FAQ: the investigation so far

What is this site and where are the posts I’ve read here before?

This is the home of an investigation by Alison True and Tracy Ullman begun in October 2011. Posts have been taken down while we work on bringing attention to the case through other platforms.

Who’s John Wayne Gacy?

He was a Chicagoan with a small construction company and one of the world’s most prolific serial killers. He was suspected in the disappearance of a suburban teenager in 1978 and arrested, whereupon the police found the remains of dozens of victims in the crawlspace under his house. By the time Gacy was executed in 1994, 25 victims had been identified and the remains of 8 others were interred without ID.

Why is he called the “Killer Clown”?

People often say that Gacy lured victims dressed as a clown, but this is false. He occasionally dressed as a clown for parties, but he kidnapped victims other ways: by offering them construction work or inviting them to party with him, and also by plucking them off the street while posing as an undercover police officer.

Were there witnesses to the crimes?

While they were trailing him, police followed him into a bar and overheard what seemed to be a discussion about disposing of bodies. Before and after the arrest, several young men of his acquaintance were questioned by police, while others may have taken off. One survivor said at least one other person was involved when he was kidnapped and brutally attacked.

No one else was ever charged, nor given plea deals for immunity.

So what’s up with that place at Miami and Elston?

In the mid 1970s Gacy had a maintence contract there, and for a time his mother occupied one of the five apartments. After his arrest, several neighbors of that building called police saying they might have witnessed Gacy burying victims without realizing it.

Wasn’t that place investigated recently?

That depends on how you define “investigated.” In 1998, after a ground-scanning-radar company found anomalies in the yard, the Chicago police obtained a search warrant and expressed a strong conviction that they’d find human remains there. In the event, though, investigators ignored diagrams drawn by the witnesses and kept their operations restricted to a small tent set up in a different place in the yard.

In response to our inquiries, and our proffered witness interviews and new evidence, Cook County sheriff Tom Dart made a new search of the property in the spring of 2013. Dart later announced that the site was clean, but when pressed, his expert admitted that the search would not have been thorough enough to produce any solid conclusions.

Though he has stated that he is committed to tying up the loose ends in the case, Dart has not explained why he doesn’t want to excavate the site. His refusal raises questions about why he insists on preserving the dubious conclusions of the original, 1978 investigation.

How so?

Much has been made of Dart’s announced intention to use modern technology to try to bring closure to the families of the victims who weren’t identified at the time of Gacy’s arrest.

Dart invited people to submit profiles of potential victims, and said he heard from more than 100. He said his office narrowed the field to 30 or so based on their similarity to the profiles of Gacy’s known victims, and their relatives were invited to submit DNA. Since then two victims have been identified.

What about all those other families whose victim profiles seemed likely?

At the time of Gacy’s arrest witnesses reported suspicions about multiple other locations in Chicago, including but not limited to the house on Miami, The sheriff has not shown any interest in investigating them. He does, however, readily admit that Gacy traveled frequently for work and may well have murdered boys elsewhere.

Anything else going on?

Sherry Marino’s son, Michael, was identified in 1980, along with his friend Kenny Parker, as a Gacy victim, but she was supsicious of the news. After we began publicizing problems with the case, criminal defense attorney Stephen Becker petitioned the court on her behalf for permission to exhume the purported remains of her son. Over the county’s objections, she prevailed, and subsequent tests proved that her DNA did not match that of the victim. There was speculation that Michael’s and Kenny Parker’s remains had mingled and their identities had gotten switched. So she obtained permission, fighting Cook County in court once again, to exhume Parker’s remains. There was no match between her DNA and that of the second victim either. So for certain, neither victim is her son, and it’s possible, considering the circumstances, that the friend was misidentified as well.

The sheriff doesn’t accept her legitimate test results, nor does he acknowledge that he now has at least one, maybe two, and possibly even more additional victims to contend with.

3 thoughts on “FAQ: the investigation so far

  1. Who is the owner and why will they not allow a public crew to dig up the yard wouldn’t they want to help?

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    1. The deed says the owner is a man who lives in California named John Patrick McGanty. So far he has not responded to my attempts to reach him.

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