Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

John Wayne Gacy Jr.

Grisly Find

During the days following the police search of Gacy's house, some of his friends were called into the police station and interrogated. Gacy had told his friends earlier that police were trying to charge him with a murder but claimed he had nothing to do with such a thing. From the interviews police gathered little information on any connection with Gacy to Robert Piest. Friends of Gacy could not believe he was capable of killing a teenage boy.

Frustrated due to the lack of evidence that police had linking Gacy to Piest they decided to arrest Gacy on possession of marijuana and Valium. Unknown to police at the time, Gacy had recently confided in a friend and co-worker a day before his arrest that he had indeed killed. Gacy further confided in his friend that he killed about thirty people because they were bad and trying to blackmail him.

Around the time Gacy was arrested, he was awaiting action on the Ringall case, in which he had been charged with rape. Determined to find his rapist, Ringall had months earlier waited by one of the highway exits that he was able to remember during one of his wakeful episode in Gacy's car, before being chloroformed again. Finally, after hours of waiting by the exit, he spotted the familiar car and followed it to Gacy's house. Upon learning Gacy's name, he immediately filed charges of sexual assault.

Finally, after intense investigation and lab work into some of the items confiscated by police from Gacy's house, they came up with critical evidence against Gacy. One of the rings found at Gacy's house belonged to another teenager who had disappeared a year earlier named John Szyc. They also discovered that three former employees of Gacy had also mysteriously disappeared. Furthermore, the receipt for the roll of film that was found at Gacy's home had belonged to a co-worker of Robert Piest who had given it to Robert the day of his disappearance. With the new information, investigators began to realize the enormity of the case that was unfolding before them.

It was not long before investigators were back searching Gacy's house. Gacy had finally confessed to police that he did kill someone but said it had been in self-defense. He said that he had buried the body underneath his garage. Gacy told police where they could find the body and police marked the gravesite in the garage, but they did not immediately begin
digging. They first wanted to search the crawl space under Gacy's house. It was not long before they discovered a suspicious mound of earth. Minutes after digging into the suspicious mound, investigators found the remains of a body.

Removal of remains at Gacy's house
Removal of remains at Gacy's house

That evening, Dr. Robert Stein, Cook County Medical Examiner, was called in to help with the investigation. Upon his arrival at Gacy's house, he immediately recognized a familiar odor --the distinctive smell of death.

Stein began to organize the search for more bodies by marking off the areas of earth in sections, as if it were an archaeological site. He knew that the excavation of a decomposing body must be done with the utmost care to preserve its integrity and that of the gravesite. Throughout the night and into the days that followed the digging progressed under the watchful eye of Dr. Stein.


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