Authorities have found the remains of as many as eight teen-age boys, and are looking for two dozen others believed to have been strangled in the last two years by a 36 year-old paroled sex offender.
The badly decomposed remains were buried in a crawl space under a brick bungalow in Norlow Park Township, an unincorporated are near O'Hare International Airport north of Chicago.
John Wayne Gacy, a self-employed decorating contractor who had lived in the bungalow since 1971, was arrested and charged with the murder of Robert Piest, 15, a high school sophomore missing from the nearby suburb of Des Plaines since Dec 11.
Gacy, who moved to Norwood Park after serving three years of a 10-year sentence in Iowa for sodomy, told Cook County sheriff's officers that more bodies are in the crawl space and that others are invarious other locations.
"He's giving all kinds of statements, saying there's a body here, a body there, a body in a lake or a lagoon, a body buried." Cook County Sheriff Richard J. Elrod said.
A top sheriff's investigator who asked not to be identified said Gacy has told police that he had sex with the boys and then strangled them. They were all young boys, and the sex "occurred in his home, after he got them there through promises of employment."
Gacy's neighbors were stunned by the arrest and sketchy details of the crimes. "He was a good neighbor," said Lill Grexa, who lives next door. Another neighbor, Tony DeLorentoz, said he knew Gacy as "a wonderful guy, a man with a heart of gold."
The neighbors said Gacy, a stocky, dark-haired man of medium height with a mustache, often dressed as a clown and entertained children in area hospitals.
Sheriff's investigators said Gacy came to their attention 10 days ago, after the disappearance of the Piest youth, who worked as a clerk in a pharmacy where Gacy recently had done remodeling.
Routine checking of Gacy's background turned up his Iowa criminal record, and authorities put him under surveillance. He was aware of the surveillance, and complained to his neighbor, DeLorentoz a few days ago that, "They're trying to pin a murder rap on me."
Additional investigation revealed that two teen-age employes of Gacy, Gregory Godzik, 17 and John Butkovich, 18, also had disappeared in recent months. With that information Des Plaines police obtained a warrant and searched Gacy's home last week, finding a roll of film that belonged to the Piest boy.
This week, sheriff's officers obtained a warrant to search the home again, and Thursday night found three lime-covered bodies in the crawl space. Remains of what are believed to be five others were unearthed today. None of the bodies were identified.
The search for additional bodies is expected to be a long, painstaking task. Authorities have called in archeologists to help preserve the chain of evidence.
Gacy was born in Chicago, and was working in a Waterloo, Iowa, restaurant in 1967 when he was arrested and charged with sodomy against a male teenager.
Iowa reords indicate that he remained free on bond until the next year, when he was charged with a burglary, and conspiracy to commit a felony. Those charges were dropped a few weeks later in exchange for Gacy's pleading guilty to the earlier sodomy charge.
In sentencing Gacy, the trial judge commented, "The particular pattern you seem to have chosen is to seek out teen-age boys and get them involved in sexual misbehavior and, as unsatisfactory in many respects as imprisonment is, at least that will ensure for some period of time that you cannot seek out teen-age boys and solicit them for immoral behavior."
Gacy was divorced from his first wife, Marilyn, while serving his term at the Iowa Men's Reformatory at Anmosa.
After his release 1971 he remarried. His second wife, Carol, obtained a divorce about three years ago, according to Gary's neighbors. There were no children from the second marriage.