JOHN WAYNE GACY, 1978
The warning signs were there: the arrest for sodomy with a minor; another sexual offense with a child; the strange smell, like dead things, in his house. But John Wayne Gacy was also an upstanding citizen: he helped out the neighbors, he was the chaplain of the Jaycees, he dressed up as roly-poly Pogo the Clown to entertain children. But when police came asking questions in December 1978, Gacy started confessing. And so the cops looked in the house's 40-ft. crawl space, beneath the garage and under the house. They found the bodies and remains of 28 young men and boys; Gacy said there were four others that he had thrown into the river.
By the end of the year, police had practically torn the house down in their search. There was no question that Gacy would be found guilty; and a jury took barely an hour to come to that decision. He was sentenced to death, under new guidelines that would make sure the penalty was not "cruel and unusual" and therefore within constitutional bounds. But Gacy's execution by lethal injection in 1994 would reopen that question; instead of a five-minute procedure, the process took 18 and Gacy was clearly struggling as he perished. The critics asked: Was this cruel and unusual? His victims' families were unanimous: so was Gacy.
TIME Magazine posted this article online several years ago, along with a list of 24 additional notorious crimes that I have been posting and will continue to post every Saturday on my blog. Hope you enjoy.
You can learn more about this notorious killer here, and how he became an embarassment to the Secret Service when he was photographed with the First Lady, Rosalynn Carter in 1978. Gacy was an organizer of a Polish parade that was held in Chicago every year. In the photo, Gacy is wearing a pin with an "S" on it - meaning he received some special clearance by the Secret Service. Geez, it's amazing what you can learn by taking the time to read.
To read the previous 12 crimes - click the logo.