To most who would have said they knew him, if one cared to ask them, John Wayne Gacy was an upstanding citizen; he helped out his neighbours, he was the chaplain of the Jaycees, and, mostly notably, he dressed up as roly-poly Pogo the Clown to entertain children. However, for those who knew John on a more… intimate level, he was a sadist, rapist, torturer and murderer – not always in that particular order.
Gacy was convicted of the torture, rape and murder of 33 males between 1972 until his arrest in 1978. Because of his Pogo the Clown persona, he was dubbed the ‘Killer Clown’ – not exactly the best image for the already feared, supposedly non-murderous, circus clowns to be associated with. During his crime time, 1972 – 1978, Gacy actively searched for homosexual young men and lured them into his home where he would then do what he was convicted for. Another tactic he used to get young men into his home was through posting jobs at his construction company. He would lure them to his house on the pretext of talking to them about a job. Once the boys got inside his home he would over power them, knock him unconscious and begin his gruesome modus operandi.
As it happened, not all of the boys who he killed were completely unloved;the dear old mum of one of those who failed to return from the clown’s clutches notified the police that Gacy’s house was where he was last said to be going, and because of his previous criminal offenses (attempted molestation – signal, anyone?) they started keeping a close watch on him. Gacy, in his usual bizarre behavior, invited the police in for coffee. The police accepted the invitation and once inside they became overwhelmed by a strong odor which they recognized as possibly coming from a decaying dead body. The police then obtained a search warrant and uncovered 29 bodies in the crawlspace of Gacy's house. The bodies were all male and ranged in age from nine years old to their mid-20s. Later Gacy admitted to more killings in which he dumped the bodies into a nearby river. In searching for all possible victims, the police excavated Gacy's yard and gutted the house, eventually tearing it completely down. Not exactly the most economic thing to do – could have easily been turned into a ‘haunted holiday house’ type of thing, and raised money for the community, enabling them to better the lives of all; but I suppose that would have been considered ‘insensitive’.
Personally, I think that he, becoming the serial killer than he is known for, is primarily a result of the environment that he grew up in. Yes, I know that the overly simplified ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ debate now states that they both have equal influences on the individual, but, after reading his ‘early life’ on wiki, it’s easy to see that events happened that would definitely have had a profound effect on his mentality. As a child, he was both overweight and nonathletic; meaning that he wouldn’t get social recognition from his peers, or, for that matter, his father – who was a WW1 veteran, who also happened to be an alcoholic and regularly beat, or ‘discipline’ Gacy. At the age of nine, Gacy was molested by a family friend; apparently, getting sexually abused at a young age ‘triggers’ something which makes that child more likely to grow up and become a child molester as well. I’m not too sure about the details on that, I just remember it from some psych lecture.
He was sentenced to death, under new guidelines that would make sure the penalty was not "cruel and unusual" and therefore within constitutional bounds. However, Gacy’s execution by lethal injection in 1994, which was supposed to be a procedure of 5 minutes ended up taking 18 minutes (planned?), and it was said that he was clearly struggling. He probably ended up suffering a cruel and unusual death, but then again, the person he turned out to be, shaped by society or by genetics, was a rather cruel and unusual one as well. Does that justify it? Who knows.