The Serial Killer Compendium, p.9R. J. Parker
John Szyc, nineteen, was a friend of Gregory Godzik and John Butkovich. On January 20th, 1977, he too disappeared. Gacy lured him to his house with the pretext of selling his car to Gacy. John was killed and buried in the crawl space above the body of his friend, Gregory. Gacy then sold John Szyc’s car to another of his employees. On March 15th, he then killed Jon Prestidge, age twenty, a young man who was visiting friends in Chicago.
Between July and December 1977, Gacy killed another seven young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one, including the son of a Chicago police sergeant. In August 1977, a clue emerged to the disappearance of John Szyc. The employee to whom Gacy had sold Szyc's car was arrested for stealing gasoline from a station while driving the car. When questioned by police, Gacy told officers that Szyc had sold the car to him before leaving town. The police did not pursue the matter further.
Robert Donnelly, nineteen, was abducted by Gacy at gunpoint from a Chicago bus stop on December 30th, 1977. Gacy brought Robert to his house, tortured him with numerous devices, and raped him. Many times, he dunked Robert’s head in a bathtub of water until he passed out. Then Gacy would revive him and repeat all over again. Robert was not killed, thank God, and he later testified at Gacy’s trial that he was in so much pain that he asked to be killed, to get it over with. Gacy released him after several hours of torture and assault, and Robert went to the police. On January 6th, 1978, Gacy was questioned about the crime and admitted to having slave sex with Donnelly, but that it was consensual and guess what, the police believed him, and no charges were filed.
A month later, on February 16th, 1978, William Kindred, nineteen, disappeared after telling his fiancée that he was spending an evening at a bar. William was the last victim to be buried in the crawl space as it was getting full. Gacy deposited future victims in the Des Plaines River.
The next month, Gacy lured Jeffrey Rignall, twenty-six, into his car, where he instantly chloroformed him and returned with him to his house. Jeffrey was tortured and repeatedly raped into unconsciousness, then driven to Lincoln Park where he was discarded, unconscious but alive, and managed to stagger to his girlfriend's apartment. Police were again informed of the assault, but did not investigate Gacy because Jeffrey knew few details about his assailant, only remembering later that he’d been taken in a black Oldsmobile.
A few weeks later, in April, Jeffrey and his friends staked out the exit on the Expressway where he knew he had been driven until he saw Gacy's distinctive black Oldsmobile. Rignall and his friends then followed Gacy to his house at 8213 West Summerdale street. Shortly after, Jeffrey went to the police. A warrant was issued, and Gacy was arrested on July 15th, 1978.
While Gacy was awaiting trial for the assault of Jeffrey, on December 11th, 1978 he went into a pharmacy to discuss a remodeling job with the storeowner, Phil Torf. Robert Piest, fifteen, overhearing Gacy telling Torf that his firm hired teenage boys, told his mother that a contractor wanted to talk to him about a job, and left the store to talk with the contractor, never to return. The boy’s mom filed a missing persons report and the owner of the store told police that the boy left the store to talk to John Gacy. The police called Gacy the next day and he denied even talking to the boy, promising to come to the station to make a statement confirming what he said. He arrived at the police station the next day covered in mud, claiming that he’d been in a car accident, and totally denied any involvement in the boy’s disappearance.
When the police did a background check on Gacy, they discovered he was awaiting trial on battery charges, and that he had served time in Iowa for sodomy. Based on this information, the police believed Gacy was lying and involved with the disappearance of Robert Piest. The police requested a search warrant of Gacy’s property, which was granted on December 13th, 1978.
Several suspicious items were revealed during the search: driver’s licenses for different people, a high school ring engraved 1975, books on homosexuality and pederasty, handcuffs, a piece of two-by-four with holes drilled in the ends, a syringe, boys’ clothing, and a photo receipt from the pharmacy where Robert Piest worked part-time. While police continued with their investigation, they decided to assign two two-man surveillance teams to follow Gacy. Gacy, however, picked up on the surveillance and demanded the police cease their operation. When they did not comply, Gacy filed a three quarter million dollar civil law suit against the Des Plaines Police Department. The hearing was scheduled for December 22nd, 1978.
Meanwhile, the investigation continued, and interesting things started to pop up. Police were informed of Gacy’s employee, Gregory Godzik’s disappearance, the disappearance of John Butkovich, and that the high school ring found in Gacy’s house belonged to another missing person, John Szyc. Another employee revealed that Gacy made him dig trenches in the crawl space of Gacy’s house.
On the 21st of December, just one day before Gacy’s civil suit against the police, a second warrant was obtained to search his house; in particular, to search the crawl space. Upon digging in the crawl space, police discovered several human bones.
Gacy told police officers that he wanted to “clear the air” after being informed that they had found human remains. While being interrogated, Gacy confessed to the police that since 1972, he had murdered approximately twenty-five to thirty people. He went on to tell the police and the district attorney about how he would abduct his victims, torture them, rape them, and eventually kill them and dispose of their bodies.
Gacy said that he would pour quicklime into the crawl space from time to time to hasten the decomposition of the corpses, and said that he had lost count of the number of victims he’d buried there. He told police that the last five victims were thrown off the I-55 bridge into the Des Plaines river as the crawl space under his house had become full. He confessed to strangling young Robert Piest and disposing of his body in the river. He told them he had buried John Butkovitch under his garage. Police eventually recovered four of the five victims in the river.
Between December 1978 and March 1979, criminal technicians commenced to search and remove bodies from Gacy’s property. In total, twenty-nine bodies were unearthed, giving families back their loved ones for proper burial. In several cases, bodies still had the ligatures knotted around their necks. Others had gags deep down in their throats.
Identifying the victims took time. Some were identified through their known connection with Gacy. Others by personal affects found at the property. One victim, Michael Bonnin, seventeen, was identified when his fishing license was found at the scene. Of Gacy's identified victims, the youngest were Samuel Stapleton, fourteen, and Michael Marino, fourteen. The oldest were Russell Nelson, twenty-one, and James Mazzara, twenty-one. Eight of the victims have yet to be identified.
On April 9th, 1979, Robert Piest's body was discovered on the banks of the Des Plaines River. His autopsy revealed that paper-like material had been shoved down his throat while he was alive.
On February 6th, 1980, the trial of John Wayne Gacy started in Chicago before Judge Louis Garippo. Gacy was charged with thirty-three counts of murder. Due to the overwhelming media attention in Chicago, the jurors had to be selected from Rockford, Illinois.
Before going to trial, Gacy’s lawyers spent hundreds of hours with doctors at the Menard Correctional Center while psychiatrists conducted tests to determine whether Gacy was mentally fit to stand trial. Gacy, with all his wisdom, tried to convince the doctors that he suffered from multiple personality disorder, but the doctor’s decided otherwise. His lawyers opted to plead not guilty by reason of insanity, and did manage to find experts who testified at the trial that they believed Gacy to be a paranoid schizophrenic who indeed suffered from multiple personality disorders. The prosecution’s experts, however, stated that Gacy was sane and in full control of his actions. They produced numerous witnesses to testify that his actions were premeditated. Employees testified about digging trenches for Gacy, whi
The trial went into its fifth week with the prosecution bringing in dozens of people to testify. The defense only brought in a few people, which infuriated Gacy. On March 11th, 1980, both sides began their final arguments. Terry Sullivan, the prosecutor, presented a summary of Gacy’s history of abuse on youths and recapped the testimony given by the surviving witnesses, Donnelly and Voorhees, who had been abused and tortured. After four hours of summation, Robert Motta, for the defense, rebutted the doctor’s testimony for the prosecution and tried to portray Gacy as a “man driven by compulsions he was unable to control.”
It took the jury less than two hours deliberation to find John Wayne Gacy guilty of all thirty three murders. The defense asked for life without parole, but the prosecution was adamant that he wanted a death sentence for Gacy, which had only came into effect in June of 1977 in the state of Illinois. The jury deliberated again on the fate of Gacy and in only two hours sentenced him to death.
On May 9th, 1994, Gacy was transferred to the Stateville Correctional Center to be executed. That afternoon he was allowed a picnic on the prison grounds with his family. That evening, a priest prayed with him before going to the chamber.
Prior to beginning of the execution, the chemicals unexpectedly solidified, clogging the I.V. tubing so that the team had to replace the clogged tube and start over. The procedure took eighteen minutes to complete. Before the chemicals started to flow, Gacy was asked if he had any last words. His reply was, “Kiss my ass.” William Kunkle was one of the prosecutors. He summed up the execution pretty good by saying, “He still got a much easier death than any of his victims. In my opinion he got an easier death than he deserved, but the important thing is that he paid for his crimes with his life."
Theodore “Ted” Bundy was born on November 24th, 1946 in Burlington, Vermont, to Eleanor Cowell. The identity of his father was never determined. It is suspected that Bundy’s father was Eleanor’s abusive and violent father, Sam Cowell. Bundy was raised by his grandparents in Philadelphia, told that they were his parents and Eleanor was his big sister. Bundy didn’t find out the truth about his birth records until 1969 and then resented his mother for lying about his identity.
At nineteen years old, Bundy spent one year at the (UPS) University of Puget Sound. In 1965, he dropped out, and the next year enrolled in Chinese studies at the University of Washington, from which he graduated in 1972. After graduating, Bundy joined Governor Daniel Evan’s reelection campaign. Evan’s was reelected, and subsequently Bundy was hired as an assistant to the Ross Davis, Chairman of the Washington State Republican Party, who described Bundy as aggressive and smart. In 1973, Bundy was accepted into the law school at UPS to become a lawyer.
Assault, and Murders in Seattle, Washington
On January 4th, 1974, Joni Lenz, eighteen years old, a student at the University of Washington, was alone in her basement apartment when Bundy entered, battered her with a metal rod, and raped her with it, causing her massive internal injuries. Lenz remained unconscious for ten days, and lived through the attack, albeit with permanent brain damage. In February, Bundy struck again, late at night. Lynda Ann Healy, twenty-one, was a student at the University of Washington and a radio weather broadcaster for a Seattle radio station. Bundy broke into her room, beat her unconscious, dressed her, and then carried her away. Her skull was later found on Taylor Mountain. In March, Donna Gail Manson, nineteen, a student at The Evergreen State College, left her dorm on her way to a concert but never made it. To this day, her body had never been found.
Susan Elaine Rancourt, nineteen, disappeared on April 17th, 1974. Susan was abducted from the campus of Central Washington State University in Ellensburg while on her way to meet a friend to see a movie. Her skull too was later found on Taylor Mountain. That night, two other female students suffered attempted abductions, and reported that the man had been wearing his an arm in a sling, and had asked for help to carry books to his Volkswagen Beetle. It seemed that Bundy was taking one female student per month, which indicated a “cooling off” period according to FBI profilers.
Roberta Kathleen Parks, twenty-three, left her dorm at Oregon State University to have coffee with her friends on May 6th, 1974, and never arrived. Her skull was later found on Taylor Mountain, but not her body. It is interesting to note that, in 1974, Bundy worked at the Washington State Department of Emergency Services, the government agency involved in the search for these missing women.
In the meantime, citizens, students, and parents alike, were concerned about the missing young females, as was the Seattle Police Department, and in particular the Crimes Against Persons Unit. Unfortunately, the police did not have much to go on; there was little to no physical evidence found, and the only common factor between the attacks was that the girls were all white college students, attractive, and wore their hair long and parted in the middle.
On June 1st , 1974, another young girl went missing. Brenda Carol Ball, twenty-two, was last seen leaving the Flame Tavern in Burien talking with a man who had his arm in a sling. Brenda’s body was never found, but her skull was found on Taylor Mountain. Just ten days later, on June 11th, another University of Washington student, Georgeann Hawkins, twenty-two, disappeared while walking between her sorority house and her boyfriend’s dorm residence. The CSI searched the area with a fine toothed comb and came up with nothing. Once the disappearance of Georgeann was made public, witnesses came forward and reported seeing a man that night on crutches with his leg in a cast. One young woman said that the man asked her to help him carry his briefcase to his brown Volkswagen Beetle. Georgeann’s bones were later found with two other bodies near Lake Sammamish Park. Her remains were cremated accidentally by the coroner's office along with those of unidentified persons.
The missing young women and the brutal attack on Joni Lenz attracted significant exposure from television and newspapers throughout the states of Oregon and Washington. Hitchhiking by women dropped off and the general population lived in fear. The police had no evidence, only a general description of the assailant and his Beetle. Then a month later, on July 14th, and in broad daylight, two women were abducted from a crowded beach at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. The abduction was witnessed by five females who gave a description to authorities: a young handsome man wearing a white tennis outfit with his left arm in a sling, and who spoke with a slight accent, perhaps Canadian or British. He told the girls that his name was Ted and he’d asked for help to unload a small boat from his Volkswagen Beetle. One girl offered to help him, but when she got close to the car and realized that he did not have a boat, she ran off. Three witnesses reported seeing him approach Janice Anne Ott, twenty-three, a probation caseworker at the court, who left with Bundy. Her body was never discovered. Also on the same day, about four hours later, Denise Naslund, eighteen, was having a picnic and went to the bathroom at the beach. Her body was found two months later.
Because of witnesses providing detailed information about Bundy, the police provided the public with a suspect description and car details and posted fliers all around the Seattle area. A sketch of the abductor was printed in newspapers and broadcast on the TV stations. Several women, including now crime author, Ann Rule, who had once worked with Bundy, recognized the sketch and the car and reported to the police that it was Ted Bundy in the picture. Detectives, however, found it hard to believe that a clean-cut law student with absolutely no criminal record could be the perpetrator.
On September 6th, 1974, hunters stumbled across skeletal remains in the woods in Issaquah. The bones were later identified as those of Janice Ott and Georgeann Hawkins. Six months later, several skulls were found on Taylor Mountain; all were damaged from a blunt instrument.
Murders in Idaho, Utah, Colorado
Bundy received an acceptance letter from the University of Utah Law School in August,
After Bundy moved to Utah, young women started to disappear. On September 2nd, he strangled and raped a hitchhiker in Idaho who, to this day, has yet to be identified, and the next day returned to where he dumped her to dismember and photograph her corpse. Exactly one month later on October 2nd, Nancy Wilcox, sixteen, was taken and brought into a wooded area where Bundy raped and killed her by strangulation. Her body was never found.
Melissa Smith, seventeen, was the daughter of the Chief of Police in Midvale, Utah. Melissa left a pizza parlor where she had been visiting with her friends, but never arrived home. Her body was found on October 27th in Summit Park, nine days after she’d been abducted. The autopsy indicated that she might have remained alive for up to seven days before she was killed. On October 31st, Laura Aime, seventeen, also disappeared after leaving a café. Her body was found by hikers in American Fork Canyon. She had been sodomized, raped, beaten, and strangled.
Carol DaRonch, eighteen, is alive and well, and one brave young woman. She is today the only living victim of Ted Bundy. Carol was at a mall window-shopping in November when a man presented himself as Office Roseland of the Murray Police Department and told Carol that someone had tried to break into her car. He asked if she would come with him to the station to file a complaint. When Carol pointed out that Bundy was driving on a road that did not lead to the police station, he immediately pulled to the shoulder and attempted to handcuff her. Carol got a lucky break. During their struggle Bundy unintentionally fastened both handcuffs to the same wrist, and DaRonch was able to open the car door and escape, but not before Bundy threatened her with a gun. Swinging a crowbar, DaRonch screamed, scratched, and squirmed, untl finally she burst out of the car. Carol immediately went to the police and gave her account of an attempted kidnapping, which subsequently gained disturbing weight when Debra Kent's disappearance was reported later that evening. The next morning, investigators found a handcuff key in the high school parking lot. Later that same evening, Debra Kent, seventeen, a student at Viewmont High School in Bountiful, disappeared after leaving a theater production at the school to pick up her brother. The school's drama teacher, and a student, told police that a stranger had asked each of them to come out to the parking lot to identify a car. Another student later saw the same man pacing in the rear of the auditorium, and the drama teacher spotted him again shortly before the end of the play. Debra’s body has never been found to this day.
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