Serial killer John Wayne Gacy tried to 'manipulate' criminal profiler in newly disclosed death row letter

Unearthed letter, questionnaire and pamphlet written by Gacy

 Illinois serial killer John Wayne Gacy made such creepy demands to a criminal profiler that the psychoanalyst gave up on his attempts to interview him a year before he faced the death penalty at the Stateville prison.

The "Killer Clown" sent a pamphlet maintaining his innocence and demanded the profiler fill out a questionnaire full of personal questions and send it back with a photo.

"My policy is simple no photo, no answer with bio sheet in full," Gacy wrote to John Kelly in April 1993 – just over a year before his execution, which happened 29 years ago today.

Kelly, who has interviewed a number of serial killers, wanted to add Gacy to his list.


John Wayne Gacy shown in portrait and profile mug shots

Serial killer John Wayne Gacy posed for the above Des Plaines Police Department mug shot in December 1978. ((Photo by Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images))

There are many types of serial killers, Kelly said. Gacy, already a convicted sex offender prior to his murder spree, was classified as "sexual serial killer."

Like other murderers with a sex motive, he grew up with an abusive father who was both violent and an alcoholic, according to Kelly.

"No photo, no answer…"

"This is how serial killers are made," Kelly told Fox News Digital. However, he was hoping to study the killer as an adult, after 15 years behind bars.

Gacy, however, had a series of demands for people who reached out to him.

"If you want to submit some questions in writing, then I would be willing to answer them so long as they don't deal with my case," Gacy wrote. "In doing so whenever I talk with anyone I like to know who that is and some common facts about them enclosed is a bio sheet which you can fill out and return with a photo."


John Wayne Gacy's letter to criminal profiler John Kelly (Mobile users go here)

Gacy was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys between 1970 and 1978.

"I am nobody important, just a man caught up in the justice system," Gacy claimed in the brief missive, asking to be called John or JW instead of "Mr. Gacy."

The exchange of letters with Kelly came roughly as he was sitting on death row in Illinois' Stateville Correctional Center.

John Wayne Gacy in his clown costume

John Wayne Gacy was an amateur clown in his local community. (Marty Zielinski)

Kelly said he viewed the requests as the killer's attempt to gain leverage on him to try and convince him to argue for his innocence, so he never filled out the questionnaire.

"He was trying to find ways to manipulate me," Kelly told Fox News Digital. "Based on what he wanted to see, and based on the propaganda he wanted me to peddle for him."

With his response, Gacy also sent a self-produced pamphlet, questioning the overwhelming evidence used to convict him and printed up in prison, Kelly said.

"They Called Him the Killer Clown: But Is JW Gacy a Mass Murderer or Another Victim?" the headline reads.

placeholderRead John Wayne Gacy's self-produced ‘propaganda’ pamphlet (Mobile users go here)Gacy was primarily a contractor, but he garnered the "Killer Clown" nickname because he moonlighted as a costumed clown and performed for children.

In his pamphlet, Gacy claimed that a dozen employees of his construction business had keys to the house.

Police arrested him in December 1978 and recovered dozens of bodies buried at his home. They belonged to men and boys who had been kidnapped, tortured and raped. He strangled most of them and stabbed at least one. 

A photo of John Wayne Gacy's painted self-portrait in clown costume

John Wayne Gacy created this self-portrait of himself in his "Pogo the Clown" costume. (Steve Eichner/WireImage)

At least five of his victims remain unidentified today, according to the Cook County Sheriff's Office, and one was identified as recently as 2021.


The questionnaire demanded personal information like date of birth and marital status, as well as political orientation, New Year's resolution and the respondent's "current hero."

Others were more thought-provoking. "If I were an animal I'd be;" "Friends like me because;" "What I think of this country."

placeholderRead John Wayne Gacy's questionnaire (Mobile users go here)He wanted to know about artistic interests, "thoughts on sex" and "what your (sic) thinking now."

Gacy's letter is dated April 9, 1993. Kelly said he had shown it to friends over the years but never made it public.

The questionnaire itself appears to have been sent to other people who wanted to interview Gacy before his 1994 execution.


Police vehicle and dumpster outside John Wayne Gacy's house

A police vehicle and a dumpster outside John Wayne Gacy's Illinois home on Dec. 26, 1978, days after his arrest. Police found 26 bodies buried in the crawl space under his home, three more in the garage and another four in a river. (Bettmann via Getty Images)

In a New Yorker profile published a month before he received a lethal injection, interviewer Alec Wilkinson revealed some of Gacy's own answers to the survey.

He viewed himself as a "Liberal, with values," whose biggest fear was "dying before I have a chance to clear my name."

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