His house was a graveyard. His garage was a torture chamber. And his desire to kill was insatiable. So why did so many people hire him as a children’s clown?
Known by many as the “Killer Clown”, John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer who shocked the world with his gruesome crimes. Gacy killed 33 young men. He hid most of the bodies in the crawlspace of his house in suburban Chicago. The killings came as a surprise to his community, which saw him as an upstanding family man. He owned a successful construction business, hosted big parties at his house and performed as Pogo the Clown at hospitals. Gacy was meticulous and organized. That’s how he was able to hide his crimes for so long.
It’s hard to believe anyone could face this monster and live, but some lucky young men did. Today, we’ll see how they cheated death. How did one man lock Gacy in handcuffs? How did another victim track Gacy down? And how did the police finally catch him?
Number 3. A Young Monster
Is a person born evil? Or do they become evil? These are the questions David Bolton asks himself after surviving Gacy’s attack decades ago. In 1956, when David was nine or ten years old, he and his mother went to a resort in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. He met a teenager named John, who was about 16 years old and worked at the resort. Bolton recalls Gacy doing odd jobs and not having any friends there. David became his friend. Gacy said he had some time off and invited David to go on a boat with him.
He’d never been in a rowboat before, so Bolton agreed. They tied up the boat, and Gacy took David to some bushes.
What had started as a fun trip quickly became a nightmare. Gacy suddenly turned menacing, grabbed the boy by the shoulders and threatened to kill him. Then Gacy sexually abused Bolton. When remembering the incident, a distressed David finished by saying, “Thank god it was over quickly.
Number 2. The Wrestler
In July 1975, 15-year-old Anthony Antonucci was alone at home when John Gacy paid him a visit. Antonucci worked for Gacy’s contracting firm and had injured his foot days before. The killer brought some wine and claimed he just wanted to check on Anthony. After watching an adult movie, Gacy wrestled the teen to the ground and cuffed him. Gacy left the room for a moment. Antonucci managed to slip the right cuff off his wrist and prepared to attack back.
Anthony was on his school wrestling team and took Gacy down easily as soon as he returned. Antonucci kept him pinned to the ground and managed to cuff him. Gacy told him, “Not only are you the only one who got out of the cuffs, you got them on me. Antonucci thought it was some kind of test and eventually let Gacy go. Before we go to our number one story, let’s see what we can learn from these two survivors.
In “The Wrestler”, Anthony taught us that serial killers are not invincible. If you’re strong and know how to fight, it could help you escape. “A Young Monster” reminds us that we should never trust strangers, especially if we’re alone with them. David and Anthony were lucky to make it out alive. But another victim took things even further to make sure Gacy couldn’t attack anyone else.
Number 1. The Prey Becomes The Hunter
Jeffrey Rignall was 26 when John Wayne Gacy picked him up in March 1978. The killer offered Jeffrey some marijuana. Then Gacy covered Rignall’s face with a rag soaked in chloroform, making him unconscious. Rignall was driven to Gacy’s house, handcuffed and sexually attacked. Then Gacy dumped Rignall near the place he picked him up. Badly injured and with his face burned by the chloroform, Rignall went to the police.
But since he couldn’t remember details about the house, they wrote a short report and didn’t really investigate. Rignall claims that because he was a homosexual, the police ignored his case. What Rignall did remember was Gacy’s car and hearing airplanes during the assault. And he took it upon himself to find his attacker. Whenever he could, he staked out the area near the airport and found Gacy in less than a month.
Rignall pushed the case until the police arrested Gacy. But he easily got out on bond. Nine months after Rignall was attacked, the police were looking for a missing boy. They discovered human remains under Gacy’s house. The police arrested John Wayne Gacy and charged him with murdering 33 young men. The serial killer was convicted, sentenced to death and executed on May 10, 1994. His death brought peace to the victims’ families. But not all cases end up like this. Did they ever catch the Zodiac Killer? Or could he still be among us?
- “Patrick Dati Says He Survived Attack By Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy | ABC7 Chicago | Abc7chicago.Com“. 2022.
- “New Victim Of Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy Identified Using DNA“. 2021. The Guardian.
- “CBS 2 Vault: Serial Killer John Wayne Gacy Talks Exclusively With Walter Jacobson In 1992 Series Of Special Reports“. 2021. Cbsnews.Com.
- “John Wayne Gacy | Biography, Murders, Execution, & Facts”. 2022. Encyclopedia Britannica.
- “John Wayne Gacy: A Timeline Of The ‘Killer Clown’ Murders, Trial And Execution“. 2022. Biography.