Martin Pazos

The Story of John Wayne Gacy, the ‘Killer Clown’: He Killed 33 Children, Buried Them in His Basement, and Inspired ‘It’

John Wayne Gacy he was one of the worst serial killers in the history of the United States: raped and killed 33 young men between 1972 and 1976. During this period, the man not only maintained a good social reputation, but even flirted with politics.

This week, Netflix presented Conversations with a Killer: The Recordings of John Wayne Gacy. The documentary examines 60 hours of conversation the notorious American criminal had with police in Iowa, Des Moines, the city where he committed the murders. The production also shows the lives of the victims and contains the testimonies of their family and friends.

Who is John Wayne Gacy, the “killer clown”?

John Wayne Gacy was born on March 17, 1942 in Illinois, Chicago, the son of Danish and Polish parents. Her childhood was marked by abuse and violence from her alcoholic and violent father.

The image of when John Wayne Gacy was arrested. (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

His professional career was long. When he was 18, he worked in a revival center and it was there that he began to have a certain fascination with death. According to a profile of his life published by the newspaper the vanguardWhen his boss wasn’t around, Gacy would put the youngest in the caskets to fondle the bodies that were being prepared for the funeral service.

Over time, Gacy worked as a shoe salesman and eventually joined the KFC fast food chain, where he became a manager. From there, he unfolds a social life that places him among the most respected neighbors in his neighborhood. According to what Biography cites, he was a member of the Jolly Joker clown club, a group with which he dressed as Pogo to host children’s parties that had the superficial purpose of raising funds.

John Wayne Gacy dressed as "pogo the clown" kidnap boys and then kill them.  (Photo: Chicago Tribune)
John Wayne Gacy disguised himself as “Pogo the Clown” to kidnap children and then kill them. (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

But Gacy had another point to address these social gatherings. His dark objective was to hunt down different children or teenagers, all boys, whom he tortured, raped and, ultimately, killed. He strangled most of them with his bare hands or with a rope. He always used the same modus operandi.

How they discovered the crimes of “Pogo, the clown”

From what the newspaper investigated The ChicagoTribune, the crimes began to be uncovered in 1975, when residents of the Uptown neighborhood turned to police to report that a man who called himself John was driving through the area with a car that brought in young boys. That year began a follow-up by Gacy’s agents which only revealed in 1978 the aberrations in which he starred.

On December 21, 1978, while he was in police custody, John Wayne Gacy confessed to his lawyer about a series of crimes. Officers discovered a body buried in the garage of his home. Then there were three more. “Gacy makes all kinds of statements, saying there’s a body here, a body there, a body in a lake or a pond, a body buried,” Cook County Sheriff Richard Elrod said. almost stunned, according to the Chicago Media Chronicle.

When John Wayne Gacy was sentenced to death.  (Photo: Chicago Tribune)
When John Wayne Gacy was sentenced to death. (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

Gacy’s confession is one of the worst serial killer stories in living memory. He admitted to burying 27 victims on his property, although there were 29, while the other four he dumped in different rivers south of Chicago. The criminal drew a diagram for the agents so they could find each body.

“Certainly, the case of John Wayne Gacy is punishable by death. If not, who would be eligible? asked Cook State Attorney Bernard Carey rhetorically when he presented the request, which was finally accepted by the courts. In less than two hours, The jury found “Pogo the Clown” guilty..

After years of calls, back and forth with his lawyers and fights between the families of the victims at different judicial levels, on May 10, 1994, John Wayne Gacy was executed. His last meal included fried chicken, which he sold when he worked at KFC.

The similarity between “Pogo, the clown” and Pennywise, from “It”

“There must have been some kind of horrible, disgusting, disgusting creature that would make you scream just by looking at it. So I thought about what scares boys more than anything. The answer was: clowns!

The phrase resonated on the stage of a Hamburg theater in 2013 where, with great humor, Stephen King recounts the genesis of Article, one of his most important works. In this one, the most visible monster is penny wisea malevolent clown who lives in the sewers of the city of Derry and kills children.

Although the writer never said he was based on a real person, there was a murderer with very similar characteristics to Pennywise who also used a harlequin costume and painted his face to trick boys, kill them and even rape them. John Wayne Gacy left a trail of 33 victims, 29 of them buried in the basement of his Chicago home where, for many afternoons, he put himself in the shoes of “Pogo, the Clown”.

The novel “It” was a success

King published the novel It in 1986 and it quickly became a popular phenomenon. The book was preceded by a long list of commercial successes in the horror genre drawn from the head of the same author: Carrie, Salem’s Lot, The Shining, The Stand, The Dead Zone, Cujo, Pet Sematary, Christine, among others. The vast majority of these plots have also become fiction films.

One of many editions of the book "Article" by Stephen King.  (Photo: Amazon)
One of many editions of Stephen King’s “It” book. (Photo: Amazon)

When King visited the Conan O’Brien show in 2005, he revealed one of the more unusual stories related to his animosity towards clowns. The novelist recalled what happened to him while he was on a promotional tour for one of his literary works and was flying on a plane. “The door opened and suddenly Ronald McDonald appeared. He was fully dressed as the character and sat next to me, because I’m a freak magnet, I attract them,” he said. declared, with the sarcasm which characterizes it.

Then, he continued, while the public laughed at each intervention: “He was with his orange hair, his orange shoes and he sat next to me. The plane took off, the non-smoking light went out, and the guy pulled out a packet of Kents, lit one, and asked the stewardess for a gin and tonic. I told him the only thing I could tell him. ‘Where do you come from?’. “McDonaldland,” he replied. So, I thought, what if this plane crashes? I’m going to die next to a clown! he shouted, to everyone’s applause.

The two Pennywise that were in the movies

“Pennywise is a further extension of the monster King created, though he eventually became its face,” sums up the book The Science of Stephen King: The Truth Behind Pennywise, Jack Torrance, Carrie, Cujo, and More Iconic Characters from the Master of Horror, to explain the clown phenomenon.

When ABC saw the power of King’s story, they ordered a miniseries. The producers’ first idea was for director George Romero to be commissioned to direct 10 episodes, but the Night of the Living Dead creator left the project to help put together a remake of his masterpiece. On the way was pre-production of This He Came to Do and the one who took the job was Tommy Lee Wallace.

Pennywise, in the 90s version (Photo: File).
Pennywise, in the 90s version (Photo: File).

The filmmaker cast Tim Curry, most famous for the hit 1975 musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show, to play the monster clown in what ended up being a two-episode miniseries that later hit video stores across the board. world in 1990. VHS format, both parts of It were made into a novel-like event.

“The character that Curry plays has become an icon and defines him so much because the horror he represents goes slowly. You don’t see yourself arriving in what transforms and suddenly it explodes out of nowhere, “assured- he in a report that in 2019 the YouTube channel Red Carpet News TV made to Adam Faraizl, the actor who played Eddie Kaspbrak in 1990. , one of the teenage characters in the story.

An Argentinian brought ‘It’ back to the big screen in 2017

For more than two decades, Curry’s Pennywise has become a horror symbol for many fans of the genre who grew up nostalgic for seeing the film based on King’s work on television. But in 2017 the phenomenon arrived in the cinema at the hands of the Argentinian Andy Muschietti and, once again, it became a success. This time huge.

The film It: Chapter 1 has overflowed at the box office. According to Box Office Mojo, with a budget of $35 million, which is average by Hollywood standards, it grossed an incredible $700 million worldwide. The second installment, released in 2019, had double the money for its production, $79 million, and raised less, although the figure was not negligible for a genre feature film: $473 million.

Pennywise is one of the most feared characters in cinema.
Pennywise is one of the most feared characters in cinema.

Swede Bill Skarsgård took it upon himself to step into the character of the clown and turn him into something far more demonic than Curry: the Freddy Krueger-esque dream-like scenes in Nightmare are the touch of distinction that it puts the renewed plot on another level, unlike the 1990 TV movie. The clown’s clothes, a style much more old-fashioned harlequin than circus clown, also set him differently.

In a report directed by Jimmy Kimmel for his late night show, Skarsgård opened up about how it felt to play the character and what it was like to work with boys. “When he was doing all that clowning around and yelling and more, because Pennywise hates kids, I went and yelled at one of them in the face. When I was doing the scene and he was crying, I was thinking in my head, ‘God, I’m traumatizing this kid!’ she exclaimed.

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