Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Wayne Gacy Jr.

The Early Years

Chicago's Irish inhabitants and Mr. and Mrs. John Wayne Gacy marked the day with celebration. It was St. Patrick's Day and Marion Elaine Robinson Gacy and John Wayne Gacy, Sr. welcomed their first son into the world at Edgewater Hospital in 1942. John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was the second of three children. His older sister Joanne was born two years before him and two years later came his youngest sister Karen. All of the Gacy children were raised Catholic and all three attended Catholic schools where they lived on the northern side of Chicago.

The neighborhood in which Gacy grew up was middle class and it was not uncommon for young boys to take on part-time jobs after school. Gacy was no exception and he busied himself after school with a series of part-time positions and Boy Scout activities. The young Gacy had newspaper routes and worked in a grocery store as a bag-boy and stock clerk.

Gacy in clown makeup
Gacy in clown makeup

Although he was not a particularly popular kid in school, he was liked by his teachers and co-workers and had made friends at school and in his Boy Scout troop. He always remained active with other children and thoroughly enjoyed outdoor scouting activities. Gacy seemed to have a very normal childhood with the exception of his relationship with his father and a series of accidents that affected him.

When Gacy was eleven years old he was playing by a swing set when he was hit in the head by one of the swings. The accident caused a blood clot in the brain. However, the blood clot was not discovered until he was sixteen. From the age of eleven to sixteen he suffered a series of blackouts caused by the clot, yet the blackouts ceased when he was given medication to dissolve the blockage in the brain.

At the age of seventeen, Gacy was diagnosed with a non-specific heart ailment. He was hospitalized on several occasions for his problem throughout his life but they were not able to find an exact cause for the pain he was suffering. However, although he complained frequently about his heart (especially after his arrest), he never suffered any serious heart attack.

During Gacy's late teens, he suffered some turmoil with his father, although relations with his mother and sisters were very strong. John Wayne Gacy, Sr. was an abusive alcoholic who physically abused his wife and verbally assaulted his children. Although John Sr. was an unpleasant individual, young Gacy deeply loved his father and wanted desperately to gain his devotion and attention. Unfortunately, he was never able to get very close to his father before he died, something which he regretted his entire life.

 

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