When John Wayne Gacy wasn’t busy commiting gruesome crimes and burying young men in his crawl space he liked to flex his civic mindedness. In 1975 Gacy was appointed as the director of Chicago’s annual Polish Constitution Day Parade. He would hold that position through 1978. At the reception party for the parade, Gacy had the opportunity to meet former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. The moment was captured on film with the former FLOTUS even autographing the pic, “To John Gacy, best wishes, Rosalynn Carter.”
The photo was taken on May 6, 1978. It would be Gacy’s last year helming the parade, it was also his last year as a free man. As you know, Gacy would be arrested in a matter of months for the gruesome murders of more than thirty young men.
When the news broke of Gacy’s crimes and videos of bodies being carried from his crawl space were on the news every night for weeks, the picture of Gacy and the First Lady was published by the media, who called it into question.
Mrs. Carter’s press secretary, Mary Hoyt commented on the picture during the inquiry from the press. She confirmed the photo and stated it was one of many pictures taken that day with people involved in the celebration.”We went into a reception for Mrs. Carter after the program, at which time pictures were taken with the parade officials,” Mrs. Hoyt said. “Mr. Gacy was a parade director. There were 50 to 75 people there, Including Governor Thompson and Mayor Bilandic.” It was also revealed that the photo was taken by a White House photographer who travelled to events with the first lady.
In the photo there is an “S” on Gacy’s lapel which indicates that he had been given security clearance. When a secret Service spokesman was asked about the photo of Gacy and the First Lady he said he was “looking into the matter.”
Interestingly enough, Gacy wasn’t the only psychopathic mass murderer to be captured on film with former first lady Rosalynn Carter. She was also photographed back in 1976 with the one and only Jim Jones, during a campaign visit to San Francisco. But unlike Gacy, the relationship between Rosalynn and Jones wasn’t limited to formal photo-ops. The pair shared letters and even phone conversations, but that’s a different kettle of fish. Like they always say, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know.
Lion, Ed. Tapes of Jim Jones give chilling view of life in Peoples Temple. April 27, 1981. Ukiah Daily Journal. Ukiah, California
The good name of Rev. Jim Jones. (AP) November 21, 1978. The Press Democrat. Santa Rosa, California.
Accused Killer Pictured at Reception with Mrs. Carter. (UPI) January 23, 1979. Journal Gazette. Mattoon, Illinois.
Photograph Shows Mrs. Carter With Suspect in Mass Slayings. (UPI) January 22, 1979. The New York Times. New York, New York.