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The site of Gacy's home in Des Plaines, Ill., where Gacy buried the bodies of 28 of the known 33 teenage boys he murdered. (Gacy's home on this site was leveled by the authorities following the discovery of the mass graves beneath it.)
Serial killer John Wayne Gacy was a born salesman with a natural charm. Kids loved him, parents trusted him, First Lady Rosalyn Carter posed in a picture with him. All the while, over a seven-year period, he sexually assaulted and murdered 33 teenage boys and young men, burying 28 of them under his house and garage in a Chicago suburb.
by David Lohr
Not many people who knew him would have suspected that John Wayne Gacy, a respected member of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in Des Plaines, Ill., a performing clown at neighborhood children's parties, a precinct captain in the local Democratic party, and the owner of his own contracting business would come to be known as one of the most prolific serial killers in U.S. history.
Nor would his childhood in any particular way set off red flags that a monster was in the making. Gacy, a middle child, was born in Chicago in 1942 into a blue-collar family. He had two sisters, one two years older and the other two years younger. According to the book Killer Clown, by Terry Sullivan and Peter Maiken, Gacy seemed to have a regular childhood with the exception of his turbulent relationship with his father, John Wayne Gacy Sr. The authors describe the father as an unpleasant, abusive alcoholic prone to physically and verbally assaulting his children. The authors describe Gacy as deeply loving his father and wanting desperately to gain his approval and attention, but failing to win him over.