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John Wayne Gacy, sometimes known as the “Killer Clown”. He was from Chicago Illinois, born on March 17, 1942 the son of his Danish and Polish parents. Him and his siblings grew up with an alcoholic father who beat them with a razor strap if he thought they were misbehaving and to top that off, his father would also physically assault Gacy’s mother. Gacy would also suffer further alienation at school, unable to play with the other kids because he suffered congenital heart condition, which his father would look at him as a disappointment. Going through all of this he later realized he was attracted to men, and would get beat up and bullied over his sexuality.

When he first started assaulting, which was in 1968, he was convicted of sexually assaulting two teen boys and given a 10 year prison sentence. Later being released on parole in the summer of 1970, but then again getting arrested the next year after another teen accused Gacy of sexually assaulting him, but then the charges were later dropped for the boy not showing up for trial. Being a clown person he would dress up as a clown to lure more teens to his house, he also told the police that “clowns can get away with murder”. The middle of 1970s, two more young males accused him of rape, then the police later questioned him about the disappereance of others. Gacy would call these times his “cruising years”, when he would commit most of his murders. His house where he would do most of his killings, he had his home outfitted with a trap door leading to a crawl space beneath the house, where he would dispose of many of his victim’s bodies. Many of the bodies were also dumped in the nearby Des Plaines River and buried in his backyard. He typically induced his victims to his house by force or deception, and all except one his victims were murdered by either asphyxiation or strangulation with his makeshift garrote, as his first victim, 16 year old Timothy McCoy was stabbed to death.

Looking at Gacy, and looking at why he did what he did. The first necessary cause could’ve been his abusive father and being bullied for his sexuality. Being bullied can lead to a lot of violent acts by the person who is being bullied, maybe not then and there, but in the future. “A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied”(US Department of Health and Human Services). Gacy was not a shooter, but because of being bullied he had no remorse for others. 

Monster Theory 2 helps us understand this monstrosity by  “the monster always escapes”(Cohen 4). Gacy, with his first offense which occurred in 1967, he was convicted of sexually assaulting two teenage boys. Being caught assaulting those boys he received a 10 year prison sentence.While in prison, Gacy was a very nice guy and he made friends with many of the inmates, many of them would often say he was a “ideal prisoner”. He was later released on parole only after 18 months of being in jail for his excellent behavior. Looking back at Monster Theory 4 “the monster always escapes”, looking at Gacy he dodged a bullet and gets to see the light again. When released that’s when the real Gacy was being let out, he remarried and made his set up at his house to bring in more little boys. No one would suspect Gacy to perform such horrible acts, as his neighbors saw him as a genuine person who was hardworking family man. Many didn’t know that he had a non existent sex life life, disinterest in his marriage, heavy loss of sleep, and later divorced her. 

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In 1972, while being dressed up as a clown for his acts he was known as either “Pogo” or “Patches” and this is when it all started. Gacy lured poor Timothy McCoy to his house and stabbed him to death. He began to notice that as a clown he can use it to his advantage. After beginning to feel the adrenaline in killing his first person, people believe they are to repeat what they have felt. That feeling is called the “Macbeth effect”. “The Macbeth effect, which incites the murder to commit further acts of violence in a bid to reclaim normality. Trapped in the logic of extreme violence, he has reached a point of no return.”(Cotter). With this, Gacy was to feel that he needed to continue his killing ways and lure youngs boys to his home. Therefore, because of the Macbeth effect this was Gacy’s next necessary cause.

Monster Theory 6 Fear of The Monster Is Really a Kind of Desire helps us understand this monstrosity by showing us that “the monster also attracts”. You can compare this to John Wayne Gacy because he would attract the young boys being dressed up as a clown. Others clowns noted that he painted a smile with sharp edges rather than the rounded ones everyone else does. They say they avoid the sharp edges because it’s said that it scares the children. Also Gacy had gone into business for himself as a professional contactor, undercutting competitors by hiring very young male workers who’d willingly accept low wages. His “handcuff trick” was nothing other than putting handcuffs on the person and would often stuff their own underwear down their throats to muffle their screams. This is why most of his captives died of asphyxiation. He mostly would do his so called “Rope Trick” which involved wrapping a noose around his prey’s neck and insert a stick into the rope tourniquet-style, twisting it round and round until they choked to death, according to the article “John Wayne Gacy: The Killer Clown Who Buried Boys Under Floorboards” by Jim Goad. Later being driven mad by the pressure, Gacy finally confessed everything to his lawyer. On December 21, 1978, he was arrested and charged for murder. After 14 years behind bars, Gacy was finally executed by lethal injection. Gacy’s last three words were “Kiss My Ass”.

Claiming to his lawyers that he had “Multiple Personality Disorder (MDP)”, this was his reciprocal cause. It’s thought to be a complex psychological condition that is likely caused by many factors, including severe trauma during early childhood. Claiming when he was killing them he felt that “he was a different person”(Schikdkraut 18). From his so called two personalities maybe this is what led this capture. He confessed to his lawyer because he was getting too pressured which led to his capture. One personality he’s a straight killer and the next he’s this regular guy who is a contractor who is religious.

In conclusion, the three main causes leading to his killing ways was his abusive father who would physically hit him and his siblings for doing one little thing wrong and being bullied by classmates for liking both guys and women. Secondly, was the way he would think, because of the Macbeth effect. After his first feel of the adrenaline when killing, nothing was going to stop him from repeating that cycle. Lastly, was claiming to have multiple personality disorder when killing every young boy. Claiming that he felt like he was a different person when he was physically assaulting and raping these young boys. This matters to both you and I because of a tough childhood one good person can turn into a monster. Not only a tough childhood, but a terrible justice system letting out Gacy in the first place. 

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Work Cited

PhDFollowFormateur, Philippe Cotter, and Philippe Cotter PhDFormateur. “60 SECONDS • Why Serial Killers Enjoy Killing.” LinkedIn,

Goad, Jim, et al. “John Wayne Gacy: The Killer Clown Who Buried Boys Under Floorboards.” Thought Catalog, 31 Aug. 2018,

“Effects of Bullying.”,

“The Criminology Dissection of Pogo the Clown”

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