Criminal Minds Wiki

John Wayne Gacy

2,110pages on
this wiki
John Wayne Gacy
Name John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
Alias Pogo the Clown
The Killer Clown
Gender Male
Birth Date March 17, 1942
Place of Birth Chicago, IL
Date of Death May 10, 1994
Place of Death Crest Hill, IL
Job Numerous professions
Pathology Serial Killer
Serial Rapist
Modus Operandi Stabbing (first murder)
Asphyxiation (later)
Type Organized lust
No. of Victims 33+ killed
2 raped
Status Deceased (executed)

"The dead won't bother you, it's the living you have to worry about."

John Wayne Gacy, a.k.a. "The Killer Clown", was an American serial killer and rapist.



Gacy as Pogo the Clown.

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 left his family, heading west. After running out of money in Las Vegas, Nevada, he worked long enough to earn money to travel back home to Chicago. Without returning to high school, he enrolled in and eventually graduated from Northwestern Business College. 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 1964. 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 Piest who was last seen with Gacy, police had obtained a search warrant to search 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 on 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.

Modus OperandiEdit

According to Gacy's confession to the police, he would pick up Caucasian male runaways or male prostitutes in their mid-teens to 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.

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 off 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.

Known VictimsEdit


Twelve of Gacy's identified victims. From top to bottom:
John Butkovitch, 17
John Szyc, 19
Randall Reffett, 15
John Mowery, 19
Sam Stapleton, 14
Rick Johnson, 17
William Carroll, 16
Matthew Bowman, 19
Russell Nelson, 21
Darrell Sampson, 18
Gregory Godzik, 17
Robert Piest, 15

  • May 1968: Mark Miller, 16 (was tied up and forcibly sodomized, but not killed)
  • January 3, 1972: Timothy McCoy, 15 (stabbed four times in the chest with a kitchen knife)
  • January 1974: An unidentified victim, 14-18 (strangled)
  • July 29, 1975: John Butkovich, 17 (fatally strangled)
  • 1976:
    • April 6: Darrell Sampson, 18 (was raped and tortured, then killed)
    • May 14:
      • Randall Reffett, 15 (gagged with a cloth and died of subsequent asphyxiation)
      • Sam Stapleton, 14
    • June 3: Michael Bonnin, 17
    • June 13: William Carroll, 16 (raped, then strangled)
    • August 6: Rick Johnston, 17 (strangled)
    • October 24: An unidentified victim, 14
    • October 25: Kenneth Parker, 16 (strangled)
    • October 26: William Bundy, 19
    • December 12: Gregory Godzik, 17
  • 1977:
    • January 20: John Szyc, 19
    • March 15: Jon Prestidge, 20
    • July 5: Matthew Bowman, 19 (strangled with a piece of string)
    • September 15: Robert Gilroy, 18 (suffocated)
    • September 25: John Mowery, 19 (strangled)
    • October 17: Russell Nelson, 21 (suffocated)
    • November 10: Robert Winch, 16 (strangled)
    • November 18: Tommy Boling, 20 (strangled)
    • December 9: David Talsma, 19 (strangled with an unspecified ligature)
  • 1978:
    • February 16: William Kindred, 19
    • May 22: Jeffrey Ringall (drugged, raped, and tortured, but not killed)
    • June: Timothy O'Rourke, 20 (dumped his body in the Des Plaines River)
    • November 4: Frank Landingin, 19 (shoved his own underwear down his throat, choking him; dumped his body in the Des Plaines River)
    • November 24: James Mazzara, 21 (dumped his body in the Des Plaines River)
    • December 11: Robert Piest, 15 (crushed his neck with rope; dumped his body in the Des Plaines River)
  • At least six other additional unidentified victims:
    • A male who died between June 13-August 6, 1976, aged 22-30
    • A male who died between June 13-August 6, 1976, aged 15-19 (strangled)
    • A male who died between August 6-October 5, 1976, aged 17-21
    • A male who died between August 6-October 24, 1976, aged 21-27
    • A male who died between December 1976-March 15, 1977, aged 22-32
    • A male who died between March 15-July 5, 1977, aged 17-21

On Criminal Minds Edit

  • Season One:
  • Season Three:
    • "Damaged" - While Gacy wasn't mentioned in the episode, the team pursues a clown guilty of killing a young couple more than twenty years before. In one of the final scenes, behind Prentiss's head, a billboard section is shown, and the only letters visible are "GACY". The small detail is hard to catch, but subconsciously makes one think of the Gacy case.
  • Season Four:
    • "The Angel Maker" - Gacy prison paintings are brought up by Garcia, who is combing through websites known for selling serial killer memorabilia and becomes disturbed by clown paintings Gacy made on death row.
    • "Conflicted" - While Gacy wasn't mentioned or referenced in the episode, he seems to have been the inspiration for Adam Jackson, the episode's unsub. Both were abused by their fathers and had the same victimology (teenage boys and young men), who they would lure, rape, and kill by asphyxiation. Also, the scenario of Adam's split personality committing his murders is an allusion to Gacy's claim that he had a split personality who was responsible for killing his victims.
  • Season Five:
  • Season Seven:
    • "Profiling 101" - Gacy's mugshot is among many mugshots featured in a montage shown by the BAU during a special guest-lecture to a Criminology class.
    • "Foundation" - While Gacy wasn't mentioned or referenced in the episode, J.B. Allen, the episode's unsub, appears to have been based on Gacy. Both were serial killers and rapists who owned construction companies, which they used in some way to entice their victims (Gacy offered his victims jobs at his, Allen would approach boys who watched the construction work at his), and both also buried their victims on some property they owned.
  • Season Eleven:
  • Novels:
    • Killer Profile - Copycat Daniel Dryden partially mimicked Gacy for one is his murders, and disposed of the victim in Gacy's abandoned house, where an employee of the gas company discovered it.

Notes Edit

  • In 2012, one of Gacy's victims, Michael Marino, who was originally identified by dental records, turned out to have been misidentified when a DNA test was run. As such, another one of Gacy's victims is unidentified.


Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki