West Summerdale: A Nightmare in the Making

Table of Content

Mid October 1970, a man in this early thirties moves into a quiet little neighborhood. He seems nice, quickly making friends with people in and outside the close nit Norwood Park Township. He throws large parties and dinners and gains the trust of all who make his acquaintance. He had a typical suburban life until 1975. By 1978, his world came to a screeching halt and Norwood Park Township was left inside a never ending nightmare of lies, deception and the ever lasting smell of decay.

The man in question is John Wayne Gacy Jr. born 1942 and died 1994 by lethal injection(Clarke,1994). Gacy was the second of three children and the only boy. All three of the children were raised Catholic and attended a Catholic school(Wikipedia). John was known for his hard working and polite demeanor. He did not have a lot of friends and his relationship with his father was rough at best. He also came down with numerous amounts of health problems at an early age. Gacy’s relationship with his father was so bad that it impacted his schooling.

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Unfortunately, Gacy did not graduate from high school in his teens but did finely achieve this goal later in life. By the time John was in his mid twenties he had graduated from Business College and started work at Nunn-Bush Shoes(Wikipedia). He also met and married a co-worker. Her name was Marylynn Myers whose father owned several Kentucky Fried Chicken restraunts in Iowa. Soon after getting married Marylynns father offered Gacy a high paying job in the company. They soon packed and headed to Iowa. Gacy worked every minute that he could afford in hopes that he would gain control of the business in the future.

In his spare time he joined the Jaycee’s. John was adored by all of the members. While with the Jaycess’s John invented Pogo the Clown who often entertained at the meetings and social events. Gacy eventually became man of the year and Vice-President. Gacy and his wife added a son and a daughter to their family. Gacy’s life was so perfect it was literally too good to be true. Johns first run in with the law was in 1968 he was twenty-six years old. It was claimed that Gacy raped a teenage boy named Mark Miller(Falk,2004). He was indicted by the Black Hawk County grand jury.

Just four months later Gacy was charged with the hiring of an eighteen year old to beat up Mark Miller. Gacy was charged with sodimy and he plead guilty. He was sentence to 10 years in prison. Gacy got out in just eighteen months after showing the state he was a model offender. Once he left prison he went back home to stay with his mother. In October 1970, Gacy left his mothers home and moved into his own. The address there was 8213 West Summerdale and this is where John Wayne Gacy developed an even greater taste for little boys flesh.

Within one year of moving into 8213 West Summerdale Gacy was throwing large parties and inviting his closest friends along with everyone else on the block. An old married couple lived right next to him the Grexa family and they were as close to him as his mom and sisters. Everything was going great he had a ton of friends, a new wife and a brand new business called Painting, Decorating and Maintenance or PDM Contractors(Falk,2004). The only hiccup in his plan was that almost everyone noticed that the oldest person working for him was only eighteen and the fact the he had a horrid odor coming from his crawl space under his home.

Gacy simply said that it was a sewage backup and left it at that. By 1975, John’s second marriage was failing due to the fact that he just could not hide his cravings any longer. On the other hand PDM was doing great. Later that year Gacy nominated his company to clean and repair the Democratic Headquarter. In doing this Gacy received that attention of Robert F. Matwick who was the committeeman for the Township(Taylor,2003). Mr. Matwick realized that Gacy had a great skill for talking and he was able to persuade any and all people to do just about anything. Shortly after that Mr.

Matwick nominated him to be secretary treasurer but just like everything else that was short lived due to the rumors of his past and alternative life style got him kick out of his seat. From here on out Gacy’s need increased ten full and the madder he got the more he craved. The only survivor of Gacy’s rampage was a sixteen year old boy named Tony Antonucci(Taylor,2003). Antonucci visited Gacy at his home and was tricked into putting on a pair of cuffs. Antonucci made sure that the cuffs were loose. Once Gacy tried to remove his clothes the boy slipped the cuffs and fought Gacy.

The boys gained control of Gacy and cuffed him to the bed. Gacy never bothered the boy again. Some of Gacy’s other victims were seventeen year old Johnny Butovich who Gacy refused to pay two weeks of wages(Taylor,2003). Once Johnny confronted him and realized he was getting no where he drove off never to be seen again. The next victim in line was seventeen year old Michael Bonnin who disappeared at a bus station. Next, was sixteen year old Billy Caroll who had been in trouble his whole life and made a living being a pimp for gay men. A fourth victim was seventeen year old Gregory Godzik who worked for Gacy at PDM.

On December 12, 1976 Gregory dropped of his date and headed home but never made it(Taylor,2003). On the 13th his car was found but he was missing. John Szyc nineteen also went missing. September 15, 1977 Robert Gilroy eighteen years old was discovered missing when he did not meet his friends. A whole year would go by before Gacy killed again. Robert Piest would be his youngest and last victim. Robert was fifteen years old while working at a local drug store. Piest’s mother came to pick him up after his shift when Robert told his mother he needed to talk to a local contractor a job and returned back inside.

Robert never returned and after she search that drug store inside and out she called the police. Lt. Joseph Kozenczak was in charge of the boy’s disappearance. Lt. Kozenczak obtained the name of the contractor who just happened to be Gacy. Joseph went down to talk to Gacy and to get him to come to the station. Gacy refused but said he would be down later. Many hours later Gacy arrived at the station. He informed the Luetenite that he know nothing about the boy and he was allowed to leave. Kozenczak was not happy with his findings so he ran a background check on Gacy and was flabber gasted at what he found.

On December 13, 1978 half the police force showed up at Gacy’s door(Taylro,2003). Even though he was not at home they continued to search. Police found a class ring with the initials J. A. S, marijuana, pills, a stained rug, child and homosexual books, hand cuffs, sexual devices, rope, and hair found out later to be Robert Piest’s(Taylor,2003). After they tested the evidence Gacy was informed of the findings. Unable to find more evidence linking Gacy to the missing Piest boy he was releases. In the days that fallowed Gacy’s friends and family where interviewed but nothing turned up.

The police became discouraged and decided to book him with procession. After being taken into custody police discover the class ring belonged to John Szyc who had been missing for nearly a year. They also found that three other boys that worked for Gacy had disappeared. All the pieces of the puzzle were coming together and Lt. Kozenczak was more motivated now then he had ever been. After discovering all this crucial evidence the police decided to search Gacy’s home once more. They started in the crawl space under the house.

They did not have to dig long before they came in contact with their first decaying body. On December 22, 1978 detectives confronted Gacy with the news that digging had been started under his house(Wikipedia). John Wayne Gacy then broke down telling the detectives that he had kidnapped, savagely raped and murdered at least 30 young men. Gacy informed the police that he used old clothes or the boys under ware to muffle the noise. Police found many bodies with their own under ware stuffed down their throat and hog tied. By December 28, police had removed 27 mangled bodies(Wikipedia).

The days fallowing that police found four more bodies floating in the Des Plaines and Illinois Rivers. Unfortunately, Robert Piest’s body was not discovered till April 1979. In the end all but nine bodies were identified. In this case the American Justice System prevailed. On February 6, 1980 John Wayne Gacy was convicted of 33 counts of murder and was given the death penalty(Falk,2004). Gacy spent the next fourteen years building a case but on May 9, 1995 Gacy was put to death by lethal injection. There are several different theories that can be used for the Gacy case.

One of the theories is the Rational Choice Deterrence Theory. Gacy saw his chance and his pleasure was more then what the out come of the crime would be. Another theory would be Development Life Course. This is a theory that starts before birth and progresses through life. Gacy’s dad was very abusive and his dad and he had a very bad relationship. On the other hand he had a great relationship with his mother and sisters. So the aggressiveness that he showed to all his victims may be in direct relationship to that. On the other hand it could have been Strain Theory.

The harder it was for him to lead a good life the angrier he became and he had a need for male companionship. So the anger he was feeling he took out on his male victims. Routine Activities is another, he saw all these young men with no parental supervision and he took his victims. There was no adult there to stop him and he could not stop himself. In the end thirty-three young men’s lives where brutally taken from them with no justification. We will never know why Gacy did what he did. Hopefully, one day we will be able to study his crimes and make a profile f or the future.All the criminal justice system can do to these kinds of criminals is punish them to the fullest extent and learn from their behavior.


  1. Taylor, Troy. 2003. John Wayne Gacy—The clown that killed. www. prairieghosts. com/gacy. Retrieved 2/26/2010
  2. Wikipedia. John Wayne Gacy. wikipedia. org/wiki/John_Wayne_Gacy Retrieved 2/27/2010
  3. Clarke, Kevin. 1994. Waiting for Gacy. Ebscohost. mht/search/gacy Retrieved 2/27/2010
  4. Falk, Kris D. M. A. 2004. Trial of the Clown. Proquest. mht/search/gacy Retrieved 2/27/2010

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West Summerdale: A Nightmare in the Making. (2018, May 10). Retrieved from


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