John Wayne Gacy became one of the nation’s worst serial killers in the 1970s when he lured young boys and men to his home, where many were handcuffed and repeatedly raped. Most were strangled after Gacy tricked them into allowing him to slip a rope around their necks, then slowly twisted it tighter and tighter with a stick. One of those victims was identified Wednesday, leaving six still unidentified. The following is a timeline of Gacy’s life and the case:
March 17, 1942: Gacy is born in Chicago.
1972-1978: Gacy, a building contractor who works as “Pogo the Clown” at children’s parties, lures young men and boys to his home just outside of Chicago for sex, then strangles them. He stabs one victim.
December 1978: Gacy comes to the attention of authorities after 15-year-old Robert Piest turns up missing in Des Plaines, Illinois.
Dec. 21, 1978: The first of Gacy’s victims is found in a crawl space under his ranch-style house by police executing a search warrant.
March 1980: Gacy is convicted of killing 33 young men and boys, and sentenced to death.
May 10, 1994: Gacy is executed by lethal injection at Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet.
Oct. 12, 2011: The Cook County Sheriff’s Department announces that it is undertaking a new effort to identify the remains of eight Gacy victims whose names still were not known. The agency says DNA testing that wasn’t available when the remains were found in 1978 could help in the effort.
Nov. 29, 2011: Cook County identifies one of the victims as William George Bundy, a 19-year-old construction worker from Chicago.
July 19, 2017: Cook County identifies 16-year-old James “Jimmie” Byron Haakenson as one of Gacy’s victims. The teenager had left his Minnesota home in 1976 and was last heard from in August of that year. Haakenson was one of eight of Gacy’s victims who were buried without being identified.