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Although the most accepted narrative about the notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy is that he acted alone, there have been theories floated that he had at least some assistance in his infamous killing spree. But could he have been in cahoots with a national sex trafficking ring?
The new six-part docuseries from Peacock, “John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise,” brings fresh insight into Gacy's crimes while pondering whether or not the "killer clown," who was convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys in the 1970s, had accomplices to his crimes.
Episode 5 of the series introduces viewers to John David Norman, who is one of four individuals that Gacy named as his accomplices in jailhouse interviews following his 1980 conviction and death sentence. However, seeing as the serial killer was a known liar and manipulator, any of his claims should be met with healthy skepticism.
Gacy said that both David Cram and Michael Rossi, who were two young employees of his contracting and construction business, PDM Contractors, were involved in his horrific murders. Both teens later testified that they helped to dig trenches under Gacy's home — but they denied assisting in the murders themselves. Gacy’s own lawyer, Sam Amirante, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer interview in 2012 that he doesn’t think the two teens assisted in any of the killings.
Gacy also named another former PDM employee, Phil Paske, who was deeply linked to Norman, a convicted sex offender.
Norman was the head of the notorious sex trafficking rings that supplied young boys to men across the nation. He was first arrested in Texas in 1973 after police found 30,000 index cards at his home with names of men who allegedly paid for sex with boys, as WGN Chicago reported in 2016.
Dallas Police Detective Arsie Nelson referred to Norman as “the pedophile of pedophiles,” a man who advertised “kids for rent” before sending the adolescents around the country to be prostituted, as was reported in an Investigation Discovery podcast, "The Clown and the Candyman." Norman would put ads out for his operation, called the Odyssey Foundation, in periodicals as he cruised areas known for young runaways.
The accomplices of Texas-based serial killer Dean "Candy Man" Corll — who killed 28 young men and boys until one of his associates shot him dead in 1973 — say that Corll worked for a Dallas-based organization that bought and sold, and then murdered, many of these boys. While it's speculated, in the podcast and elsewhere, that Corll and Norman were connected, it has never been confirmed.
Even though Norman was arrested in 1973, he was never convicted for sex-trafficking; he ended up moving to Homewood, Illinois, where he was eventually caught luring young boys into an apartment where he was sexually assaulting them. While being held in Cook County Jail after being charged with molesting 10 boys, he managed to send out newsletters about his sex trafficking ring, entitled the Delta Project, as was reported by the Chicago Tribune in 1977.
In 1976, Norman was sentenced to four years in state prison on sodomy charges. One year later, the Tribune broke the story about Norman’s sex trafficking ring nationally. Their story named Paske as Norman’s “closest associate” and described him as a convicted murderer who carried on the leadership of Norman’s sex-trafficking ring after he was incarcerated. A note that was written by Gacy, later obtained by WGN Chicago, called Paske dangerous and alleged that he would “pimp girls, boys, for sex or movies.”
“Gacy, Norman and Paske are all in Chicago around that time,” Tracy Ullman, one of the executive producers behind the Peacock docuseries, told Oxygen.com. “I find it hard for all these things to just be a coincidence.”
He began mentioning Norman as early as 1990, during an interview with amateur researcher Randy White, who he'd enlisted to gather information on his victims and associates. In a 1992 prison interview, footage of which is included in the Peacock series, Gacy claimed that Norman’s sex-trafficking ring was making snuff films with young boys. Gacy even told investigators that they should look through Norman’s videos to see if they could recognize any of the victims he'd killed over the years.
Of course, Gacy also told the interviewer that he wasn't even sure if he'd ever met Norman in person; he actually asked to see a recent picture of him before answering if he had. But it was at least plausible that that they might have crossed paths in some form or another.
“From years of research, we found that pedophiles - like Norman and Gacy - often had lines of communication that tied them together, whether through coded ads in Boy's Life magazine or actual contact to trade pornography or traffic in humans,” Ullman told Oxygen.com.
In a 1992 letter to White, provided to Oxygen.com by Ullman, Gacy claimed that Norman had been arrested 19 times, 16 of those arrests being sexual in nature. He told White Norman was serving time in Colorado for sexual battery.
In 2009, Norman was released on parole and remained a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, with a judge noting he'd spent most of his days inside prison and a state hospital, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. But while living on supervised release in Southern California that year, he landed in court again. At 81, he'd allegedly passed a note to a 19-year-old bagger at a grocery store and placed an ad in a newspaper seeking a roommate.
That ad stated, “Unique old guy ... needs a younger guy as a roommate and companion ... is more interested in company than sex ... pay little or nothing for room and board,” according to the Union-Tribune.
Norman was sent back to a state hospital as a result. WGN reported in 2016 that he had since died.
For more on the Gacy case, watch "John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise," available now on Peacock.
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