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New Book Looks Back At John Wayne Gacy Case

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John Wayne Gacy

John Wayne Gacy was known for many years around his neighborhood as a Democratic precinct captain and a birthday party clown. But in December 1978, police discovered 29 bodies buried in a crawl space of his house and the surrounding yard in unincorporated Norwood Park Township. Another four bodies were found in the Des Plaines River. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A new book re-examines one of the most shocking crimes ever – John Wayne Gacy’s murder of 34 boys and young men in the 1970s.

WBBM Newsradio 780′s Regine Schlesinger has been talking with the authors.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780′s Regine Schlesinger reports


Gacy was arrested on Dec. 20, 1978, after police discovered 29 bodies buried in a crawl space of his house and the surrounding yard of his house in unincorporated Norwood Park Township. They were covered with lime and encased with plastic.

Another four bodies were found in the Des Plaines River.

Before detectives began digging up the bodies in the crawl space, Gacy had put in a call to an acquaintance – Sam Amirante, an attorney just out of the Cook County Public Defender’s office. Gacy wanted to know why Des Plaines police were tailing him.

“So I called to find out what was going on here, and bing and a bang and a bong, I found myself in the middle of this huge case,” he said.

It was Amirante’s first case in private practice. Now, he and co-author Danny Broderick have written the book, John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster, about the Gacy case.

Amirante thinks it’s unfortunate that Gacy was executed on May 10, 1994, before psychiatrists could figure him out.

“Dr. Helen Morrison – one of the psychiatrists – actually took Gacy’s brain after he was executed and examined it; didn’t find anything physically wrong,” Amirante said. “If we could save one kid in the future by studying him, isn’t it worth it?”

Before he was discovered to be a serial killer, Gacy was known as a loyal Democratic precinct captain who had his picture taken with First Lady Rosalynn Carter, and as Pogo the Clown, who worked children’s birthday parties. But he also had a criminal record, in the form of a molestation conviction from 1968.

After he was arrested, prosecutors said Gacy admitted most of his crimes, and even led police to bodies. But after his conviction in 1979, he insisted he was innocent, and a misunderstood victim of circumstance.

When CBS 2’s Walter Jacobson interviewed Gacy for a May 1992 story, Gacy claimed all he did was help dispose of two bodies, including that of Robert Piest, 15, whom Gacy had invited to apply for a job at his construction company. Gacy alleged that Piest had been killed by someone else in his home, but he said he did throw the body in the Des Plaines River.

Never showing remorse for his crimes, Gacy instead presented himself as a victim for being convicted of a crime he claimed he did not commit. He blamed the murders on employees of the P.D.M. Construction Company, for which his house doubled as headquarters.

He maintained that the smell of decomposing bodies coming from his house that neighbors complained about was because his lhasa apso dog was locked in the kitchen all day and had been urinating and defecating. Or if not that, maybe the sump-pump.

All of these alibis and excuses were the bases of his appeals, all of which failed. When he was executed on May 10, 1994, his notorious last words were, “Kiss my ass.”

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