Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Death Count

On Friday, December 22, 1978, Gacy finally confessed to police that he killed at least 30 people and buried most of the remains of the victims beneath the crawl space of his house. According to the book Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders by Sullivan and Maiken, Gacy said that, "his first killing took place in January, 1972, and the second in January, 1974, about a year and a half after his marriage." He further confessed that he would lure his victims into being handcuffed and then he would sexually assault them. To muffle the screams of his victims, he would stuff a sock or underwear into their mouths and kill them by pulling a rope or board against their throats, as he raped them. Gacy admitted to sometimes keeping the dead bodies under his bed or in the attic for several hours before eventually burying them in the crawl space.

On the first day that the police began their digging, they found two bodies. One of the bodies was that of John Butkovich who was buried under the garage. The other body was the one found in the crawl space. As the days passed, the body count grew higher. Some of the victims were found with their underwear still lodged deep in their throats. Other victims were buried so close together that police believed they were probably killed or buried at the same time. Gacy did confirm to police that he had on several occasions killed more than one person in a day. However, the reason he gave for them being buried so close together was that he was running out of room and needed to conserve space.

On the 28th of December, police had removed a total of 27 bodies from Gacy's house. There was also another body found weeks earlier, yet it was not in the crawl space. The naked corpse of Frank Wayne "Dale" Landingin was found in the Des Plaines River. At the time of the discovery police were not yet aware of Gacy's horrible crimes and the case was still under investigation. But, investigators found Landingin's driver's license in Gacy's home and connected him to the young man's murder. Landingin was not the only one of Gacy's victims to be found in the river.

Also, on December 28th, police removed from the Des Plaines River the body of James "Mojo" Mazzara, who still had his underwear lodged in his throat. The coroner said that the underwear stuffed down the victim's throat had caused Mazzara to suffocate.

Gacy told police that the reason he disposed of the bodies in the river was because he ran out of room in his crawl space and because he had been experiencing back problems from digging the graves. Mazzara was the 29th victim of Gacy's to be found, yet it would not be the last.

 

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