Haunted house’s ‘Gacy room’ insensitive, say critics

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VILLA PARK — Two former prosecutors who helped convict John Wayne Gacy say that horror filmmaker Rob Zombie’s decision to include in his suburban Chicago haunted house a room dedicated to the serial killer could be hurtful to the many loved ones of Gacy’s victims who still live in the area.

“I don’t argue with Rob Zombie’s right to do what he’s doing but it’s a shame that what he’s doing is causing the victims’ families pain,” Robert Egan, who now teaches law in the area, told The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald.

“I find it to be in terrible taste,” said Terry Sullivan, a former prosecutor who helped win a conviction of Gacy that led to his execution in 1994.

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The newspaper reports that Zombie has in interviews described the Gacy room as “funny.” And the haunted house’s producer, Steve Kopelman said the true crime rooms dedicated to the likes of Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson was meant to be shocking to visitors.

Egan understands that the fascination people have with Gacy, 40 years after he lured at least 33 young men to his Chicago area home, killed them and stashed many of their bodies under the crawl space of his house. And he suspects younger people who don’t remember the very real horror that gripped the area and the country might see Gacy as sort of an “urban legend.”

But Egan said the haunted house and the room in which an actor dressed as Gacy in his infamous clown costume with two dolls dressed as Boy Scouts sit on the couch is just 10 miles from where the family of the last identified victim lived at the time and still lives. “It’s not like this is in the middle of Nebraska; it is close to where most of the victims and where many of their families still live.”

Not only that, but Egan said that for many people the slayings are not just history, but something they live, including those who continue to give DNA samples in an effort to determine if any of the still unidentified victims of Gacy are their loved ones.

“So all these people are sitting on the edge of their seats anyway,” he said.

Zombie defended the choice as “funny,” in a Chicago Tribune article.

The Gacy room is funny. Last year what it was was these little dead kids lying around and John Wayne Gacy is sitting in the chair folding balloon animals for you.

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