In the early 1970s John Wayne Gacy was regarded as an upstanding citizen. To all who encountered him, Gacy seemed normal, he was a loving husband, the proud manager of three Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, and vice president of the regional United States Junior Chamber, a government initiative which focused on community service and education, but his contribution to the community didn’t just stop there…
His alter ego was called “Pogo the Clown”. He would dress up as a clown and perform events to help raise money for local charities. Many sick children in hospitals were known to have received visits from “Pogo”. Yet sadly, beneath the floorboards of his house, were 33 raped and tortured teenage boys bodies.
On death row, John Wayne Gacy spent the last 14 years of his life oil painting. Now known by the appellation the “Killer Clown”, Gacy poured out the darkness which lurked deep within him and imprinted this onto the canvasses which filled his lonely hours whilst in prison.
Such an awful presence is said to come from these paintings. Many have purchased Gacy’s paintings with the express intention of experiencing the murderous artists’ thoughts. By no means was the paintings masterpieces, but Gacy’s artwork sparked an interest within those who sought to own them.
In 1994, to coincide with Gacy’s execution by lethal injection, 300 people travelled to Napperville, Illinois, to watch 25 of his painting burn upon a pyre. Amongst the audience were some of the family members of Gacy’s victims.
However, not all of the paintings were destroyed. There is one painting in particular that is claimed to have absorbed Gacy’s murderous instinct. After the Killer Clown’s execution in 1994, the Pogo the Clown painting passed hands several times. By now, many had claimed to feel Gacy’s murderous spirit from the painting. None of its owners could stand to have the piece of artwork for too long. Singer, Nikki Stone, purchased Gacy’s painting for $3,000 in 2001. Soon afterwards, Stone would attribute a series of tragedies to the piece’s dark aura. His dog died and his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Increasingly worried about the painting’s affect on his life, Stone arranged to have it stored at a friend’s house, whose neighbour suddenly died in a car crash. A second friend then offered to look after the piece and shortly after the man attempted suicide after staring at the haunting of Gacy’s Pogo. Speaking to the Boston Herald in 2005, Stone admitted that even after owning it for several years he had never hung the eerie painting.
“I just want to get rid of it.”
Shawn McCarron, another of Stone’s friends who also had the painting, also revealed that:
“People do ask to see it. They get a chill through their body. I’ve had people say, ‘Oh my God, put that back in the box.’ ”
Another famous owner of the piece was the actor, Johnny Depp. Yet, the painting repulsed him so much, that he developed a pathological fear of clowns. He could no longer bring himself to look upon the haunting image of Pogo, and so it changed hands once again. The painting as since sold again in October 2017 and there is now replicas being made.
Stephen King’s ‘It’, was published in 1986, not long after the Gacy’s case his prosecution played out all over the media. King says his direct inspiration was the idea writing a story about a troll under a bridge, but he had also said he wanted to play on a childhood fear of clowns. That fear was probably driven into overdrive when moms told their kids in the ’80s to behave, or a killer clown like Gacy might get them, as a cautionary tale.