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Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  3,429 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Who was John Wayne Gacy?

The model citizen whose business skills were admired by his peers?

The hospital volunteer whose sweet-faced clowning lightened the patients' days?

The member of the Jaycees who was a civic-minded friend of the community?

The depraved maniac who sodomized, tortured, and killed thirty-three young men and boys?

Shortly before Christmas of 1978, a teena

Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 1st 2000 by Pinnacle (first published 1983)
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Ruthie Jones
Jun 26, 2011 Ruthie Jones rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Scared the heck out of me when I read this years ago! This book "cured" me of my obsession for true crime novels, although I still read them occasionally. I couldn't stand being alone while I was reading this gruesome story.
David Corvine
Apr 30, 2014 David Corvine rated it liked it
Predominately concerned with the police investigation and surveillance operation and then the subsequent trial. Balancing one person's right to freedom against another's is really the crux of libertarian thought but when one person has a compulsive desire to strangle another and then sodomize the corpse before burying it under his house then the choice seems quite clear cut to me. It is largely academic whether Gacy was mad or bad he clearly could not be allowed to remain at liberty. The fact th ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Susan rated it it was amazing
Back of Book:
The model citizen whose business skills were admired by his peers?
The hospital volunteer whose sweet-faced clowning lightened the patients' days?
The member of the Jaycees who was a civic-minded friend of the community?

The depraved maniac who sodomized, tortured, and killed thirty-three young men and boys?
Shortly before Christmas of 1978, a teenage boy disappeared from the drugstore where he worked. He would be the final victim of John Wayne Gacy's horrifying
May 05, 2012 D'Anne rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I was warned by reviews on Amazon that this book was really heavy in the police and trial procedural stuff, and not the psychological aspect of Gacy himself. I was largely okay with this since I am usually really interested in the workings of the criminal justice system. But this book got pretty boring pretty quickly. The first half of the book is essentially a play-by-play account of undercover officers tailing Gacy. They watch his house, they follow his truck, they play a computer football gam ...more
Jan 01, 2017 BookLady rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
En 1994, John Wayne Gacy fue ejecutado por inyección letal después de su sentencia a muerte por el asesinato de 33 hombres jóvenes y muchachos durante los años 70's. La gran mayoría fueron enterrados en el "sótano" de su casa y otros en el jardín bajo el asador. Y hay algunos de ellos aún pendientes por identificar. Evidentemente que los engaños y patrañas de Gacy sobre sus víctimas me recordaron a IT de Stephen King. Gacy decía que Pogo el payaso era su lado cómico y agradable que le permitía a ...more
Dec 23, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2014, non-fic, true-crime
Proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, inside the shrieking, tabloid style cover of Killer Clown lies a sober account of the investigation into and prosecution of John Wayne Gacy for the murders of at least 33 young men and boys. Co-written by Terry Sullivan, a State Attorney who was involved in the case from the very beginning when the case simply appeared to be the disappearance of 15 year old Robert Piest, he then lead the investigation which eventually saw the recovery of the bo ...more
Ethan Hval
May 12, 2013 Ethan Hval rated it really liked it
True Crime is one of my guilty pleasures. I usually pick up these types of books for some light reading in between works that I consider more artistic. However, from the moment I picked this book up I couldn't put it down. It is a fast paced, suspense filled ride written by one of the lead prosecutors for the case.

I'm always a fan of good reporting and courtroom drama. But the whole tone of this book brought me inside and I connected emotionally with many of the people involved including the mo
Feb 29, 2016 Bellezza rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
From the front of the book: The shocking true story of the man convicted of more murders than any other person in United States history!

Some might think that back to back books on the same person would be boring, but each author has his own style. Terry Sullivan was one of the District Attorney 19s who help prosecute John Wayne Gacy. He was in on the investigation from the beginning.

This is a very detailed account. The investigation is broken into days. It was 10 days from John Gacy 19s last vic
Rebecca McNutt
Nov 19, 2014 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
Words cannot even describe how much John Wayne Gacy creeps me out. I mean, I've hated clowns for years (not because they're scary but because they're annoying and weird), but that's beside the point - this book has very little to do with clowns. The only reason it's titled as such is because it gets attention, and because Gacy often worked as a "professional clown" at a children's hospital. The sad and disturbing irony is that he was also a molester, a twisted perv who killed off over thirty men ...more
Aug 19, 2011 Janet rated it liked it
I decided to finally read this book after reading Devil in the White City. Both books are about mass murderers in Chicago and both highlight a bit of Chicago in the process. Unfortunately, Killer Clown struck a little too close to home and it took me a long time to read it and even longer to review. I was about 10 when I watched the body count each night on the news. I knew Gacy lived only 2 miles away and I knew he only killed teenage boys. At the time I didn't understand why. It was eerie to r ...more
Dec 03, 2013 Shira rated it liked it
Interesting story, of course, and having the first person account made for some excellent details, to be sure. On the other hand, this is a book written by the prosecutor. It has an awful lot of details. Prosecutors do that.
Basically, this story is so very horrifying, and yet this book didn't affect me emotionally as much as some others have, which I think is because the writing just wasn't quite as good. That being said, JWG is so awful that maybe that is a good thing?
Jan 08, 2010 Leslie rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about a serial killer. Includes the bizarre story of his reaction to 24-hour surveillance for a month while they figured out what he had done - speeding, inviting the police to lunch, inviting them into his house. Gacy was the first serial killer I had ever heard of, and he still fascinates me.
Jun 08, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
This book was... unnerving. It really drives home the point that monsters DON'T live under your bed. They could be our neighbors, relatives, friends and we're completely ignorant to it because they look so normal. Creepy! Killer Clown is very detailed, which may get boring for some - especially the court proceedings. I liked it though. A must-read for fans of true crime.
Mar 14, 2016 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: true-crime
This book was very interesting on how the police managed to capture one of the worlds worst serial killers, although a bit graphic and disturbing in some parts its a must for any true crime fan.
Dec 02, 2007 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Peeps who luv serial killer and true crime books
Ugh, this book creeped me the hell out. The man was a monster. My uncle worked at Cook County when he was incarcerated. He met Gacy briefly and said he was as charming as could be. Rot in hell Gacy!
Feb 02, 2010 Kara rated it liked it
So goddamn scary.
Anna Cruz
May 30, 2017 Anna Cruz rated it really liked it
This was pretty easy to read, as it kept me interested. The only couple other true crimes I've read seemed long-winded. This case was very interesting to go along with. I had to keep reminding myself that this actually happened.
Jul 09, 2017 JBooks rated it liked it
The investigation of the crime is great stuff but the trial gets a little dry.
Jul 08, 2017 Michael rated it really liked it

Very detailed in the writing. Enjoyed the walk through of each victim. The trial was a bit long for me, but all in all enjoyed it.
Jan 14, 2017 Sherri rated it liked it
Creepy Gacy, brought to life.
Kenneth Fairfield
Great. The 1970s...when cops drank on the job and had no problem with allowing suspects to drive drunk.
Bryan Nowak
Jan 31, 2017 Bryan Nowak rated it it was amazing
For me, this story has a distinctly personal note. I am native to the south Chicago suburbs. I grew up only one hour away from where John Gacy lived and killed. Being born in 1973, I was just a little kid when this story broke. Too young to fit the pattern of Gacy's victims, it did affect me nevertheless. As Mr. Sullivan points out, there was a gravitational shift in the world during the 70s. Partially this shift came as a result of the Gacy case. The world no longer felt safe. When us kids were ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I am done with serial killer books for a while. I read most of this on a plane. Maybe that highlighted the total nihilism I felt reading this. Flying through the air in a cramped tube with 100-200 strangers makes me feel randomness that much more intensely. In fact, it’s been bothering me for days. Life can be anything and Life can be nothing. This book shouldn’t have made me have deep thought about life, but it did.
The police officer who was trying to console one of the dead boys’ fath
Joshua Gross
Oct 07, 2015 Joshua Gross rated it it was ok
This book isn't great. Terry Sullivan might be a good lawyer but he's not a great writer. The writing he does is fine and matter of fact, but it's very journalistic in nature. When he does bring on some personal thoughts and explores some different aspects of the case it's all stuck at the end and it's all new material. And it's all mostly about him.

The first part of the book should be called Part 1: Following and socializing with John Gacy. It is page after page after page of police officers fo
Andrew R. Novak
Aug 19, 2016 Andrew R. Novak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a massive fan of True Crime and Non-fiction writing, so a book chronicling the investigation of Chicago's most infamous serial killer was something that naturally piqued my interest. The John Wayne Gacy case is one that has been examined extensively in a number of books and films. The merit of those chronicles have been brought into question, not to mention that many of them come across as exploitative. This book is respectful and honest without ever seeming cheap or schlocky.

The author, Te
Jan 10, 2014 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime
This book was my very first book on finding out about Gacy and his victims. It was also the only book available at my library about him. Terry Sullivan was there in the process of catching Gacy, investigating, and going against him in court. It really can't get much more in depth than that.

In this book, there are details about Gacy's life and his background, but the main focus here is the events leading up to his arrest, his trial, and subsequent death. Depending on which edition you get, there
Jerry Smith
Not bad. Written by a prosecutor of John Gacy and goes into detail about his arrest for his last murder from the point of Piest's disappearance. The most interesting part of the book to me was his final arrest and trial. Before that it is really a blow by blow account of the surveillance operation. While this isn't without interest, it becomes somewhat repetitive and tends to drag. This may be unfair and it does tell us something about police procedures and how they eventually ran Gacy to ground ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it
I feel that much like Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, this account of a serial murderer by his prosecutor conveyed the heinousness of John Wayne Gacy's crimes, the depths of his cruelty, and his charm without sensationalizing the murders or forgetting the humanity of the victims.

This provides valuable insight into how American society enabled John Wayne Gacy's crimes. Gacy told his escaped victims to go to the police, they wouldn't be believed anyway - and he was correct. If our society had valued t
Gayle Francis Moffet
In the tradition of Helter Skelter, Sullivan was one of the prosecutors on the Gacy case, and he takes us through the very first day of investigation through the 9 days it took to bring Gacy down. He then recounts the trial and does a fine job throughout of giving us the facts and letting the horror of the case speak through the events he witnessed or experienced via reports from police. It is, by accident, an interesting companion to Helter Skelter both because they happened within a decade of ...more
Dec 09, 2013 Aliza rated it liked it
A chilling story with more than 30 victims, but rather clinically told. Too many procedural details - did we really need to know what Gacy ate during every day of the surveillance? - but really delivered during the section with the discovery of the bodies in the crawl space. Perhaps the craziest thing to think about is that Gacy got away with murdering teenage boys (and burying them in that crawl space, in which some of his victims had previously helped dig their own graves) for so long by preyi ...more
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“Gacy came out with Gray and walked up to the officers. They had to meet Stevens at Di Leo’s, a restaurant on Chicago’s Northwest Side. Did the officers mind if Gray drove? They didn’t, but they advised the youth to use caution. It” 0 likes
“Gray walked over to Robinson’s car and began repeating what he had just told Schultz, reiterating the fears he had for his own safety. The conversation was interrupted when Gacy returned from the restaurant. “Let’s go,” he told Gray. Robinson jumped into his car, which was parked in front of Gacy’s, and twisted around to see which way Gray would be going. Gray pulled out and went straight ahead, and Robinson fell in behind him. “Stick” 0 likes
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