Clowning Around

John Wayne Gacy 

by Kiana McDonough

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John Wayne Gacy was born March 17th, 1942 in a blue collar neighborhood. He had a very strict father. He also had two sisters, Karen and Joanne. Gacy’s father had higher expectations for John, as he was the only son. John would rather garden with his mother or cook with his sisters instead of fishing or climbing trees like the other boys. 

John Gacy Sr. (his father) would often humiliate his son in front of other children, referring to him as a “sissy.” Young Gacy wanted to get along and play with the other children to live up to his father’s’ expectations, but an enlarged heart condition halted him from doing so. He would constantly pass out due to his defect. His father had no sympathy for his condition and thought of it as another excuse as to why his son was a failure. 

In his adulthood, Gacy found a passion for dressing up as “Pogo the Clown” and performed at charitable events and childrens’ parties. In September of 1964, Gacy met and married his wife Marlynn Myers. Gacy and his wife had two children. 

One evening when Marlynne and his son were out, Gacy invited 15-year-old Donald Voorhees over,.  He met Vorhees through a local club, the Jaycees. Gacy then sexually assaulted Voorhees. He told the young boy it was part of a science experiment., He paid him $50, and to ensure his silence, threatened he had mob ties back home . 

A couple years later, in 1968, Vorhees told his father and police about his disturbing encounter with John Wayne Gacy. Donald Voorhees would later be known as Gacy’s first assault victim. Gacy was arrested and sentenced for 10 years in the Iowa State Reformatory for Men at Anamosa. He only served 16 months of his 10 year sentence and was released on good behavior. 

January 2nd, 1972, was a turning point in Gacy’s progress. He returned to his old ways and picked up a 16 year old outside of a train station. Gacy, like he had done with Voorhees, got the victim drunk and assaulted the minor, resulting in Gacy’s first murder. He buried the  boy in the crawl space underneath his house. Three years later, Gacy killed another young male and buried him in the same spot.

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Gacy killed 33 young men in total and confessed to 23 of the murders. Gacy joked as police were booking his arrest in 1978 and claims he was “born in a state of confusion.” He also told police that he had multiple personality disorder, and consequently shouldn’t be held accountable. 

He was sentenced to death by lethal injection on May 10th, 1994. Medical Examiner, Dr. Morrison performed an autopsy on John Wayne Gacy and found no biological evidence Gacy was mentally insane.

The question will always be: was Gacy born to kill or was it something in his childhood that made him angry and want to hurt young boys like his father hurt him? Observing his father beat both his mom and himself, he used his learned violence as a means to hide the fact that he was a homosexual male. Rather than just accepting it, Gacy fought his feelings, which manifested as acts of violence. Perhaps something in Gacy’s brain set him off forever, and it may be something we will never figure out, or understand.

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