Authors: Clifford L. Linedecker
Tags: #Social Science, #Criminology
The Man Who Killed Boys
Clifford L. Linedecker
garrett county press
Also by Clifford L. Lindecker:
My Life With Elvis
(with Becky Yancey)
Country Music Stars and the Supernatural
Copyright © 1980 by Clifford L. Linedecker
All rights reserved.
Garrett County Press Digital Edition 2013
For information, please address:
At the time of this writing John Wayne Gacy, Jr., was still awaiting trial, and he must be assumed innocent until proven guilty.
A President is shot down before thousands of witnesses, a school bus loaded with children is kidnapped, a religious fanatic forces hundreds of his followers to drink poison, and an individual known for his industry, generosity, and neighborliness is arrested in the sex-slayings of thirty-three young men and boys.
The incidents capture our attention for a while until some new horror occurs to eclipse the old. For a time there is shock and grief, but hardly any surprise. Politics by assassination, terrorism, and mass murder have become too commonplace. The perpetrators in some ways are like the professional gunmen of the Old West who reigned as the "fastest gun" until, inevitably, they were replaced by someone new.
The chain of atrocities in my own lifetime has seen a succession of American mass killers, all reaping successively higher tolls, that has included Howard Unruh, Charles J. Whitman, Richard Speck, Juan V. Corona, and the team of Dean Corll and Elmer Wayne Henley.
Now John Wayne Gacy, Jr. has been accused of eclipsing the toll of twenty-seven dead in the Houston slayings of Corll and Henley. But I have no doubt that some day even the grisly record of dead attributed to Gacy, that rotund amateur clown who reputedly used his contracting business to attract young male victims for sadistic torture, homosexual rape, and murder, will also be eclipsed.
But it will be difficult to overshadow or even match the grisly ruthlessness of the murders that occurred in suburban Chicago. The murders are personally significant to me because I live in such close proximity to where they originated and occurred. My home is in the center of New Town, and almost every day I pass the clubs, discos, and street corners where many of the victims were apparently picked up by their killer. I know the street people, and I know people who have been friends, business associates, and neighbors of the man accused of some of the most horrifying crimes of the century.
I will also remember the murders because they so eloquently illustrate some of the serious flaws in our criminal justice system, which make anyone a potential victim of violent crime. The slayings expose both the worst of the system, and—thanks to the work of a relatively small but well-trained and dedicated suburban police department—the best.
A court order enjoining authorities and others from discussing the case prevented me from obtaining interviews with several policemen and others close to the investigation. Dozens of other people were available and cooperative, however. They were of immense help in compiling information for the book. Thanks to their consideration, it was possible, though difficult, to complete the research. It was necessary to work harder and dig more industriously, but the information was there to be mined.
Among individuals and organizations who gave of their time or facilities to assist in the book were: Jack Hovelson, of the Waterloo Bureau of the
Des Moines Register;
Chris Baum and Carolyn Lenz, of the
newspapers, Division of
, Chicago; Barbara Buell, of the
State Journal Register
of Springfield, Illinois; Tim Dahlberg of the
Las Vegas Review-Journal;
Leslie Griffin, police reporter for the
Don N. Jensen of the
Micki Winfield; Richard Crowe; Mary Benninghoff; Kathy Gunther; former friends, neighbors, and business associates of John Wayne Gacy, and parents of victims who willingly talked to me, as well as others related to the case in a more official capacity who cannot be named.
My thanks also go to the friendly people in the Black Hawk County Courthouse in Waterloo; the County Clerk's Office in the criminal courts complex in Chicago; and to the staffs of the public libraries in both Chicago and Waterloo.
Finally, it should be noted that the names of Donald and Lydia Czarna and of their son-in-law, Gregory Katelanos, are aliases, in accordance with their wishes, as is "Kotowski," the maiden name of John Gacy's second wife, and James Tullery, Mark Miller and Dwight Andersson.
Christmas-tree lights were already twinkling from the windows of the neatly kept single-story brick homes in Norwood Park township, an unincorporated area just outside the northwest boundaries of Chicago.
A biting wind swept across the tidy lawns, and twenty-nine-degree cold frosted the windows of the cars and pickup trucks parked on freshly plowed driveways and along snowy curbs.
By December 2, Chicagoans have accepted the arrival of cold, snowy winter weather and they plan their activities accordingly. In Norwood Park that means that many people had merely moved their weekend parties from backyards outfitted with picnic tables and barbecue pits, indoors to dens and living rooms or to basement recreation areas where guests could perch on stools in front of bars and relax in the snug comfort of sofas and easy chairs.
The families in Norwood Park, like those in the nearby communities of Norridge, Des Plaines, Niles, and in the far northwest side of Chicago, are made up of people who work in area printing shops, chemical laboratories, and factories that produce everything from screws and machine tools to surgical instruments and cutlery. They had long ago grown accustomed to ear-shattering blasts of noise from the engines of jets skimming low over their houses on their way to or from busy Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
The approach of the holiday season was making itself known in increased traffic at O'Hare, already the world's busiest air terminal, as travelers rushed to beat the almost impossible crush anticipated in a few weeks. It was also the busiest time of the year for Florece Branson, a onetime Iowa farm girl who had worked in her daddy's restaurants near Des Moines and Grinnell as a teenager before riding a bus to Chicago with a girl friend during World War II.
Widowed after eighteen years of marriage, during which she and her printer husband had moved to the northwest suburb of Rolling Meadows, she had taught herself to make a good living as a psychic and card reader.
Her system was unusual. She used a twenty-four card euchre deck, and, as she had been taught by a gypsy friend, relied on not only the pattern of the cards as they were dealt face up, but also on the psychic impressions that they stimulated.
She coined a professional name for herself by dropping the "n" from "Florence," and became well-enough known locally to obtain regular work as a reader four nights a week at a popular Italian restaurant and lounge at the far northwestern edge of Chicago. She also built up a private clientele who consulted her in an office she set aside in her home, and she regularly read at house parties.
Donald and Lydia Czarna, clients and close personal friends, asked her to read for about a dozen people, at a house party on December 2, 1978. Seated at a wooden card table set up in a small utility room used as an office near the kitchen of the bungalow, Florece had read for a half dozen guests, some of whom she remembered from previous parties, when the door opened and a big-bellied man she had never seen before walked in.
His cheeks were soft, with jowls that slumped wearily into a double chin, brushed blue black by dark but recently shaven whiskers. A Charlie Chaplin moustache, darker than his carefully styled, gray-flecked brown hair, helped dispel what might otherwise have been an almost cherubic appearance. Despite his bulk and obvious exhaustion, he wore his clothes well. The checkered gray-and-brown sport jacket, vivid red-striped tie, white shirt, and brown trousers gave his bulky frame the appearance of strength rather than flab.
But it wasn't the way he wore his clothes that impressed the reader. It was the uneasy foreboding of danger that seemed to follow him into the room. Her initial uneasy psychic impression was intensified when she half stood in her chair and leaned forward to shake his hand.
There was just time to brush his fingers and feel the moistness before he pulled his hand away. He nodded and muttered his name as he stared at her with unblinking, blue eyes that were rimmed with dirty yellow. He then eased warily into the straight-back chair across from her.
When Florece reads, she hands the cards to her client to shuffle. Then she takes them back, lays the deck on the table, and asks for a three-way cut. That's the last time the client touches the cards. Working from the left, she begins turning them up, arranging them one at a time into a three-tiered pattern of four cards each.
Taking the deck from the reader, the man balanced the ends of the cards on the fat inside ridges of his wide palms and quickly riffled them three times, then slapped the deck back on the table, still not taking his eyes off her. Diamonds on a ring that encircled a chubby left-hand finger glimmered as they winked at the light.
Florece's thoughts flashed to the image of a gigantic grizzly as she watched his hands. They were huge and powerful with stubby, fat fingers and nails that had been trimmed or bitten to the quick. A tiny scar stood out as a crescent of white flesh on one of his little fingers. Unusually broad palms made his hands look blocky. Florece studied hands closely. She was not a palmist, but the shape and condition of hands can provide valuable clues to the personality, occupation, and emotional state of the owner.
When she asked him to cut, he lifted the top cards with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, and dropped two stacks next to those he had left untouched. Florece began turning up the cards. As they were flipped face-up, she talked of their significance, disclosed by the pattern forming on the tabletop as well as by her psychic impressions.
Her initial discomfort increased as the ace of hearts was placed on the table, surrounded by jacks, which in turn were separated by spades. Most disturbing was the inverted ace of spades, a certain indicator of danger or tragedy.
To the reader's trained eye and psychically attuned mind, the jacks represented young men grouped around the house card. They were surrounded by darkness.
"You have boyfriends," she ventured, posing the remark as a half question.
Although the reader shifted in her chair from time to time, the solidly built man seated across from her never moved. He never changed expression or moved his hamlike hands from his knees. His stare was as unemotional as warm milk.
"You mean friends, people I drink with?" he asked.
"No, I mean young men you have a ... a different interest in. You're attracted to them romantically."
The uneasiness bothering Florece was growing. She had read for homosexuals before, and although she was personally repelled by what her Iowa farm upbringing had taught her was sinful and perverse, it was more than that. It wasn't his homosexuality that bothered her. The man was evil.
"That's just something I fantasize about," he murmured without animation. "It's one of those things you wonder about sometimes." His eyes remained locked, unblinking, on Florece's. His responses to her comments and questions were defensive, as if he were in a contest with her. He was curious, yet protective and jealous of his privacy.
His lack of emotion and movement was upsetting. He moved hardly at all, interrupting his passivity only once when he reached one hand to his face and brushed lightly at his cheek as if to smooth away the tiredness and the tension with a touch of his fingertips.
When Florece said she saw a young woman in his house, he corrected her. He was divorced, he said, and there was no woman in his life. He was argumentative. "I see some work being done by a woman. She's a woman with light hair.