John Wayne Gacy was an infamous serial killer who murdered over 30 young men and boys in the 1970s. Though convicted of horrendous crimes, Gacy projected an image of wealth and success during his killing spree. He bragged about his prosperous construction business and management of multiple KFC restaurants. But was Gacy truly as rich as he claimed? A closer look reveals the murky reality behind his income and net worth.
PDM Contractors – His Construction Business
In 1971, Gacy started his own construction company, PDM Contractors. The initials stood for Painting, Decorating, and Maintenance, reflecting the company’s services.
Gacy ran PDM Contractors as a side business while working as a short order cook during the daytime. However, within two years, Gacy realized he had a good entrepreneurial opportunity in construction. He quit his cooking job to focus on PDM Contractors full-time.
By 1978, right before his arrest, Gacy’s construction business was raking in an estimated $200,000 per year, the equivalent of over $900,000 today. An impressive income for the time. PDM Contractors expanded into areas like interior design, installation, landscaping, and remodeling.
Gacy leveraged his outgoing personality and local connections to make PDM Contractors a success. To the community, he was a prominent small business owner who joined organizations like the Jaycees. But behind the scenes, Gacy used his business as a front to lure in vulnerable young employees and unsuspecting victims.
Owning and Managing KFC Franchises
In 1968, Gacy moved with his new wife to Waterloo, Iowa. His father-in-law had purchased three Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises there and hired Gacy to manage them.
In addition to a share of the restaurants’ profits, Gacy received a substantial annual salary of $15,000, equivalent to over $120,000 today. He and his wife also got to live rent-free in a house previously owned by her parents.
For an ambitious young man like Gacy, running KFC franchises presented a lucrative opportunity. The role enabled him to cultivate his “Colonel Sanders” persona as a local businessman and community leader in Waterloo.
This upstanding reputation masked his darker motives underneath. Gacy used the KFC restaurants to recruit more vulnerable employees, seduce teenage co-workers, and establish credibility as a successful manager.
The Glaring Costs That Ate Away at His Wealth
On paper, Gacy seemed to be raking in a small fortune by the late 1970s between his construction business and fast food franchises. However, major financial obligations presented a drain on his wealth.
By the time of his arrest, Gacy was divorced with two children. His ex-wife had full custody, so Gacy paid costly alimony and child support. He was also still paying the mortgage on his Norwood Park ranch house, where he committed his heinous murders.
As a social climber, Gacy loved to entertain guests at his home to keep up appearances. He spent lavishly on alcohol and parties to impress people, all part of his manipulation.
Gacy certainly earned substantial income for a time. But after accounting for his financial responsibilities, he exaggerated his true net worth. Though prosperous on the surface, Gacy allegedly died with only $200 in his prison commissary account according to some reports.
What Was Gacy’s Actual Net Worth?
Estimates of Gacy’s net worth when he was apprehended vary widely, ranging from $1 million to $5 million. He boasted that his legal expenses and lost income during his 1980 trial cost him upwards of $1 million.
However, investigators believe Gacy exaggerated his wealth like he did almost everything else. One detective called him “full of crap” for constantly inflating his status and riches.
The true picture suggests Gacy had a comfortable middle-class lifestyle at his peak, but his wealth was nowhere near as vast as his bragging indicated. any remaining assets were likely drained by legal costs and victim compensation after his incarceration.
In the end, Gacy’s infamous legacy as a serial killer overshadows the financial success he temporarily achieved. His greedy pursuit of money and status ultimately enabled his horrific crimes. Gacy’s story remains a cautionary reminder that wealth and evil often lurk beneath the surface side-by-side.