Why Was Robert Piest’s Disappearance Treated More Seriously Than John Wayne Gacy’s Other Victims?

While investigators eventually could invest the pieces together to uncover that murderer John Wayne Gacy was behind a rash of missing persons cases in chicago, it had been once a lot of his victims were ignored as runaways.

A large number of youthful men and boys disappeared between 1972 and 1978, when Gacy was arrested. 

John Butkovich, 18, was one of several teen victims who labored for Gacy’s construction business, PDM Contractors. He disappeared in 1975 on his method to collect his final paycheck from Gacy. His remains were later based in the garage from the killer’s Plusieurs Plaines, Illinois home.

Another worker, 17-year-old Gregory Godzik, disappeared in 1976. When initially contacted concerning the disappearance, Gacy simply claimed the boy had run away but his remains were later found one of the 29 physiques found hidden inside a crude mass grave within the crawl space under Gacy’s house, the Chicago Tribune reported in 2018. 

It had been obvious then that Godzik had not try to escape, however that narrative apparently was a simple one for police force to simply accept during the time of his disappearance. And there have been a lot more like him, as explored within the new docuseries John Wayne Gacy: Demon in Disguise,” available now on Peacock. The work requires a fresh consider the Gacy situation, featuring interviews with investigators, prosecutors, and victims’ family people, in addition to rare footage of the prison interview Gacy gave in 1992, 2 yrs before his execution.

John Szyc, 19, disappeared in The month of january of 1977 and the family reported him missing. Within the docuseries, relatives express their frustration about how exactly he was ignored like a runaway by police. Investigators even trusted Gacy, who had been considered a decent person in society because of his business and political connections, in addition to his charitable work, like a witness the serial killer told them that Szyc offered him his vehicle to consume enough money to depart town. Government bodies apparently believed him.

Other great tales: Robert Winch, 18, had gone to live in Chicago from Michigan after you have in danger after he ran from a promote home. He disappeared in November of 1977. There was Timothy O’Rourke, 20, who disappeared in June of 1978, and it was noted for frequenting gay bars. There is also John Mowery, a 19-year-old Marine whose sister was murdered six years earlier. He disappeared in September 1977. 

Gacy also targeted actual runaways, sometimes individuals who were shunned by their very own family simply because they were gay. James Byron Haakenson, 16,  ran from his home in Minnesota in 1976 after feeling like he was unwelcome because of his sexuality, the Huffington Publish reported in 2017.

Its keep was Jeffrey Rignall, a 26-year-old gay man whom Gacy asked into his vehicle in March 1978, ostensibly to smoke marijuana. He was chloroformed, strongly raped and beaten by Gacy, but survived the encounter. After being freed through the killer following a harrowing ordeal, Rignall visited law enforcement, but despite his apparent physical wounds and chloroform burns on his face, government bodies didn’t take his account from the attack too seriously, chalking it to the challenges from the gay sex scene, because the docuseries notes.

Dr. Sherry Hamby, a research professor of psychology in the College from the South, told that many people, even while mere children, are considered “throwaways” by society. They are individuals who frequently originate from damaged homes and live “on the perimeter.” She stated they frequently fall with the cracks and therefore are frequently not correctly investigated when they set off the radar.

“Predators like Gacy are very well acquainted with this,” Hamby, who also runs ResilienceCon, a yearly convention that concentrates on stopping and answering violence, told She stated that killers like Gacy have learned how you can identify people who will probably be overlooked greater than other potential victims. 

In addition, she noted that those who are considered runaways, particularly throughout the era when Gacy was positively killing, are frequently blamed for his or her own conditions. Police or even the public sometimes assume there is a problem using the missing youthful person while in reality there is either some abuse happening both at home and they didn’t try to escape whatsoever, she stated.

“I think blaming victims or ignoring victims allows us to pretend that we’re safe,” she stated.

It required military services weapons beloved honors student to actually break this analysis open. When Robert Piest, 15, disappeared in December 1978, the general public concern was high and police were positive he wasn’t any runaway.

“We all do have these caricatures of the items deserving victims seem like,” Hamby told “Often those who arrived at attention, they’re attractive, they’re upper middle-class, they’ve other activities that signal to individuals that people should be worried about that one.”

Investigators learned Piest disappeared right after speaking to Gacy in regards to a potential job, which sparked a far more thorough analysis from the killer, despite his insistence he understood nothing concerning the teen’s location. It had been at that time they recognized that Gacy was really on parole for sexually mistreating a teenager boy in Iowa ten years earlier. Ultimately looking to locate Piest, whose body have been dumped within the Plusieurs Plaines River since there was apparently forget about room under Gacy’s home, led towards the discovery of his many victims, including those who have been formerly ignored as runaways.

The situation can serve as another indication concerning the risks of writing off vulnerable groups, but it is hardly the only person. Within the 1980s and ’90s, Joel Rifkin wiped out 17 women in New You are able to, most of them sex workers operating around the fringes of society whose disappearances were hardly observed. (For additional with that situation, watch the approaching special, Rifkin on Rifkin: Private Confessions of the Murderer, Saturday, April 10 at 7/6c on Archiweekend.)

There is Samuel Little, who confessed to killing 93 people, mostly women, between 1970 and 2005. Again, a lot of his victims resided around the margins and also the FBI noted in 2019 that Little “believed he wouldn’t be caught while he thought nobody was comprising his victims.”

And also the Lengthy Island Murderer, an as-yet unknown killer or killers believed responsible for approximately 16 murders in New You are able to within the 1990s and 2000s, mainly targeted sex workers whose fates continued to be unknown for a long time before the discovery of several physiques across the Lengthy Island shoreline. 

Still, Hamby sees a minimum of some progress in victims being identified by society, noting that researchers “are beginning to obtain better data on vulnerability of people that identify as non binary and transgender too.”

For instance, a 2020 UCLA study demonstrated that Gay and lesbian individuals are nearly four occasions much more likely than non-Gay and lesbian individuals to be victims of violent crime. Hamby stated victim-focused narratives might help persuade folks not to dismiss possible victims according to lifestyle, gender identity, sexuality, or socioeconomic status. 

“I think giving voices towards the victims and providing them venues and platforms to talk helps people their humanity,” Hamby stated.

Written by Stephanie Green

I am dreamer and book reader.

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