Pogo the Clown: the grin of death | Sunday Observer

Pogo the Clown: the grin of death

John Gacey
John Gacey

Any child would be attracted to the comic actions of a clown. A clown is synonymous with laughter. Yet in history there was a clown who inflicted death and brought tears. The man hiding behind this masquerade was John Wayne Gacey, known to many as Pogo the clown. During a chilling murder spree this man killed 30 young boys and buried 26 of them right underneath his own house.

John Gacey was born on 17 March 1942. An overweight child he was the target of bullying at school. At home he had to encounter and tolerate an abusive alcoholic father. Often most criminals come from broken families, as they don’t receive love and attention. He was beaten with a leather belt and called ‘dumb and stupid’. Words are powerful and negative words on teenagers and children can cause serious damage to their self-esteem.

Gacey struggled to live and please his father. When Gacey was 7 years old he was molested by a family friend, but he remained silent. As a young man he worked at a mortuary in Nevada, where be slowly became attracted to dead male bodies, and one day got into a coffin and embraced a corpse. He later became the manager of a shoe store. In 1969 his father died and when told of the news Gacey is said to have collapsed on the floor, overwhelmed with emotion.

By 1975, aged 33 John Gacey was fully into homosexual activity. He had the habit of inviting young handsome men to his home and performed the “hand cuff trick” where he cuffed his victims and then raped them. As his crime spree went into an ‘upgrade’ he began to slowly subdue his male victims by inviting them to drink beer, and then use a rope to strangle them. During this entire period Gacey volunteered his time to attend birthday parties of kids dressed up as pogo the clown, and entertained them. Psychologists later opined that this behavior as a clown helped him to regress into his childhood: where he was bullied and afraid. It also built his credibility in society as a good and decent person.

When Police managed to get a search warrant for his Summerdale home, they began to dig the 28 by 38 feet crawl space under the house. Soon they found a human arm and an officer is said to have shouted ‘this place is full of kids’. Pogo the killer clown was about to meet his end, which was no laughing matter. Police later discovered that all his victims were killed between 3am and 6 am. Recalling his work experience in the Nevada mortuary he used to embalm some of his victims. He used to pour a substance called quicklime to ensure that the bodies decomposed rapidly. When the crawl space was full, he dumped 5 other bodies into a river from a bridge. In 1979 the house of horror was demolished.

The trail began in 1980 and John Gacey was charged with 33 murders. Prior to his trial he was subject to 300 hours of medical examinations to see if he was mentally fit to stand trial. It was found he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. The prosecutors however proved that he was sane and accountable for all his actions. During his time in prison he began to paint clowns: again a step back in time to his childhood, an attempt to brighten up a dark chapter in his life. His paintings were sold some fetching 20,000$. In 1983 Gacey was stabbed in the arm by a fellow prisoner.

On the morning of 9 May 1994 John Gacey was brought to be executed. For his last meal he ordered a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken, shrimp, strawberries and diet coke. He attempted to find solace by having a prayer with a catholic priest.

He was taken to the execution chamber and administered a lethal injection, the process of death taking 18 minutes. His final words without any remorse were “kiss my ass”. Pogo the killer clown was brought to justice. His brain was removed and given to Dr.Helen Morrison in an attempt to study the functions of this criminal being.