way to kill his victims was by using his "rope trick." This method involved Gacy applying a tourniquet to the necks of his victims and slowly strangling them. He tightened the rope until they were on the verge of death, loosened it, and then repeated the entire process over and over until his victims died.
Despite the horrific murders happening in his house, Gacy was actually considered a model citizen by members of the community.
He did a lot of volunteer and charity work. One organization he was involved with was the Jolly Joker Club. Members of this organization dressed as clowns for charity events. His involvement there led Gacy to create his infamous alter ego, "Pogo the Clown."
In 1978, Gacy managed to meet with First Lady Rosalynn Carter while he was chairman of the Chicago Polish Constitution Day Parade. After the killer was arrested, the photo above became a national embarrassment for the Secret Service.
By 1978, police were closing in on Gacy.
After a particularly sloppy abduction in broad daylight, Gacy was strongly suspected in the disappearance of a 15-year-old boy who told his parents shortly before he went missing that a contractor wanted to contact him for a job. Police placed Gacy under surveillance after this report was filed. After a few weeks, the strain of running his business and dealing with the surveillance team started getting to him. He decided to file a lawsuit against the police department for harassment.
However, the lawsuit proved to be his downfall.
On December 20, 1978, during a routine meeting with his lawyer to discuss the suit, Gacy arrived late and disheveled. He asked his lawyer for some whiskey and proceeded to nonchalantly confess to murdering at least 30 young men and teenagers.
Halfway through his confession, Gacy got drunk and passed out. His shocked lawyer informed the police, who then drew up search warrants for Gacy's home.
Police tore up Gacy's home to recover the remains of his victims. Needless to say, it was a gruesome sight.
Sadly, police were not able to recover the bodies of every victim. After three killings, he started disposing of bodies in the river.
At trial, Gacy was found guilty of 33 counts of murder and was then sentenced to death. After exhausting the appeals process, Gacy was finally executed in 1994.
This is a photo of people celebrating his death in Chicago.
At one point, Gacy said to police, "You know...clowns can get away with murder." At least for a little while, anyway.