What Really Happened To John Wayne Gacy's Brain After His Death

As morbid as it may be, it is something of human nature to have a sort of fascination with serial killers. After all, the acts they commit are so heinous that they are incomprehensible to the average person. So it makes sense that so many of us wish we could peer inside the brain of a serial killer to see if there is some kind of anomaly or injury that ordinary people do not possess, which drives them to commit the terrible crimes they commit. As it turns out, while wanting to get inside the mind of a serial killer may just be a dark curiosity for some, for Dr. Helen Morrison, it is an actual reality. The Chicago-based psychiatrist is currently in possession of the preserved brain of one of the most notorious serial killers of the 20th century, John Wayne Gacy.

Like many of us, Dr. Morrison, who spent about 50 hours with Gacy at Cermak Hospital before his trial, wanted to see if there was perhaps a physical reason that could help explain what drove Gacy to brutally murder 33 boys and young men in cold blood, according to the Chicago Tribune. So following the trial, in which she testified for the defense that he was mentally ill and legally insane, and Gacy's subsequent execution, Morrison obtained permission from Gacy's living relatives to remove his brain for research.

Gacy's brain remains preserved in the basement of Dr. Morrison's Chicago home

During John Wayne Gacy's autopsy, his brain was removed and given to Dr. Morrison, and it has remained in her home ever since. Although she is in possession of both the brain and preserved slices of all of Gacy's internal organs, Dr. Morrison remains tight-lipped about the exact location, except to say that it is in "the safest place it can be" in her basement. "We have it in our home in an area in the basement that is secure and not accessible," she explained to the Chicago Tribune. Although morbid curiosity has driven people, including reporters, to ask to see the brain over the years, Morrison has largely refused.

However, the brain has been studied by researchers, who asked not to be identified. While one might hope that access to Gacy's brain would prove to be illuminating, the studies conducted on the organ showed no signs of abnormalities that could possibly help explain Gacy's abhorrent behavior. "They basically told us that there's actually nothing abnormal, so no tumor, no growth, no sign of any injury. The ventricles are fine; no sign of hydrocephalus," Morrison said.

Celebrities have held John Wayne Gacy's brain

Researchers and doctors aren't the only people fascinated with the brain of John Wayne Gacy. Some celebrities have even had the opportunity to get up close and personal with it. "Ghost Adventures" star Zak Bagans traveled to Chicago in 2019 to see it. He reportedly said that he would never forget what it felt like to hold it, adding that it was "pure evil," according to TMZ. But he was apparently not satisfied with simply holding the brain — he wanted to own some of it. He reportedly offered Morrison some money for it, but she turned him down. Bagans might not have been able to buy a slice of Gacy's brain, but he did manage to purchase some of Gacy's belongings, including some of Gaycy's art in the form of a self-portrait of Gacy dressed as a clown (via Newsweek).

"Keeping Up With the Kardashians" star Khloe Kardashian also got to hold a slice of the brain. In 2010, the Daily Mail reported that Kardashian was working on an episode of the reality show "Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami" when they traveled to Chicago to interview Morrison. When Kardashian commented that the brain was so small, Morrison explained that they shrink when placed in preservatives. Photos on the site show Kardashian holding what appeared to be two slices of the brain in a plastic bag. Kardashian said the brain looked like a "hamburger patty," per the Daily Mail.