John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (March 17, 1942 – May 10, 1994) was an American serial killer.
Between 1972 and 1978, the year he was arrested, Gacy raped and murdered at least 33 young men and boys, mostly teenagers. Although some of his victims' bodies were found in the Des Plaines River, he buried 26 of them in the small crawl space underneath the basement of his home and three more elsewhere on his property. He became known as "Killer Clown" because of the popular block parties he would throw for his friends and neighbors, entertaining children in a clown suit and makeup as "Pogo the Clown."
On February 6, 1980, Gacy's trial began in Chicago. During the trial, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. However, this plea was rejected outright; Gacy's lawyer, Sam Amirante, said that Gacy had moments of temporary insanity at the time of each individual murder, but regained his sanity before and after to lure and dispose of victims.
Gacy spent the next 14 years studying books on law and filing numerous and exhaustive appeals and motions, all unsuccessful. While awaiting execution, Gacy was interviewed by Robert Ressler as the centerpiece of a documentary about his crimes. The transcripts were published in Ressler's book, I Have Lived In The Monster. Gacy, at one point, claimed that one of them was killed in self defense.
On May 10, 1994, Gacy was executed at Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill, Illinois, by lethal injection. His execution was covered by the media, and crowds of people gathered for "execution parties" outside the penitentiary, with numerous arrests for public intoxication, open container violations, and disorderly conduct. Vendors sold Gacy-related T-shirts and other merchandise, and the crowd cheered at the moment when Gacy was pronounced dead.
According to reports, Gacy did not express remorse for his crimes. His last words to his lawyer in his cell were to the effect that killing him would not bring anyone back, and it is reported his last words were "kiss my ass," which he said to a correctional officer while he was being sent to the execution chamber.
Before the execution began, the lethal chemicals unexpectedly solidified, clogging the IV tube that led into Gacy's arm, and prevented any further passage. Blinds covering the window through which witnesses observed the execution were drawn, and the execution team replaced the clogged tube with a new one. Ten minutes later, the blinds were reopened and the execution resumed. It took 18 minutes to complete. Anesthesiologists blamed the problem on the inexperience of prison officials who were conducting the execution, saying that proper procedures taught in "IV 101" would have prevented the error. This apparently led to Illinois' adoption of a different method of lethal injection. On this subject, one of the prosecutors at Gacy's trial, William Kunkle, said, "He still got a much easier death than any of his victims."
After his execution, Gacy's brain was removed. It is in the possession of Dr. Helen Morrison, a witness for the defense at Gacy's trial, who interviewed Gacy and other serial killers in an attempt to isolate common personality traits of violent sociopaths. Examination of Gacy's brain after his execution by the forensic psychiatrist hired by his lawyers revealed no abnormalities.