This is the second installment in my rundown of ten infamous serial killers. Last time, I bio’d Jack the Ripper and The Boston Strangler.
This week, the next two. I’m trying to list these guys in chronological order, rather than in order of infamy. I’m including only serial murderers, not mass murderers like Richard Speck.
The Zodiac Killer
For three decades, the crimes of this serial murderer have frightened and fascinated people in California, where they took place, and in the rest of the country as well. The Zodiac Killer was brought to the attention of millions via the movie SE7EN, which distorted many aspects of the case.
The true story begins in 1968, when the bodies of a pair of young lovers were discovered in a secluded spot in Benicia, California. Similar murders occurred months later, followed by an eerie phone call tipping off the police and laying claim to the killings. Well into the 1970’s, this mysterious individual taunted the police and media by sending cryptic messages laden with codes, cryptic passages, threats, and bloody pieces of cloth. The perpetrator is believed to have murdered at least five people, and botched attempts to kill two more. The survivors described their attacker as a male wearing a black, squared hood with a white crossed circle on his chest. He also drew similar images on his letters and on the victims’ cars.
Despite an extensive manhunt, the trail of the Zodiac grew cold in the early 1970’s. Various copycat criminals came out of the woodwork, particularly after books and movies publicized the case. There were several suspects, the prime one being a child molester by the name of Arthur Leigh Allen, who has since died. No incriminating evidence has ever been found to prove that Allen or any other suspect was the guilty party.
The case was classified as inactive in 2004, and it appears more than likely that it will forever go unsolved.
I will cruse around all weekend killing lone people in the night then move on to kill again, untill I end up with a dozen people over the weekend.”
John Wayne Gacy
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. was born in Chicago in 1942. He appears to have had a normal childhood; although his father was an abusive alcoholic, Gacy’s relationships with his mother and sisters were reported to be good. At age 11, he suffered a head injury that left him with a blot clot and blackouts, which were successfully treated several years later. He also developed a heart disorder. After dropping out of high school, Gacy worked as a janitor, and finally attended business school, after which he obtained a retail management position. He married in 1964, and was hired by his father-in-law to manage one of his Kentucky Fried Chicken stores, where he did well. Gacy became a pillar of the community in his new Iowa town, joining the Jaycees By the time he had fathered two children, however, rumors were circulating about homosexuality and child molestation. Convicted and sentenced to 10 years, he was released for good behavior after only 18 months. His wife had divorced him, and Gacy returned to Chicago, but sexual charges were once again brought against him.
Marrying a second time, he and his new wife had two daughters, and he started a building maintenance
business of his own, hiring only young teenage boys “to keep down expenses”. Again he became active in the community, often entertaining families as “Pogo the Clown.” Neighbors began complaining about strange odors emanating from the Gacy house, and the second marriage deteriorated. When John admitted to his wife that he liked men more than women, a divorce ensued.
Sexual complaints continued, and Gacy’s young employees began to disappear. Police learned about his record, obtained a warrant to search his house, ultimately leading to the discovery of a plethora of evidence and 33 bodies on and near Gacy’s property. Brought to trial and easily convicted, he was sentenced to death by lethal injection, an execution that was carried out in 1994.
“I should never have been convicted of anything more serious than running a cemetery without a license.”
I’ve never, ever, liked clowns. Talk about creepy.
Serial killer characteristics: had an abusive father, married, harmed children, gainfully employed.