john wayne gacy


On February 24th, the defense began its proceedings and to the surprise of many in the courtroom, the first witness they had called was Jeffrey Ringall. It was expected that Ringall would testify in behalf of the prosecution. However, Ringall had previously mentioned his encounter with Gacy in a book and the prosecution believed that would damage their case if they took him on as a witness. Therefore, the prosecution did not call him as a witness because they believed his testimony would better help their case during cross-examination. Gacy's other defense lawyer, Amirante, asked Ringall if he thought Gacy was able to control himself. Ringall didn't believe so, considering the savagery of Gacy's attack. Testimony of Ringall did not last very long because he broke down while telling the court the details of his rape. Ringall was so stressed that he began to vomit and cry hysterically. He was eventually removed from the courtroom as Gacy sat by exhibiting no signs of emotion.

In an effort to prove Gacy's insanity, Amirante and Motta called to the stand the friends and family of the accused killer. Gacy's mother told of how her husband abused Gacy on several occasions, at one time whipping him with a leather strap. Gacy's sister told a similar story of how she repeatedly witnessed he brother being verbally abused by their father. Others who testified for the defense told of how Gacy was a good and generous man, who helped those in need and always had a smile on his face. Lillie Grexa took the stand and told of how wonderful a neighbor he was. However, Mrs. Grexa did say something that would prove damaging to Gacy's case. She refused to say that he was crazy, instead she said she believed Gacy to be a "very brilliant man." That statement would conflict with the defense's story that he was unable to control his actions and was insane.

The defense then called Thomas Eliseo, a psychologist who interviewed Gacy before the trial. He found Gacy to be extremely intelligent, yet believed that he suffered from borderline schizophrenia. Other medical experts that testified on behalf of the defense gave similar testimony stating that Gacy was schizophrenic, suffered from multiple personality disorder or had antisocial behaviour. They further stated that Gacy's mental disorder impaired his ability to understand the magnitude of his criminal acts. In conclusion, they all found him to have been insane during the times he committed murder. After the testimony of the medical experts, the defense rested its case.

Both sides emotionally argued their cases to the jury that sat before them. Each side recalled previous witnesses and experts who had testified. The prosecution reminded the jury of the heinous crimes committed by Gacy, talked of his manipulative behavior, his rape and torture of the victims and how his crimes were premeditated and planned.

The defense insisted that Gacy was insane and out of control at the time of the killings and pointed to the testimony given by experts during the trial. After the closing arguments and the testimony of over a hundred witnesses over a period of five weeks, the jury was left to make their decision.

It took only two hours of deliberation before the jury came back with its verdict. The courtroom was filled with silence and everyone within stood at attention when the jury marched in with its verdict. The silence was broken when the court clerk read, "We, the jury, find the defendant, John Wayne Gacy, guilty..."

In 2004, Dr. Helen Morrison published My Life Among the Serial Killers as a final word on John Wayne Gacy, as well as a purported text on the truth about all serial killers who have ever lived. She promises to explain just how the phenomenon of serial killing occurs and how it can possibly be stopped.

Morrison claims to have interviewed 80 serial killers, though she names only a few, and her persistent naiveté belies a psychiatric career that spans 30 years. While she comments authoritatively on historical figures such as Elizabeth Bathory (accepting unsubstantiated myths), as well as murderers in other countries whom she has never met, she does offer some intriguing new information about men such as Bobby Joe Long, Robert Berdella, Richard Macek, and Michael Lee Lockhart, whom she actually interviewed. Morrison's material is best in her chapters on Gacy, although for those who know the case well, there are some disappointments.

Morrison details the highlights of her discussions with Gacy as they prepared for his trial, as well as his letters to her afterward. She knew him for some 14 years. While her rendition of Gacy's defense is accurate, her insistence that he could not control himself during his 33 episodes of murderous violence rings false for those familiar with the prosecution's side.

There is a reason the state won that case and it's not just because "too many cooks spoil the broth," as Morrison likes to say when several psychiatrists get involved in a case. Granted, there were too many psychiatric opinions about Gacy, and many were loaded with jargon (including hers), but there were also issues that none of the defense psychiatrists managed to address: If Gacy had 33 "irresistible impulses," just how was it that he was digging graves in advance? Can one plan for supposed spontaneous homicidal behavior? And if his memory for what he did was so scattered, as Morrison indicates, how did he manage to draw maps of how he had buried each of the victims? How was he able to carry on business over the phone, even as he was in the process of killing Rob Piest? And when he realized he had all these bodies piling up in his crawl space (as he must have each time he buried one there), why didn't he seek help?

Unfortunately, Morrison does not address these issues.

If one can ignore the impression she conveys that she is the only person who actually understands serial killers, it's possible to learn some things about Gacy. That he was an incessant talker is already clear to anyone who has watched the various documentaries on the case, and that he was an artist is also well-known. In addition, a presentation of the case has been done before. But she does resolve the question that some authors have raised about Gacy and corpses: When he worked in a funeral parlor, he did once get into a coffin and arouse himself (although Morrison insists that he just wanted to lie down and the coffin was available).

One might expect that her discussions with Gacy's relatives might offer some insights, but in the end they just take up space, seeming to act more as filler than as anything significant.

Morrison also bought into Gacy's "Jack Hanley" act: that the evil Jack was responsible for whatever happened. He "comes out" when Gacy is angry, and therefore Gacy claimed to be a hapless victim. That, too, was part of his act for his trial.

What's interesting in this book is that upon Gacy's execution, Morrison was allowed to go to the autopsy and remove his brain for analysis. To her dismay, a pathologist found nothing abnormal about it.

Since the early 19th century, psychiatrists have tried to associate violence with an abnormal brain, so this theory is not new. Nevertheless, Morrison does seem certain that one day we will locate the mystery of the serial killer's behavior there. She ends the book with experiments she would like to perform to prove that this behavior stems from a genetic anomaly that can be verified with specific sophisticated tests.


Some have pointed to his poor relationship with his alcoholic father, his head trauma and subsequent blackouts in his teenage years as some basis for his acts. There has also been some speculation that murdering men and boys — whom he called "worthless little queers and punks" — was Gacy's subconscious expression of self-hatred for his own homosexuality (Gacy claimed to hate gays and "gay-acting people," and that he was bisexual).[3] However, his victims were mostly heterosexual males. The victims were not targeted because of their personalities or sexual histories or practices. Indeed, these were varied. Their most common attributes were youth and good looks.

After his execution, Gacy's brain was removed. It is currently in the possession of Dr. Helen Morrison, who interviewed Gacy and other serial killers in an attempt to isolate common personality traits held by such people. However, an examination of Gacy's brain after his execution by the forensic psychiatrist hired by his lawyers revealed no abnormalities. She has said Gacy did not fit into any psychological profile associated with serial killers, and the psychological reasons for his rampage will probably never be known. During Gacy's trial, Dr. Morrison herself appeared as a psychiatric witness and told the court that he had "the emotional makeup of an infant" (Sullivan and Maiken, 1983).

During his time on Death Row, Gacy took up oil painting, and his favorite subject was painting portraits of clowns. He claimed to have used his clown act as an alter ego, once sardonically saying that "A clown can get away with murder." After his execution, his paintings were sold at auctions. The main buyer burned the paintings after winning the bids. Another of his famous paintings is of transgressive punk rock singer/songwriter/performance artist GG Allin, who had visited Gacy in prison and corresponded with him until Allin's death in 1993; the painting is in the possession of Allin's brother and bassist, Merle Allin, and a black and white reproduction of the painting can be seen on the front cover of the soundtrack to the GG Allin documentary Hated: GG Allin And The Murder Junkies. His paintings were also used as artwork for the Acid Bath album When the Kite String Pops. As well, Gacy did some paintings for performance artist, musician and actor Glen Meadmore, who corresponded with him for a period of time. A portrait of Meadmore painted by Gacy appears on the front cover of Meadmore's recording Hot, Horny and Born Again. Another painting of Gacy belongs to Dani Filth, frontman of the metal band Cradle Of Filth. Filmmaker John Waters owns one of Gacy's paintings, which Waters says hangs in his guest bedroom "so people don't stay too long." --Wikipedia