Over the last few weeks there have been reports of “creepy clowns” being spotted in various parts of the country. Including Wisconsin, Staten Island, and Florida. The creepy clown “prank” as some have called it involves someone dressing up as a clown and frightening members of the community.
The popularity of clowns have been in steady decline since Stephen King’s 1986 novel “It.” Telling the tale of a child-killing clown. We’ve heard tales of other creepy clowns in the past. Are these new sightings the reinvention of the original killer clown John Wayne Gacy?
Gacy is well known for the murder of 33 boys and young men during the 1970’s. Gacy originally was more well known for his charitable work in hospitals where he would dress up as a clown to entertain sick children. Which is where his moniker “The Killer Clown” came from. Gacy would lure or force his victims into his home where they would meet an untimely end. Investigation into his case identified that he would rape, torture and kill his victims. Gacy was sentenced to death and was executed on May 10th, 1994.
Though the clowns we see in media reports today as of yet have not been found to be deadly. Law enforcement are still advising everyone both offender and victim that they should avoid encounters at all cost. Investigations have not yet clarified whether these occurrences are part of a larger event or individual instances. Regardless, law enforcement is expecting an uptick in reports as Halloween nears.
The biggest concern from a policing perspective is that these pranks are going to go horribly wrong very soon. Someone is going to try and scare the wrong person, and get themselves seriously injured. The likeliness of this occurring is relatively high as there are quite a few people who are Coulrophobic (phobia of clowns). It is believed that our fear of clowns stems from not knowing who is behind all the make-up and the clowns’ ability to distort many social norms. Whether you think clowns are funny or creepy, at the end of the day, these individuals who believe their prank to be fun may pay a costly price for disturbing the peace.