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John Wayne Gacy Trial: 1980

Gacy Confesses, Trial Focuses On Gacy's Sanity

Defendant: John Wayne Gacy, Jr.
Crimes Charged: Murder, murder during the commission of a felony, aggravated kidnapping, deviate sexual assault, indecent liberties with a minor
Chief Defense Lawyers: Sam Amirante, Robert Morra
Chief Prosecutors: William Kunkle, Robert Egan, Terry Sullivan
Judge: Louis B. Garripo
Place: Cook County, Illinois
Date of Trial: February 6-March 12, 1980
Verdict: Guilty

SIGNIFICANCE: John Wayne Gacy was convicted of more murders than any other serial killer. His case focussed attention on the vexing question of the sanity or mental state of sadistic serial killers.

John Wayne Gacy was arrested on December 22, 1978 in connection with the disappearance of a 15-year old boy, Robert Piest. Gacy was 36 years old, twice divorced, and living in a modest suburban home in Des Plaines, Illinois. He was quite well known in his community, liked by his neighbors, and remembered for his performances in clown costume at children's parties. He was active in local politics and had been recognized for his leadership in the Jaycees. He ran his own successful small construction company, specializing in remodeling. Gacy was quickly linked to the disappearance of Robert Piest because immediately before he was last seen the boy had told his mother that he was going to Gacy's home to talk about a summer job. However, this was not Gacy's first arrest, nor was it the first time that he had been a suspect in the disappearance of young men.

In 1968 Gacy had been convicted of sodomy in Iowa, based on the accusations of two teenage boys. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was released on parole in June 1970 and soon returned to the Chicago area where he had grown up. In February 1971 he was arrested after a teenage boy charged that Gacy had forced him to commit sexual acts, but the charges were dropped after the boy failed to appear in court. In August 1975 and again in December 1976, Chicago police questioned Gacy following the disappearances of two young men. The remains of both of them were among those subsequently discovered under Gacy's home. In December 1977 two young men accused Gacy of kidnapping and rape, but charges were not filed.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980