The real-life ‘killer clown’ who terrorized America


JJohn Wayne Gacy was one of America’s most prolific and horrific serial killers, responsible for the deaths of 33 young men, 26 of whom he buried in the space below his home in Chicago’s Norwood Park Township. An egotistical sociopath who ran a remodeling business, had strong local political ties (and aspirations), and moonlit as a children’s hospital clown named Pogo, Gacy was the worst of the worst. He was also, unsurprisingly, a cunning liar, as confirmed by a 1992 interview that doubles as the centerpiece of John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise, in which he claims that the police and the media “created this fantasy monster image” of him, and that “I had nothing to do with anyone’s murders.” Rarely has an arrogant killer lied so much and so blatantly.

In fact, the only certain thing he can say in the entire chat, led by legendary FBI profiler Robert Ressler, is that “antics have gotten a bad name because of what they have used in my case.”

Released on March 25 at Peacock, John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise it is part history lesson, part psychological investigation, and part showcase of cold and deceptive inhumanity, drawing a fine line between investigation and voyeurism. Its main hook is the 1992 conversation between Gacy and Ressler, who watches the incarcerated killer closely as he speaks kindly and confidently about his innocence; He goes on to say that he did not even know the dead, while leafing through a huge tome of research material that, according to him, exonerates him. No one on planet Earth is buying such nonsense, including this documentary series. However, if anyone does come close, it’s Craig Bowley, a longtime prison correspondent with Gacy, who helped organize Ressler’s videotaped reunion with the demon, and who spent years befriending him, to the point of that tells that her heart was broken when she finally had it. to say goodbye, through a hug, to his long-time acquaintance and confidant.

Bowley’s warped fascination with Gacy is one area in which John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise could have levered a lot stronger. However, for the most part, this six-part nonfiction adventure is too comprehensive; Like many of its genre siblings, it could have been at least one episode shorter without losing any key facts or knowledge. That’s especially felt in his back half, when inordinate attention is paid to the minutiae of Gacy’s trial (and his futile insanity defense in particular), as well as efforts to name the handful of victims who never were. officially identified. At the time. Such themes are relevant to the larger portrait painted here, but greater conciseness would have strengthened the impact of those passages, as well as enhanced the momentum of the proceedings.

Fortunately, John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise otherwise it is comprehensive, enlightening, and intriguing. The Gacy he reveals is a narcissistic and ruthlessly ambitious man who grew up with an abusive alcoholic father and a sexual appetite for young men. He was married and divorced twice (he had children with his first wife), all while dating countless gay people (he stood firm on the line that he was bisexual). He struggled to make inroads with political organizations and power actors in Chicago (sometimes through the spread and promotion of pornography), and he ran a remodeling business with teenage boys who had a suspicious habit of disappearing. When a potential recruit, 15-year-old Des Plains native Robert Piest, disappeared in 1978 while seeing Gacy for a job, while the boy’s mother waited for him outside his workplace, cops began sniffing around. What they finally found was a mass grave the likes of which had never been seen before.

Utilizing interviews with detectives, journalists, family members, friends, relatives of victims, and more, as well as archival news broadcasts, crime scene footage, home movies, and photographs. John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise provides a full account of the police surveillance and arrest of Gacy, and the excavation of his nightmarish home. The series avoids formal sensationalism in most turns; dramatic re-enactments are absent (only staged shots of settings resembling key locations are used), and images of Gacy as Pogo, an appearance he did not use to attract victims, are kept to a minimum. There is a sobering quality to his narrative, which also looks at Gacy’s checkered past before Chicago in Iowa, where he was convicted of sexually assaulting the teenage son of a state representative and was sentenced to 10 years behind bars at the Anamosa State Penitentiary. .

What they finally found was a mass grave the likes of which had never been seen before.

The fact that Gacy was released on probation just 18 months after that sentence demonstrates one of many cases where the criminal justice and law enforcement systems fell short. John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise details how Gacy repeatedly appeared on police radar for various crimes and missing persons cases and yet he always seemed to elude, either because of his personality or because of the political connections he had established throughout the area. Furthermore, in its epilogue chapter, the series contends that the police, fearful of exposing revelations that would shed a disparaging light on their initial investigation, may have deliberately ignored clues and evidence in later years that would have unearthed additional victims of Gacy (se boasted that his death count was closer to 45).

Overt and implicit accusations against the police are common components of John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise, and are complemented by a rather persuasive conspiracy theory regarding the possibility that Gacy did not act alone, but was aided by members of John Norman’s pedophile sex trafficking ring to which Gacy was linked through a employee (Phil Paske). Gacy’s familiarity with these individuals, as well as his cronies Michael Rossi and David Cram, who dig shady trenches, makes it entirely possible that others have helped him carry out facets of his long killing spree. Consequently, even though Gacy was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994, the case continues to raise questions with awkward answers.

John Wayne Gacy: Devil in DisguiseThe conclusion is a compelling argument that, in some respects, more still needs to be done, for example, policemen digging the courtyard of the apartment building where Gacy’s mom used to live, and where she quite possibly buried more bodies. What needs no further elaboration, however, is the depth of Gacy’s devious depravity, which despite his affable 1992 routine with Ressler, can be seen lurking behind his hard, emotionless eyes.

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