cover image John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster

John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster

Judge Sam L. Amirante and Danny Broderick. Skyhorse (Norton, dist.), $24.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-61608-248-2

How do you defend a madman accused of killing 30 young men and teenagers? That is the powerful theme of this book by a retired judge and criminal attorney whose first case was defending John Wayne Gacy, a popular community figure who began a deranged killing spree in Illinois in the 1970s. Amirante, who sat on the bench of the Cook County Circuit Court until his retirement in 2005, and Broderick, a lawyer, chronicle the case from the first call from Gacy asking for help to the police grillings and searches of the Gacy home and uncovering of hundreds of human bones in a crawl space in Gacy's home. What emerges is a deep probing into Gacy's mind as it unraveled into a "detached, disconnected" madness wrapped in a maze of sexual confusion and murderous intent. "His brain was profoundly broken," writes Amirante, displaying a remarkable ability to empathize with his client. Gacy's confession, as recounted here, is astonishing. Despite Amirante's hearty defense, Gacy got a death sentence (he was executed in 1994) and his account will illuminate the case for anyone fascinated by the inner workings of a serial killer. 50 b&w illus. (Aug.)