Updated on September 20, 2021
John Wayne Gacy
The Case of John W. Gacy
John Wayne Gacy, also known as Pogo the clown or Pogo the Widower, was a prolific Chicago serial killer and sexual abuser of children who worked with him in the local children’s hospital. Gacy frequently performed at children’s hospitals and other charitable gatherings as “Pogo the clown” or “patches the clown”. His victims were mainly children whom he lured to his office with words of candy and small presents. He would then have sex with these children while performing the surgical procedure on them.
Gacy frequently visited the Chicago area on business or pleasure, frequently visiting friends and family members and on several occasions, driving his vehicle down Chicago’s highways. On the morning of April 7, 1972, police discovered the decomposed body of a man near the Kankakee River. The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy and found that this man died of drowning as a result of a drowning accident. Police theorized that the body was placed there by Gacy due to the nature of his business with the children. The circumstances surrounding the discovery of Gacy’s body were puzzling to say the least. Police theorized that the body was initially wrapped in garbage before being dragged into the crawl space of his home.
Neighbors reported hearing a loud noise coming from the house the night before. Police were not able to find any evidence linking Gacy to the crime. Gacy was however arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree sexual abuse stemming from the allegations that he had seduced and inappropriately touch young boys while working at the hospital. Gacy maintained his innocence throughout the trial and after the verdict was announced he was executed in Deptford, Connecticut.
Pogo is not the only famous clown to have a strange death. Bill Plympton, a popular amusement park clown was found dead in his car in 1940. He had been playing with other neighborhood children when he was strangled with his dog’s leash. Neighbors heard a vicious argument come from inside the car and then found Plympton’s body lying on the ground.
John Wayne Gacy is the most prolific serial killer in American history. He is thought to be responsible for the deaths of more than thirty thousand people over his two-term presidency. He was convicted of the murders of most of the victims in Chicago. A massive search failed to uncover any conclusive evidence tying Gacy to the crime. He was though to be responsible for at least some of these deaths though.
It wasn’t until much later that police investigator Harry Hermoses found one of Gacy’s victims buried in a dumpster behind a restaurant. The victim’s blood stained the floor and the body had signs of hanging and strangulation. A search of the surrounding area failed to turn up any other bodies or signs of serial killing and so Hermoses and his partner, John McKnight, were unable to find a concrete link between Gacy and the crime.
A year later, however, another body was found in the same dumpster. This time, however, the victim asphyxiated with cocaine in his system. This discovery eventually led authorities to John W. Gacy, who by this point had become the principal suspect in the murders. They arrested him on suspicion of being a direct participant in all three of the Chicago victims.
Gacy spent thirty-two years in prison for his crimes, many of which were for multiple murders. He is the only person to be tried for serial murder in Chicago. He is, also, the only one of the Chicago serial killers to have been tried for the murders that took place in the city of Chicago during his presidency. He is, also, the only one of the Chicago serial killers to have received the death penalty, although he escaped from the electric chair in early May of this year. While many people believe John W. Gacy to be the most prolific serial killer in history, others are not as quick to judge.
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