How John Wayne Gacy Inspired At Least One Murder

Copycat killers present an interesting phenomenon and a relatively new one. It's believed that the first known case of mimicking another murderer's M.O. was in the early 1900s when slayings similar to London's 19th-century Jack the Ripper murders were performed (per History Collection). On the surface, this makes a lot of sense. Mass media was coming into its own at that time, and the lurid details of some of London's most notorious murders were still captivating readers.

Years later, mass media shrank the world even further. Radio, TV, and eventually the internet used their respective reaches to give people quick and easy access to any type of information available. These media would also keep certain items elevated in our collective consciousness, as one news story would be presented ad nauseum. The latter half of the 20th century saw countless high-profile murder cases unfold in living rooms across the world. The Manson Family, the Menendez brothers, O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and more were seemingly in daily papers and on the TV news cycle for long periods. 

The John Wayne Gacy killings made a media splash in their own right. The sheer brutality of the murders, as well as his staggering death count, made fodder for the papers, news magazines, and tabloids. Gacy (above) has been the subject of multiple documentaries, referenced in dozens of films, and has caught the attention of readers in more true crime books than you can count. Gacy's crimes also inspired at least one copycat killer in Alabama.

A mother disappears from her rural Alabama home in the summer of 2017

Susan Mayo disappeared from Wilmer, Alabama in June 2017, but it was more than a week before anyone reported her missing (via As the investigation gathered leads, they began to suspect that one of her children, Nathaniel Sebastian, had a hand in it. With enough evidence to obtain a search warrant, police arrived at Mayo's home in September 2017 and focused their search on the front porch of the house. Before any exploring could be started, Sebastian abruptly offered a confession to the officers. "Okay, my mama's under the front porch. Y'all got me." After five hours of digging under the porch, investigators unearthed a large barrel. Inside it was a decaying human body, later identified as Mayo. 

Sebastian was placed under arrest for murder. WKRG 5 News reports that it was later revealed that Sebastian had a heated argument with his mother and he shot her. After the killing, Sebastian laid down to take a nap. Upon waking, the unhinged man approached his mother's body and punched it in the face several times.

The prosecutor also charged Mayo's mother with hindering the prosecution. They alleged that she took the murder weapon and gave it to Sebastian's brother for disposal. Sebastian's brother was thought to not know about the crime. When questioning Sebastian about his mother's death, the man offered up a bizarre influence for his crime.

Sebastian was sentenced to 25 years in prison

Police discovered that Sebastian (above) had quite a temper after interviewing people close to him. They also discovered that Sebastian had quite the infatuation with 1970s Chicago serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Gacy, convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of 33 young men and boys, was the subject of many of Sebastian's social media posts. One police officer told the media outlet that Sebastian had maintained for a long time that he was a "fan" of Gacy's. "This isn't surprising this is what happened here," said Captain Paul Burch of the Mobile County Sheriff's Office (via WKRG News 5). The news outlet also reported that Sebastian went so far as to mention his infatuation with Gacy to one of the detectives on the case.

In February 2020, Sebastian had his day in court. Rather than face trial, the man opted to plead guilty to murder. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison (per WKRG 5 News).