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Conversations with a Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes

Updated: Nov 23

(available on Netflix)

Warning: Disturbing images and details of crimes against children

FTC Rating: 3 out of 5


John Wayne Gacy was a moderately successful businessman, often seen volunteering dressed as a clown, and rubbing elbows with Chicago’s elite. This façade successfully hid a predator until 1978 when police discovered the horrors buried below Gacy’s modest home.

This three-part docuseries focuses on the investigation and trial of the notorious “Killer Clown”, including audio recordings of Gacy captured by his defence team.


Strengths:

- A plethora of historical photos and footage

- Details of the investigation and surveillance which finally led to John Gacy’s arrest

- Reveals Gacy’s modus operandi

- The reactions of police officers during the excavation process


Weaknesses:

- The Waterloo section of episode one is extremely problematic. In this episode of the docuseries, the interviews/structure often conflate Gacy’s crimes with homosexuality, which may or may not be intentional. It should have been made crystal clear that John Gacy was a rapist, a pedophile, and a murderer, irregardless of his sexual orientation.

- The quick cut scenes. These are in a similar style to those included in “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” (see FTC review/recommendation). The inclusion of these images has a fetishizing effect which is highly inappropriate given the subject matter.


Final Thought:

- It is valid to ask if there is any probative value in the presented tapes. The docuseries made it clear that Gacy was a liar that routinely bent the truth to inflate his importance and serve his nefarious agenda. Perhaps listening to the tapes through this filter is telling…


Picture source: Netflix



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