John Wayne Gacy Jr. was born on Saint Patrick's Day of 1942, the first son of two Irish parents. His older sister was named Joanne and his younger sister was named Karen. The family lived on the north side of Chicago, Illinois and all three children were sent to Catholic schools.
As a child, John worked a series of jobs, as well as being a participant in the local Boy Scouts. Among his jobs were newspaper routes and grocery store bag boy positions. John wasn't very popular in school, but he was liked by his teachers and coworkers.
When Gacy was eleven, he was on a swing set playing when a swing struck him on the head, causing a blood clot in his brain. This was not noticed until Gacy was sixteen, when he started having blackouts. The doctors prescribed a medication to dissolve the clot and the problem was resolved.
When Gacy was seventeen, he was diagnosed with a non-specific heart disorder. Gacy experienced chest pains on occasion throughout his life, but the doctors were never able to find a specific cause. He was hospitalized numerous times and often complained of the pain, but he was able to live just fine.
Although Gacy got along fine with his mother and sisters, his father was a different story. Gacy's father was an abusive alcoholic and frequently physically abused Gacy's mother. Gacy and his sisters were often subject to verbal abuse and, in spite of things, Gacy tried to get along with his father. Unfortunately, Gacy was never able to attain a close relationship with his father before he died and regretted it throughout his life.
Gacy dropped out of school his senior year and left for Las Vegas. He worked as a janitor in a funeral parlor, but was disappointed that he couldn't get a decent job. He eventually earned enough money to go back to Chicago and returned home to his delighted sisters and mother.
Gacy enrolled in a business school and graduated in the early 60s. There, he displayed his skills as a salesman and was hired by the Nunn-Bush Shoe Company. After being a management trainee for a while, he was given a management position at a men's clothing outlet in Springfield.
Despite Gacy's employment satisfaction, his physical health began to decline. He gained a lot of weight and his heart began to hurt more frequently. He was hospitalized a number of times, once for a spinal problem that caused him back problems.
Gacy worked fervently for several organizations, including the Federal Civil Defense, Chi Rho Club, and Jaycees. Gacy served the community very seriously and spent most of his free time working for the organizations. At one point, Gacy was even hospitalized for nervous exhaustion.
He met a co-worker named Marlynn Myers in 1964 and later married her. Her parents owned a string of KFC fast food restaurant franchises in Iowa and her father offered Gacy a position in one of them. Gacy accepted the job and they moved to Waterloo, Iowa. Gacy was very enthusiastic about the job and was often found working thirteen hours a day.
In Iowa, he became a member of the local Jaycees and campaigned for the position of president in the organization. His wife gave birth to a daughter and a son and the family lived happily. In the area, Gacy was well known as a supporter of the community and a hard worker.
However, rumors were spreading about Gacy being a homosexual. He was always surrounded by young boys and supposedly made passes at the ones that worked under him. In 1968, he as indicted for committing sodomy to a minor named Mark Miller. Miller told the court that Gacy tricked him into being tied up at Gacy's house and raped him. Gacy defended himself by saying that Miller willingly had sex with him for money and that Jaycee members against his campaign were trying to set him up.
A few months later, he was charged with hiring a man named Dwight Andersson to beat up Mark Miller. He offered three hundred dollars to Andersson to lure Miller to his car, drive him out of town, and spray mace in his eyes before beating him. However, Miller fought back, breaking Andersson's nose and running to safety. Andersson was arrested and told the police about Gacy hiring him.
Gacy was ordered to have a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he was competent to stand trial. Gacy was found to be antisocial, but competent to go to trial, pleading guilty to the sodomy charges. Gacy was given ten years at the Iowa State Reformatory and his wife divorced him. In prison, he was well-behaved and given parole after eighteen months. On June 18, 1970, Gacy was released and moved back to his hometown of Chicago.
Back in Chicago, Gacy moved in with his mother and got a job as a chef in a local restaurant. Gacy eventually bought his own house and shared the cost with his family. To his neighbors, he was friendly and often spending time with them. Gacy was charged with forcing a young man to perform sexual acts on him, but the accuser didn't show at the trial, causing all charges to be dropped.
In 1972, Gacy married a woman named Carole Hoff, who was aware of his crimes, yet believed he had changed. Carole had two daughters and they moved into Gacy's new home. The neighbors began to notice a terrible odor in the house, but Gacy blamed it on a moisture buildup in the crawlspace.
In 1974, he started a business called PDM Contractors, which performed painting and maintenance tasks. All of his employees were young teenage boys and Gacy justified it by saying that it kept costs down. However, Gacy was frequently attempting to seduce the boys and his homosexual desires slowly made Carole drift away from him.
By 1975, Gacy and his wife were no longer having sex and Gacy became very unpredictable. He would frequently have tantrums and throw things around the house. He was rarely home at night and Carole found magazines with naked men and boys laying around. Gacy admitted that he liked boys more than women and they divorced in 1976.
Gacy started taking on jobs as "Pogo the Clown" to entertain children and was given a job as secretary treasurer in the street lighting commission. Gacy continued to cause problems with his sexual advances, approaching a young boy named Tony Antonucci who fought his advances with a chair. A month later, Gacy attempted to handcuff the boy and undress him at his house, but the boy wrestled loose and handcuffed Gacy, making him promise that he would never touch him again.
Gacy began to cause more problems when boys that worked for him started disappearing. A number of his employees had gone missing before the police brought him in for questioning. Gacy denied any knowledge of the boys' whereabouts, but the police ran a background check and, finding the sodomy charges, obtained a search warrant for Gacy's house.
On December 13, 1978, the police entered his house and found plenty of incriminating evidence such as child pornography, handcuffs, rubber dildos, and ropes. After being unable to charge Gacy on anything other than drug possession, the police did some intense interrogations and began to discover that some of the evidence had belonged to the boys that disappeared. They questioned Gacy further, who admitted that he had killed someone in self-defense and buried them beneath his garage.
The police eventually found nearly thirty bodies on Gacy's property, as well as several other in nearby areas, such as the river. Police discovered a total of thirty-three bodies and Gacy's trial began on February 6, 1980. Gacy was found guilty after a short trial and sentenced to death by lethal injection. On May 10, 1994, after a failed appeal, he was executed, ending a criminal legacy that horrified the nation.