A COP who busted John Wayne Gacy and confronted him about the bodies he hid said he will never forget the serial killer's wicked smile and what he told him.
Retired Des Plaines detective Rafael Tovar uncovered 29 victims during a gruesome search of Gacy's Cook County property in 1978.
Gacy – dubbed the "killer clown" because he worked as one prior to his crimes – was sentenced to death over murders of 33 young men and boys in Illinois during 1972 and 1978.
Most of his victims were buried in a small crawl space underneath his house of horrors, while others were thrown into the Des Plaines River.
He was known to lure victims to his home, dupe them into wearing handcuffs as part of a 'magic trick', then rape, torture and strangle them.
Mr Tovar, who helped arrested Gacy, said the Chicago-born serial killer would get a high out of tormenting his interrogators.
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"Gacy was a type of guy who, if he knew you knew something, he was totally honest with you on any questions you asked him. If you didn’t find out, he’d play games with you," he told The Sun Online.
At one point during the investigation, he struck up a chilling conversation with Gacy that still haunts him to this day.
"I drove him down from the county jail and at that time I said to him ‘John, how many people did you really kill?’ and he said to me ‘Well, I told my lawyer this and you guys already know about that but 45 sounds like a good number,'" the retired cop said.
"That’s when I said ‘where are they, John?’ and he just kind of looked at me with a little smirk on his face and said ‘You’re the detective. It’s up to you to find out.’"
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Among Gacy's sickening bag of tricks was performing as a clown at street parties, which he did to throw suspecting neighbours off his scent. He also helped with odd jobs and became a "respected" local Democrat.
"He did all the right things to keep all the people around him off balance," Mr Tovar, 78, explained.
"For example, he had a pick-up truck with a plough on it and in his neighbourhood, when it snowed, he would go up and down the street, ploughing everyone's driveways out.
"Every summer, he’d throw a theme party and treat everybody. He was always available for somebody if they ever needed something because he barely slept and so he was always free.
"So, when you have someone like that around you, even if you suspect something or someone says something, you’d probably go ‘ahhh no, Gacy’s a good guy’.
"He knew how to play people. He was smart. His mistake was that he picked a good kid at the end. People cared about him, people pushed the investigation."
Gacy officers he liked dressing as a clown because they "can get away with murder," according to Mr Tovar said.
"Gacy liked young people. What does a clown do? He brings in young people," he said.
Gacy's six-year reign of terror was marked by unimaginable cruelty and relentless abuse.
All his victims were strangled or choked – bar his first, who he stabbed – before their bodies were bundled into his home’s crawl space, buried on his property or dumped in the local Des Plaines River.
But the whole time, Gacy lived a double life, presenting himself as an upstanding member of the local community and doing charity work in character as clown 'Pogo' which stood for "Polish guy on the go".
In prison, he revelled in this persona that had grown to define him, and even made money off it from his cell by painting horrible images of clowns and selling them.
A keen Democrat, he served on a local organising committee, even meeting First Lady Rosalynn Carter through his community work on May 6, 1978.
But nobody had any idea that the sick man beneath the clown mask was a sadistic killer responsible for a spate of disappearances in the area.
Gacy deceived many of his victims by telling them he needed their help with “scientific research”, for which he would pay them up to $50 each.
After luring the boys to his house, through lies or at gunpoint, Gacy would then ply them with alcohol and trick them into putting on handcuffs, occasionally as part of his clown routine.
Then, once they were defenceless, he would torment his teenage victims, before raping them and finishing with what he called “the rope trick”: strangling the boys with a length of rope.
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The case still haunts Mr Tovar to this day and he meets with his old cop pals once a year for "a bit of therapy".
"We still have five human remains buried under a sign that says unknown. If we could identify those then I’d be totally closed on it," he told us.
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