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What drove “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy to murder and rape dozens?

John Wayne Gacy the Killer Clown
John Wayne Gacy loved to do community work and even had character called “Pogo the Clown”

The Killer Clown is a new documentary profiling the serial killer known as “The Killer Clown,” who raped and murdered over two dozen men and boys.

John Wayne Gacy was a notorious rapist and serial killer who is known to have murdered at least 33 people in the 1970s.

Gacy lured his victims to his Northwood Park ranch in Cook County, Illinois, where he’d then strangle them to death.

He became known as the “Killer Clown” due to the “Pogo the Clown” character that he used when he was carrying out charity events and doing kid’s parties.

Gacy targeted young men and teenage boys who he’d typically ply with alcohol until he gained their trust. Once back at his home Gacy would playfully suggest they put on some handcuffs, but once they did he’d attack them.

As well as raping his victims, often repeatedly, Gacy would also torture them with various instruments before finally chocking them to death with a rope or stuffing paper down their throats. He also used chloroform on some victims, bringing them in and out of consciousness to torture and rape them.

He told investigators that after his first killing he realised what an orgasmic experience it was to take someone’s life and this drove him to seek out more victims.

John Wayne Gacy mugshot
John Wayne Gacy was executed in 1994

He then buried the bodies in the crawl space beneath his home.

It was not until a chance event on December 11, 1978, that his luck in not being caught finally ran out. He’d spoken to a young man at the local pharmacy and offered him some work. The 15-year-old boy told his mother than Gacy wanted to speak to him, so when he then went missing the spotlight turned on Gacy.

The police began a surveillance operation that put Gacy under a lot of pressure and he made the mistake of inviting two of the detectives into his house. One of them noticed a smell he thought be that of a rotting body and shortly after they obtained a search warrant.

Once they found the bodies Gacy confessed and told the police that since 1972 he’d killed up to 30 boys and men.

In February 1980 Gacy was charged with 33 murders and in March a jury found him guilty of all the charges. He was handed a death sentence for each murder and after 14 years on death row he was executed on May 9, 1994.

One of the prosecutors at his trial remarked that Gacy “got a much easier death than any of his victims.”

But why did a man who had previously seemed sociable, community spirited and affable start a spree of killings that were remarkable for their brutality and sheer number?

The Killer Clown looks at the reasons why he might have started the killings and features interviews with people who knew him, investigators from the case, psychologists and other criminal experts.

The Killer Clown airs tonight at 8:00 PM in Investigation Discovery.


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