Who Is John Wayne Gacy and Is He Still Alive?

Conversations With A Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes is streaming on Netflix now and true-crime fans, will be hooked on the shocking true story of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

The three-part series is created by director Joe Berlinger, who was behind Netflix's Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and subsequently, the drama film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile about Bundy starring Lily James and Zac Efron.

He recently served as an executive producer on Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich and Murder Among the Mormons, both hugely popular Netflix documentaries. Berlinger also directed Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel and Confronting a Serial Killer which are also streaming on Netflix.

So, who is John Wayne Gacy, the focus of Berlinger's latest project and where is he now? Newsweek has everything you need to know.

Who is John Wayne Gacy?

John Wayne Gacy is a convicted serial killer and sex offender from Chicago, Illinois.

Between 1972 and 1976 Gacy assaulted and murdered at least 33 young males in Cook County, Illinois.

As heard in Conversations With a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes, Gacy claimed to have committed all of his murders inside his home near Norridge, Chicago Illinois. He would lure his victims to his home and subject them to periods of rape and torture them, before killing them.

In total, 26 victims were found in the empty crawl space of his home and three others were found around the property. Four were discovered in the nearby Des Plaines River.

Nicknamed "The Killer Clown", Gacy earned the haunting name due to his work as a clown, visiting children's hospitals and performing at charity events. Before then, he worked as an attendant at a mortuary in Las Vegas and enrolled at Northwestern Business College, graduating in 1963. He went on to become a manager within Nunn-Bush Shoe Company in Springfield, Illinois, and later, a manager at KFC.

Gacy was also a prominent member of the Jaycees (The United States Junior Chamber), a leadership training and civic organization in Illinois and Iowa.

He was no stranger to the authorities, having served 18 months of a 10-year prison sentence for the sodomy of a teenage boy in Waterloo, Iowa in 1968.

After his spell in prison, Gacy moved to Chicago and he set up his own part-time construction business, PDM Contractors, focusing on "Painting, Decorating, and Maintenance" in 1974. He employed mainly high school students and young men.

Gacy had killed his first victim, 16-year-old Timothy McCoy, in January 1972. As heard in Conversations With A Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes, Gacy's victims would often be lured with the promise of a job at PDM, an offer of drink or shelter, or money for sex.

Gacy was divorced from his first wife, Marlynn Myers in 1969 near the time he was convicted of sodomy of a teenage boy. A judge also ruled in her favor of taking full custody of their two young children. He was divorced from his second wife, Carole Hoff in 1976 and embarked on a killing spree for another two years, killing 30 other men.

However, he was not arrested by Des Plaines police until December 21, 1978, following the disappearance of 15-year-old, Robert Piest.

john wayne gacy
Serial killer John Wayne Gacy posed for the above Des Plaines Police Department mug shot in December 1978. Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images

Lieutenant Joseph Kozenczak and his team from the Des Plaines Police Deparmtnet investigated Gacy after Phil Torf, the owner of the pharmacy where Piest worked, had named Gacy as a contractor who had visited Piest at his store.

Piest's mother and colleague's spoke of a contractor wanting to speak with Piest about a potential job opportunity as his shift came to an end.

Following a routine check of Gacy's criminal history — a sodomy conviction and outstanding battery charge in Chicago — Kozenczack visited Gacy, who denied offering Piest a job at PDM and even meeting with him.

Gacy also attended the local police station, where he denied having any involvement in Piest's disappearance. Kozenczack later obtained a search warrant for Gacy's home, fearing Piest was being held against his will, where they found suspicious items, such as handcuffs, a gun, syringe, sex toys, and porn. Several driver's licenses were also uncovered. The police also began to monitor Gacy.

Crucially, a Nisson Pharmacy photo receipt was found in Gacy's kitchen, which was traced to 17-year-old Kimberly Byers who worked with Piest. She had left the receipt in Piest's jacket she had borrowed whilst working together.

Byers was able to tell police she recalled a man entering the pharmacy on the eve of his disappearance wanting to speak with him, going against Gacy's claims he had never met Piest.

Knowing the police were closing in, on December 20, 1978, Gacy confessed to his lawyer during a meeting about his civil lawsuit against the Des Plaines police for their surveillance that he had killed Piest. He then also confessed to killing up to 30 men.

Surveillance police then followed Gacy, who was acting erratically, as they awaited a second search warrant to look for Piest's body. They eventually arrested Gacy on charges of possession and distribution of cannabis after he was seen with the drug at a local gas station.

As he waited in custody, the police searched the crawl space of Gacy's house, uncovering human remains. He confessed to murdering 30 young men in a formal statement, given in the early hours of December 22, 1978.

Gacy also admitted to killing Piest and disposing of his body in Des Plaines River on December 13. He even provided authorities with a detailed map of the graves in and around his home.

Gacy's trial began on February 6, 1980, and he was charged with 33 murders in total. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, claiming to have four personalities. On the other hand, the prosecution argued Gacy was perfectly sane and intended to kill.

On March 13, 1980, Gacy was convicted of 33 murders. He was also found guilty of sexual assault and taking indecent liberties with a child, relating to Piest.

He was sentenced to death and transferred to Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Illinois.

Is John Wayne Gacy Still Alive?

John Wayne Gacy is no longer alive. He died on May 10, 1994, at Stateville Correctional Center, following execution by lethal injection.

Gacy spent 14 years on death row, despite a scheduled execution date of June 2, 1980.

On death row, he filed numerous appeals, which all failed.

Conversations With A Killer: The John Gacy Tapes is streaming on Netflix now.