Chicago, Illinois

John Wayne Gacy, Jr. by Sufjan Stevens

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8213 West Summerdale Avenue
Chicago, Illinois

This address in a Chicago suburb was the home of the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy Junior from around August 1971 until his arrest in December 1978.

Gacy married his first wife in September 1964 and could have lived the American dream as the manager of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, siring a son and then a daughter, but in August 1967 he sexually assaulted a teenage boy and ended up with a 10-year sentence.

His wife filed for divorce, and his life was in ruins, but he was paroled after serving a mere 18 months and relocated to his hometown where with the assistance of his mother he bought the house at 8213 West Summerdale Avenue.

Shortly after, he remarried, and his new wife moved into the house with her two daughters. Gacy also changed careers, starting a building maintenance company that was soon successful. If his business thrived, his marriage didn't. Gacy always claimed he was bisexual, but the writing was on the wall. In early 1976, he and his wife were divorced on the spurious grounds of his infidelities with other women. In reality he was having sordid relationships with other men, including young men he procured through his business.

Sufjan Stevens <i>Illinoise</i> album carries a concept of famous places in Illinois, like the home of John Wayne GacySufjan Stevens Illinoise album carries a concept of famous places in Illinois, like the home of John Wayne Gacy
Gacy had a pool table in his home, and would lure his victims there to play pool and on other pretexts. Most of them ended up buried in the crawlspace beneath the house.

On December 11, 1978, a teenager named Robert Piest vanished in mysterious circumstances. His parents reported his disappearance promptly, and acting on a classic policeman's hunch, Detective Joseph Kozenczak homed in on Gacy.

The resulting investigation became the subject of a 1992 3-hour semi-documentary dramatization To Catch A Killer with Brian Dennehy in the title role.

Hoping to find the victim alive, Des Plaines police applied for a warrant to search the house, but although no trace of Robert Piest was found, other evidence in the form especially of trophies indicated that he might not have been Gacy's first victim. A second warrant led to a far more extensive search. Gacy was arrested shortly before Christmas 1978 after confessing first to his lawyer that he had murdered between 25 and 30 people.

Over the next three months, 8213 West Summerdale Avenue was excavated, and by March 16, 1979, Gacy's 29th victim was found. The body of Robert Piest was later found elsewhere.

On April 6, the authorities were granted an order to raze the building to the ground. In 1988, a new house was built on the same spot. Gacy was executed six years later.

Alexander Baron
August 11, 2016
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