When police raided serial killer John Wayne Gacy's house at 8213 West Summerdale Ave. in Chicago's Norwood Park in 1978, they uncovered 29 bodies.
In the 1970s, a nondescript house sat at 8213 W. Summerdale Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. It didn’t look like much from the street. But it was, in fact, a house of horrors. It was John Wayne Gacy’s house – the place where he murdered 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1976.
Gacy, like his house, didn’t draw much suspicion from those who knew him. He spent his days laboring as a construction worker and his free time performing as “Pogo the Clown” at children’s birthday parties.
But Gacy was a ruthless killer behind closed doors. Here’s what happened behind those closed doors of John Wayne Gacy’s house, and what happened to the infamous property after his arrest and execution.
John Wayne Gacy Before His Vicious Crimes
Born in Chicago on March 17, 1942, John Wayne Gacy had an abusive, tumultuous childhood. His father beat him, berated him as a “sissy,” and whipped him with a belt. When Gacy was seven, a family friend molested him but Gacy stayed quiet out of fear of further punishment.
Gacy kept his sexuality a secret too. As an adult, he married his first wife and had two children, Michael and Christine, but coerced younger men that he knew into sex. One, 15-year-old Donald Voorhees, worked with Gacy at the local KFC, and told his father that Gacy had forced him to have oral sex.
As a result, Gacy plead guilty to oral sodomy in December 1967. His wife divorced him and took the children, and Gacy was sent to prison.
When he got out less than two years later, John Wayne Gacy outwardly tried to return to normal life. At the dawn of the 1970s, he married his second wife and moved into a new home at 8213 West Summerdale Avenue. But John Wayne Gacy’s house would soon become the scene of dozens of depraved murders.
The Brutal Murders That Unfolded Inside John Wayne Gacy’s House
Between 1972 and 1976, John Wayne Gacy murdered at least 33 young men and boys. The killer later told police that he’d committed all his murders at his house on Summerdale Avenue.
Gacy’s job as a construction worker became his primary method of drawing in unsuspecting young men. He offered them paid, part-time work for cash, only to torture and strangle them to death.
When the ruthless killer wasn’t working or performing as “Pogo the Clown” at children’s birthday parties, he was raping and killing adolescents. The deranged serial killer only became suspect to police when several teenage boys reported him for sexual assault.
John Wayne Gacy confessed to his crimes in December 1978. Though he tried to put forward an insanity plea, Gacy was sentenced to death for 12 counts of murder in 1980.
In all, 26 bodies were discovered in the crawl space of John Wayne Gacy’s house, and three more were discovered on the adjoining property. A handful of other bodies were also discovered in the nearby Des Plaines River, where Gacy had dumped them.
But though Gacy was executed on May 10, 1994, the story of John Wayne Gacy’s house endures.
John Wayne Gacy’s House Today
Though John Wayne Gacy’s house was demolished in 1978, a new three-bedroom and two-bathroom home was built on the site in 1986. That year, the address was also changed from 8213 W. Summerdale Ave. to 8215.
Over the years, the house has been bought and sold several times. It was most recently purchased in March 2021, when the property sold for $395,000 after two years on the market. Today, the house includes a big backyard, fireplace, and updated kitchen, according to Patch.
But though the original house is no more, the investigation into the murders committed there is still ongoing. Five of the bodies recovered from John Wayne Gacy’s house remain unidentified, and officials are still working to figure out who these people were before Gacy killed them.
In that way, this serial killer’s house still has a very haunting legacy. Though the property has changed since John Wayne Gacy occupied it, it remains the site of an open murder investigation.