‘Killer Clown’ with ‘multiple personas’ who brutally raped and murdered 33 men
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One of the world's most fearsome serial killers was a children's clown with "multiple personas".
John Wayne Gacy, born on this day (March 17) in 1942, brutally murdered at least 33 young men in his home in Norwood Park Township, a suburb of Chicago, US, trapping most of his victims by putting them in handcuffs under the guise of performing a magic trick.
The brutal killer also raped and tortured his unwitting victims before strangling them to death.
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But although he managed to get away with dozens of killings, the warning signs about Gacy were there long before he committed his first murder.
Gacy's first criminal conviction was in 1968 when he was found guilty of sodomising two young boys – 15-year-old Donald Voorhees Jr, the son of a local politician, and 16-year-old Edward Lynch.
He was handed a 10-year prison sentence, of which he only served 18 months thanks to his reputation as a model prisoner. Upon his release, he was required to move back to Chicago with his mother and given a 10pm curfew.
Just months after he was released, a series of charges were brought against him for sexual assault of two more young boys, but both of these were quickly dropped.
In the early 1970s, Gacy became aware of a "Jolly Joker" clown club, which saw members perform at fundraising events and parades and volunteer entertaining children in hospital.
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Gacy became involved in the club in 1975 and developed the alter egos Pogo and Patches the Clown. He described Pogo as the "happy" clown while Patches was more "serious".
Most of his clowning was unpaid and he later explained the personas allowed him to "regress into childhood".
At the same time, the killer had founded a part-time construction business, PDM Contractors, which mostly hired high school students and young men.
It was later learned Gacy would often proposition his employees for sex, or insist they perform sex acts in return for favours, promotions or money.
He also claimed to own guns and reportedly once told an employee: "Do you know how easy it would be to get one of my guns and kill you, and how easy it would be to get rid of the body?"
Several employees were raped by Gacy, with at least two attempting to fight back. Some of his eventual murder victims were employees, while others were either taken by force or tricked into entering his house.
His first murder took place in 1972. He would usually target one victim at a time, although on several occasions he had what he called "doubles", meaning two murders in one night.
He would usually ply his victims with alcohol or drugs before producing a pair of handcuffs to "perform a magic trick" on them, sometimes as part of a clown routine.
He would then rape and torture his victim before strangling them. Sometimes he would nearly drown them in a bathtub before reviving them as part of a lengthy torture routine.
Complaints by worried parents of Gacy's victims began shortly after his murder spree started, but it wasn't until 1977 that police finally started taking the concerns seriously. In that time, Gacy had murdered at least 33 people.
He was finally brought before a court on February 6, 1980, and was found guilty of 33 charges of murder and sexual assault and taking indecent liberties with a child.
At the time, it was the highest number of murder charges any one person had been convicted of in US history.
Gacy sat on Death Row for 14 years before being executed on May 10, 1994, by lethal injection.
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- Killer Clown
- Serial Killers
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