Claire Martinez English 1B
In this essay I will be discussing and issue that is very prevalent in society but something not a lot of people choose to talk about or even want to believe, monsters. What makes a monster and just how do they become so twisted overtime. There will be many physiological reasonings and viewpoints talked about but also personal viewpoints and evidence found through the literature read that will be included to further prove what makes a true monster like John Wayne Gacy otherwise known as the killer clown. Some keys aspects to this essay and understanding him are his childhood and upbringing, mental or psychological issues he may have had, and what he got out of harming all of the innocent boys he hurt.
John Wayne Gacy was born on March 17, 1942, to both Danish and Polish parents, his siblings and him lived with a father who was an alcoholic and often to all of his anger out on the children with a razor strap, often times if the kids were to misbehave to much the father would believe it was due to their mothers lack of discipline so he would turn on her and neglect her as well. It had also been said that Gacy was sexually assaulted multiple times by their childhood neighbor who his parents befriended. In a report later, his sister stated they “toughened up” and that before she knew it John didn’t even cry anymore. Not only was there turmoil and grief in his home there was a constant scarlet letter on him at school due to a congenital heart condition he had that set him apart from the other kids because he could not do certain activities, this was also looked at as another failure by his father. Later in his young adult life he realized he was attracted to men and experienced a significant amount of issues when dealing with his sexuality both personally with himself and the closest people surrounding him. In his adult years Gacy was a very well known and distinguished business man who had worked his way up from the bottom to create a life for himself and later his wife’s and children, he was married twice and had multiple children both biological and stepchildren. Being so well known in the public also a Democratic precinct captain in the Chicago suburbs in the 1970’s he set up cultural gatherings for the city and worked as a clown hosting parties in his spare time. In 1968 he was convicted for sexually assaulting two innocent teen boys and given a ten-year prison sentence he only served two years for because he was paroled early in 1970. But shortly after another teen came forward stating that they had been sexually assaulted by Gacy the charges were later dropped because the boy never showed up to trial. By the middle of the decade in his sexual assault binge two more males came forward with new sets of allegations he was later questioned by police about the incidents as well as the disappearance of the other boys along the way. It was later uncovered that in 1972 he committed his first known killing of Timothy McCoy after luring him into his home he was never to be seen again. After his trial he was charged and found guilty of committing 33 murders, he was sentenced to serve 12 death sentences and 21 natural life sentences. On May 10, 1994 he was sentenced to lethal injection and died at the Stateville Correctional Center in Illinois.
With a little more insight and background into who John Gacy was it is clearer than ever that he was a monster and a menace to society. In making that fully loaded statement there is so many new studies and readings that explain and describe just exactly how John got to be the way he was, why he chose the path he did and why others to this very day and age do things such as John. In Jeffrey Cohens Monster Theory: Reading Culture, he breaks down the seven theses’ of how and what a monster is it gives a little insight to the thought process at hand for people like John. While all the theories apply to John in one way or another there where certain theories that applied more than others such as, Theory one the monster’s body or the Cultural Body. This theory suggests that the monster is never just a monster it always signifies something else such as the reflection of fears and anxieties tied to a certain time in life or feeling when they were created. “The monsters body quite literally incorporates fear, desire, anxiety, and fantasy, giving them life and an uncanny independence” (Cohen,4). At the community gatherings John would pose as a clown for the children the first thing that comes to mind when I think clown is the emotion happy, up until 1990 when Stephen Kings movie IT came out clowns where portrayed as happy beings that entertained people but mostly children with their cool and mesmerizing tricks. With all of the underlying issues John had mentally and emotionally from his childhood and young adult years could his clown costume and makeup have been the perfect way for him to mask all of his issues and fears and pose as a “normal human” even if it was just for a moment? Thesis six and seven also tie into John deeply, theory six states that the fear of the monster is really a kind of desire “The monster is continually linked to forbidden practices, in order to normalize and to enforce” (Cohen,16). Was the forbidden practice sexual assault on a minor and also murder, did he desire these actions because he knew they where wrong but he had the trust of so many in the community? Thesis seven stands out probably the most in his case due to the traumatic childhood he had as well as his other siblings. This thesis states that “This thing of darkness I acknowledge is mine” (Cohen,20). To deeper explain the creator of the monster is taking ownership of who the monster is and what the monster has done and therefor he and or she is responsible in this case it would be Johns parents who are to be held responsible for his very scarring childhood that perhaps mentally stunted him and made his adult life what it was. After Gacys’ trial his family never spoke out about him they all hid one sister changed her last name that way she was never to be associate with him and his parents never said anything to the media about the crimes he has committed. “Monsters are our children” Jeffrey Cohen says they can be pushed away to far edges but they will always return. One of Gacys’ sisters by the name of Karen Kuzma spoke to Oprah Winfrey about how it was seeing John just hours prior to him receiving the lethal injection and this is what she said, “He acted as if he was at peace about his doings”, she also added that loved him and that she had not forgiven him for the crime he had done but rather was sorry for everything they had been through. If Gacy’s parents where alive at the time the sister spoke out about how she felt now that her brother had received the lethal injection would they still have not spoken to the media or would they have spoken to the media and admitted to what he was put through in his childhood and just how rough it was for him and his siblings or would they have painted a picture of something that was other than the truth?
Not only did Gacy commit these inhumane crimes and murders the way he tried to hide it was very dark yet so meticulous, he marked grids under his house with numbers to keep track of the people he had murdered. When investigators later came to his house to see all he had done it was almost like an archeological dig. During his few crime filled years he “murdered 33 people, 29 of whom were found underneath Gacy’s house 26 in a crawlspace and 3 other bodies in other areas underneath Gacys house” https://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/serial-killers/john-wayne-gacy/ . John Wayne Gacy was perhaps one of the most know people in the 70’s and still is talked about today for that reason he was a very successful monster, he lands on the top ten list of most known serial killers of all time. He was able to maintain this alternate lifestyle for many years and he obviously was satisfied with that, his ex-coworkers stated in a 2017 serial killers documentary that his personality was very “controlling and he loved being a boss of his own company because he also liked telling people to do” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tfxtnn4xOA .
Even though John Wayne Gacy struggles in his early childhood for expectance and longed the feeling of love, he was indeed determined to receive it in anyway possible. When it had come time for him to be executed, he was ready and told many he was ready to pay for the crimes he committed over the last several years. Gacy did not only live up to the expectation of a monster but he succeeded it and fulfilled every aspect of that lifestyle. He coined the most popular scary clown we have today “IT” and makes everyone feel as if they are his next victim. Ideally this is what every good monster wants they are looking for a rise in emotion or a scream in terror its almost as if the monster feeds off these frightful emotions us humans convey. In a society where scary things happen every day I don’t think having another case such as Johns is totally out of the question, after all isn’t society responsible for creating these mosters?
(1)Vronsky, Peter. Serial Killers : The Method and Madness of Monsters. Vol. Electronic ed, Berkley, 2005. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=htt p://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=131775&site=ehost-live.
This source provided more information into the mind of a monster, physically and psychologically specifically about John Wayne Gacy and just how he thought about planning his attacks and why he did so. From sit down interviews to pictures of the crime scenes this book truly showed how nasty these killers are. (Secondary)
This is a scholarly source from the Chaffey College Bookstore written by an accredited author named Peter Vronsky.
(2)Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
The main book I will be basing my research off of is the monster theory by Jeffrey Cohen. Through picking apart the seven theory’s in class I am able to apply more than one of these to my monster I am writing about to better help the reader understand why he did the things he did to all of those people. (secondary)
Scholarly book through Google Scholar and professor’s website.
(3)This is a documentary is a primary that provided more information about John Wayne Gacy and his childhood and where he came from. This then helped me understand part of who he became as an adult and what he turned into later in his life. This also gave me more information about the crimes he committed and why he did so. (primary)
This is a documentary from crime stories from 1994 around the time when this all started.
(4)This source is credible due to the fact that it cam from his sister who was a first hand source to who he was growing up and until his last days.
This source was able to shine more light into his personal life as an middle aged man, along the way it gave facts and findings about his wife and kids and how he felt about them and most importantly the struggles he faced with his sexuality. (secondary)
Credible source from .org cite, also is a website otherwise known as a museum because it hold so much information about people. .
This source was a first account documentary from his attorney, fellow coworkers and other people he was around in in his daily life to be able to give the viewer more understanding to who he was and why he may have done the things he did to all of those boys. (primary)
Credible source because of the first hand accounts of information from fellow people he knew.