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john wayne gacy

John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer who murdered 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978 in Chicago, Illinois. He was also known as the “Killer Clown” because he often wore a clown costume to entertain children at hospitals and charity events.

Gacy was born in Chicago on March 17, 1942. He had a troubled childhood, and he was often abused by his father. He also showed signs of mental instability at a young age.

In 1964, Gacy married Marlynn Myers. The couple had two children, Michael and Christopher. However, Gacy’s marriage was unhappy, and he began to have affairs with other men. In 1968, Gacy was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years in prison. He was released from prison in 1971.

After his release from prison, Gacy started a construction company. He also volunteered as a clown at local hospitals and charity events. Gacy began his killing spree in 1972. His victims were all young men and boys, and he would often lure them to his home with the promise of a job or a place to stay. Once they were at his home, Gacy would strangle them to death and then bury their bodies in the crawl space under his house.

John Wayne Gacy was caught after the disappearance of 15-year-old Robert Piest in December 1978. Piest was a part-time employee at a pharmacy in Des Plaines, Illinois, where Gacy was a regular customer. On the day of Piest’s disappearance, he told his co-workers that he was going to speak to Gacy about a possible job opportunity.

When Piest failed to return to work, his co-workers contacted his mother, who reported him missing to the police. The police quickly focused their investigation on Gacy, who had been seen talking to Piest on the day of his disappearance.

On December 21, 1978, the police executed a search warrant at Gacy’s home. During the search, they found a receipt from the pharmacy in Piest’s name. They also found a pair of Piest’s shoes in the crawl space under Gacy’s house.

Gacy was arrested and charged with Piest’s murder. While in custody, he confessed to killing Piest and 32 other young men. He also led the police to the bodies of his victims, which were buried in the crawl space under his house and in the Des Plaines River.

Motivations of a Serial Killer

John Wayne Gacy was a serial killer who murdered at least 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978. He was also a successful businessman and politician, which made his crimes even more shocking.

Gacy’s motivation for killing is still not fully understood, but there are a few theories. Some experts believe that he was sexually attracted to young men and boys, and that he killed them in order to satisfy his urges. Another theory is that Gacy was a psychopath. Psychopaths are often characterized by a lack of empathy, remorse, and conscience. They may also have a need for power and control. Gacy’s behavior fits these characteristics, and he may have killed his victims in order to feel powerful and in control.

Whatever his motivation, Gacy’s crimes were horrific and senseless. He was sentenced to death in 1980 and executed in 1994.

Here are some additional details about Gacy’s crimes:

  • He lured his victims to his home by offering them money or work.
  • He would then strangle them to death and dispose of their bodies in various ways, including burying them in his crawlspace, dumping them in the river, or dissolving them in acid.
  • He was eventually caught after one of his victims escaped and went to the police.
  • Gacy confessed to the murders and was sentenced to death.
  • He was executed by lethal injection in 1994.


Gacy’s crimes are a reminder of the evil that can exist in the world. It is important to be aware of the dangers that exist and to take steps to protect ourselves. If you are ever in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, it is important to trust your instincts and get help.

Scary Clown Lore

There have been elements of fear and unease surrounding clowns since long before John Wayne Gacy became known as the “Killer Clown” in the 1970s. In fact, the earliest recorded instance of a clown being portrayed as a villain dates back to the 16th century, when the character of Punch was created. Punch is a violent and chaotic character who is often seen as a symbol of chaos and disorder.

In the 19th century, the character of the clown began to evolve into a more lighthearted and comedic figure. However, even during this time, there were still elements of fear and unease associated with clowns. For example, the character of the “gypsy fortune teller” was often portrayed as a clown, and these characters were often seen as being associated with deception and danger.

In the 20th century, the clown began to take on a more sinister image. This was due in part to the work of horror writers and filmmakers, such as Stephen King and Tim Burton, who often used clowns as villains in their stories. Additionally, the rise of serial killers such as John Wayne Gacy and Pogo the Clown further contributed to the association of clowns with fear and violence.

Today, the image of the clown is still somewhat ambiguous. While many people still see clowns as being fun and lighthearted, there is still a lingering sense of unease and fear surrounding them. This is likely due to the long history of clowns being portrayed as both positive and negative figures. As a result, clowns continue to be a source of both amusement and fear for many people.

Pennywise vs. Pogo the Killer Clown

Pennywise, the clown from Stephen King’s novel “It,” and John Wayne Gacy, the real-life serial killer known as the “Killer Clown,” have several similarities. Both are clowns who prey on children, and both have a dark and twisted side.

Pennywise is an ancient evil entity that takes the form of a clown. He terrorizes the town of Derry, Maine, every 27 years by luring children to their deaths. He is known for his shapeshifting abilities, his sadistic sense of humor, and his ability to control the minds of his victims.

John Wayne Gacy was a successful businessman and community leader who also moonlighted as a clown named Pogo. He murdered 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978. He buried most of his victims in the crawlspace of his home. Gacy was known for his charming personality and his ability to gain the trust of his victims.

Both Pennywise and John Wayne Gacy are masters of disguise. They use their clown personas to gain the trust of their victims, and then they strike. They are both also incredibly sadistic and enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on their victims.

The similarities between Pennywise and John Wayne Gacy are not just superficial. Both represent the dark side of childhood. Pennywise is a reminder of the fear and anxiety that many children experience, while John Wayne Gacy is a reminder of the dangers that can lurk in even the most seemingly safe places.

Both Pennywise and John Wayne Gacy are also symbols of the power of fear. They are able to control their victims by using fear to manipulate them. This is a powerful reminder of the importance of facing our fears and not letting them control us.

The similarities between Pennywise and John Wayne Gacy are both unsettling and thought-provoking. They remind us of the dark side of human nature, and they challenge us to confront our fears.

Influenced or Coincidence?

Stephen King has never explicitly stated that Pennywise, the clown from his novel “It,” was inspired by John Wayne Gacy. However, there are several similarities between the two characters.

King was writing “It” in the late 1970s, when Gacy’s crimes were still fresh in the public’s mind. It is possible that King was at least subconsciously influenced by Gacy when he created Pennywise.

However, it is also possible that the similarities between Pennywise and Gacy are simply coincidental. After all, clowns have been associated with evil for centuries. It is possible that King simply drew on this existing archetype when he created Pennywise.

However, it is important to remember that not all clowns are evil. There are many kind and gentle clowns who simply enjoy making people laugh. If you are afraid of clowns, it is important to remember that they are not all dangerous. There are many ways to overcome your fear, such as exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy.

Here are some tips for overcoming your fear of clowns:

  • Gradually expose yourself to clowns. Start by watching videos or reading stories about clowns. Then, gradually expose yourself to real clowns in a safe environment, such as a circus or a children’s party.
  • Challenge your negative thoughts about clowns. When you have a negative thought about clowns, such as “They’re all dangerous,” challenge it. Ask yourself if there is any evidence to support your thought.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. When you feel anxious around clowns, practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation. This will help you to calm down and feel more in control.


If you are struggling to overcome your fear of clowns on your own, it is important to seek professional help. A therapist can help you to understand your fear and develop strategies for coping with it.

Self-Defense Tips against the Killer Clown

John Wayne Gacy would often use a “handcuff trick” to lure his victims into a false sense of security before attacking them.

Gacy would typically handcuff his own hands behind his back, then surreptitiously release himself with the key which he hid between his fingers. He would then offer to show his intended victim how to release himself from the handcuffs. With his victim manacled and unable to free himself, Gacy would then make a statement to the effect that “The trick is, you have to have the key.”

Gacy used this trick to gain control over his victims and make them feel helpless. He would then proceed to rape and murder them. Gacy’s “handcuff trick” is a chilling example of his cunning and manipulative nature. It is also a reminder of the dangers of trusting strangers.

Here are some self-defense tips that could have helped prevent someone from being a victim of a serial killer like John Wayne Gacy:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. If you are approached by someone you do not know, be aware of where you are and who is around you. If you feel uncomfortable, do not hesitate to walk away.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to say no to someone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • Never go anywhere alone with someone you do not know. If you must go somewhere with someone you do not know, let someone know where you are going and when you expect to be back.
  • Carry a personal safety device. A personal safety device such as pepper spray or a stun gun can be used to deter or stop an attacker.
  • If you are attacked, scream and fight back. The more noise you make, the more likely someone will hear you and come to your aid. You may also be able to injure your attacker enough to escape.


Jeffrey Rignall was a 16-year-old boy who was hitchhiking in Chicago in 1978 when he was picked up by John Wayne Gacy. Gacy took Rignall to his house, where he drugged and assaulted him. Rignall was able to escape and report the attack to the police. His testimony was instrumental in Gacy’s conviction and eventual execution, along with the investigation of Robert Piest’s disappearance.

Rignall’s story is a harrowing one, but it is also a story of survival. He was able to overcome the trauma of his attack and go on to live a full and productive life. He is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

In 1998, Rignall wrote a book about his experience called “29 Below: An Encounter with John Wayne Gacy.” The book was a critical and commercial success, and it helped to raise awareness of Gacy’s crimes. Rignall died in 2000 at the age of 49. He is survived by his wife and two children. His story is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there is always hope.

It is important to remember that there is no surefire way to avoid being attacked by a serial killer. However, by following these tips, you can increase your chances of staying safe.

Here are some additional tips for staying safe from serial killers:

  • Be aware of the signs of a potential predator. Predators often target people who are vulnerable, such as those who are alone, intoxicated, or have a disability.
  • If you are approached by a stranger, be polite but firm. Do not give out any personal information, such as your name, address, or phone number.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable, it is okay to say no and walk away.
  • Report any suspicious activity to the police. Even if you are not sure if something is wrong, it is always better to err on the side of caution.


It is also important to remember that serial killers are often very good at choosing their victims. They may target people who are vulnerable or isolated, or who they believe will be easy to overpower. If you are aware of the risks and take steps to protect yourself, you can help to reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a crime.

There is no way of knowing if pepper spray or stun guns may have prevented any of Gacy’s murders if self-defense weapons were popular in the late 1970s, but they certainly would not have hurt people’s chances.

As always, be safe and be prepared.


See More of our Serial Killer Profile series:

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