John Wayne Gacy, Jr.


Pogo the Clown
The Killer Clown



Birth Date

March 17, 1942

Place of Birth

Chicago, Illinois

Date of Death

May 10, 1994 (aged 51)

Place of Death

Crest Hill, Illinois


Former Ambulance Service Worker
Former Mortuary Assistant
Former Shoe Company Salesman
Former KFC Manager
Former Short Order Cook
Construction Foreman (At the time of arrest)
Clown (Occasionally)


Serial Killer
Serial Rapist

Modus Operandi

Rape and torture
Stabbing (first murder)
Asphyxiation (later)


Organized lust

No. of Victims

33 killed
3+ raped

Span of crimes

August 1967 - December 11, 1978

Criminal Charges

1 count of sodomy
33 counts of murder
1 count of sexual assault
1 count of indecent liberties with a child




December 11, 1978


(executed by lethal injection)


Gacy was raised by an abusive, alcoholic father, who referred to him as "sissy", and a passive mother. He was close to his sisters and his mother, who called him "Johnny". After attending four different high schools, Gacy dropped out before completing his senior year and cut off all contact with his family, heading west. After running out of money in Las Vegas, Nevada, Gacy lied about his age and applied for a job as an ambulance driver at the Palm Mortuary Memorial Park, for which the minimum age was 21. When the staff learned the truth, they terminated Gacy's employment as a driver but offered him an alternative post as a mortuary assistant, in which he would move corpses and material from the hospital to the funeral home. Because Gacy could not afford lodgings with his new pay, he was also allowed to sleep at night in the premises, a fact that would cause considerable speculation of necrophilia when his crimes were discovered, years later. Gacy was shown how the bodies were cleaned, treated, and embalmed; at night, when everyone else left, he would pull out the drawers and examine the bodies, talk to them, and undress them, neatly folding their clothes next to the caskets. This lasted until the director became suspicious and called the police one day. Though Gacy was not identified as the culprit, he began to save money for the return trip to Chicago and quit three months later.

Without returning to high school, he enrolled in and eventually graduated from Northwestern Business College in 1963. A management trainee position with the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company followed shortly after graduation, and in 1964, Gacy was transferred to Springfield, Illinois. There he met coworker Marlynn Myers, and they married in September of that year. He became active in local Springfield organizations, joining the Jaycees and rising to vice-president of the Springfield chapter by 1965. Gacy would later become involved in political activism, construction, and several other fields, all the while racking up minor criminal charges. In 1975, Gacy created the character "Pogo the Clown", which he used to support himself. His habit of wearing the costume at charity events and parties later led to him being nicknamed the "Killer Clown". During this time, his involvement in politics eventually landed him clearance by the U.S. Secret Service. Shortly thereafter, he would begin his murders. He started with a young juvenile named Tim McCoy, whom he allegedly killed in self-defense. He soon murdered a co-worker name, John Butkovich. After many years of murdering, Gacy was eventually apprehended in Des Plaines following the disappearance of 15-year-old Robert Priest who was last seen with Gacy. The police obtained a search warrant for Gacy's home, where they discovered a powerful odor and numerous items belonging to other missing young men.

Authorities then suspected Gacy of murder and would soon obtain a second search warrant. The second search would target the crawlspace in which police ripped up the floorboards and began to dig into the earth of the crawlspace. During the search, police found human bones buried in the soil of the crawlspace and, at that point, they placed Gacy under arrest for murder. Gacy would admit to 25-30 murders in the 1970s. When police searched his home, the remains of at least 29 people were found buried in various places. The other remaining victims were found in the Des Plaines River. During his trial, and in order to lessen his sentence, Gacy began telling officials and prosecutors that he had an alter-ego personality named Jack, who was responsible for the murders. Psychiatric evaluation proved the claim to be false. Later in an interview on Death Row shortly before his execution, Gacy claimed himself to be the 34th victim as he was innocent and had no involvement with the murders and subsequent burials. Gacy claimed that his employees set him up. This proved to be false as he had already claimed responsibility for the murders of the young men years prior. It is reported that Gacy killed 33 young men between 1972 and 1978.

He is also known to have raped two males of the same age, one in 1968 and one in May 1978, both of whom were left alive. The nine unidentified victims were all buried in individual graves with headstones reading "We Are Remembered". Gacy was later found guilty of his crimes and sentenced to execution by lethal injection at Stateville Prison in Crest Hill, IL on May 10, 1994. When asked whether he had any last words during his execution, he reportedly snarled, "Kiss my ass." He was then executed, aged 51.

Modus Operandi

According to Gacy's confession to the police, he would pick up Caucasian male runaways or male prostitutes in their mid-teens to their early twenties from the Chicago Greyhound Bus station or off the streets. Afterwards, he would take them back to his house by either promising them money for sex, offering them a job with his construction company, simply grabbing them by force or forcing them into his car at gunpoint. Once they got back to his house, he would handcuff them or tie them up in another way after intoxicating them with alcohol or knocking them out with chloroform. He would torture them in various ways (such as using a fire poker on them, dripping hot melted candle wax on their bodies, repeatedly drowning them in his bathtub, or by placing them in a homemade "rack"). As a show of dominance, he would urinate on his victims. Gacy would rape his victims both before and after killing them, keeping the bodies around for a day or so.

One of his most infamous ways of binding his victims was convincing them to allow him to handcuff them under the pretense that it was part of a magic trick. Gacy would often stick paper towels or clothing (such as a sock or even their own underwear) in their mouths to muffle their screams, causing them to fatally asphyxiate. He would also kill his victims by strangling them with a rope or a board as he sexually assaulted them with sex toys, then bury the bodies in his crawlspace. Periodically, Gacy would pour lime in the crawlspace to hasten the decomposition of the bodies. Three victims were disposed of the property by being dropped into the Des Plaines River. When he killed his first victim, Timothy McCoy, he stabbed him in the chest with a kitchen knife instead of asphyxiating him.