Lawyers contend Gacy had help in some killings
BY FRANK MAIN Sun-Times Media February 9, 2012 9:52PM
Updated: March 11, 2012 8:54AM
Did the “Killer Clown” act alone?
Two Chicago lawyers have re-examined the circumstances surrounding the disappearances of three victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy and concluded that he probably had one or more accomplices.
Defense attorneys Robert Stephenson and Steven Becker took a fresh look at victims Russell Nelson, of Minneapolis, and Robert Gilroy and John Mowery, both of Chicago.
The three young men disappeared in 1977 and were among 29 victims found in 1978 on Gacy’s property in unincorporated Norwood Park Township. Four other victims were found in the Des Plaines River. Gacy, a building contractor who performed as an amateur clown, was executed in 1994.
The attorneys said they reviewed Gacy’s travel and work records, which indicated he was out of town when Nelson and Gilroy disappeared. The work records also showed Gacy didn’t have much time to abduct, torture and kill Mowery, the lawyers said.
Stephenson said that after Gacy was arrested in 1978, he told officers that others were involved directly in some of the killings but only referred to them as “my associates.”
Stephenson said some relatives of victims have told him “they would like the investigation re-opened or at least people questioned and then see what the evidence actually is.” He said he’s prepared to provide Cook County sheriff’s police and other authorities with the names of potential Gacy accomplices. The sheriff’s department originally investigated the murders.
The evidence of possible accomplices is particularly compelling in the Gilroy and Nelson cases, according to the lawyers. They pinpointed the time that Gilroy, 18, vanished to between a 5 p.m. telephone call to a girlfriend and a 6 p.m. horse-riding appointment he missed on Sept. 15, 1977. They also found a copy of a plane ticket, showing that Gacy flew to Pittsburgh on Sept. 12, 1977, and didn’t return to Chicago until the night of Sept. 16.
The attorneys said nothing in Gilroy’s background indicates that he would have run away, based on interviews with his friends. They believe someone abducted him while Gacy was out of town.
The attorneys also spoke to relatives of Nelson, a University of Minnesota architecture student who traveled from Minneapolis to Chicago with a friend on Oct. 18, 1977, to look at skyscrapers. The friend told police that Nelson vanished the next night while they stood outside a bar in Chicago, but Nelson’s mother said the friend later gave her a different account.
Stephenson said he doesn’t believe Gacy could’ve snatched the 21-year-old Nelson from the street without the friend seeing anything.
Nelson’s mother told Stephenson the friend, a 29-year-old carpenter when Nelson disappeared, also lived in Minneapolis, but some have speculated he may have met Gacy when the contractor was working in Minnesota. And she provided another chilling detail: the friend offered Nelson’s two brothers a job with Gacy.
Stephenson asked that the friend’s name not be published but said he would provide it to authorities, adding that “I don’t know that he was involved, but I know that he wasn’t telling the truth here.”
Stephenson acknowledged the evidence in Mowery’s case is the weakest in showing an accomplice may have worked with Gacy. Mowery, 19, disappeared Sept. 25, 1977, after having dinner at his mother’s house. He was scheduled to work the next morning, Stephenson said.
Contractor records show Gacy was at a job in Michigan at 6 a.m. Sept. 26, 1977, and was in Michigan until Sept. 30, Stephenson said. He doubts Gacy would have the time to abduct, torture and kill Mowery in the narrow time frame between Mowery’s disappearance and Gacy heading to work in Michigan.