Former First Lady Gave Well Wishes To John Wayne Gacy

At first glance, it looks like a normal photograph. Former first lady of the United States Rosalynn Carter wearing a red jacket with a red and white scarf tied neatly around her neck. Next to her is a man in a burgundy blazer and a matching tie. However, the tone of the photo takes a turn and your skin may start to crawl that the man standing next to Carter is none other than notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

John Wayne Gacy is remembered as one of the worst serial killers in American history, and one of the things that have made him so terrifying was his ability to craft a facade of normalcy. He came off as a family man who was active in church and performed at charity functions as his alter ego, Pogo the Clown (via The Daily Mail). Alright, that last bit is a little creepy to some.

It is sometimes overlooked that Gacy was also active in politics, a shockingly public pursuit for a man with so many figurative skeletons in his closet and literal ones in his crawlspace. Gacy was active in the Chicago-area Democratic Party and it was through that he met then-first lady Rosalynn Carter.

How John Wayne Gacy met First Lady Rosalynn Carter

Why John Wayne Gacy chose to get into politics — and specifically why he became so active in the Democratic Party — isn't known. "It was never specifically said by Gacy, or generally known, why he became a Democrat," author and filmmaker John Borowski told Salon.

According to The New York Times, the photo of Carter and Gacy was taken May 6, 1978, and its authenticity was even confirmed by the Whtie House after it was first printed by The Chicago Sun‐Times. The photo was taken in Chicago and the first lady was in town for a Polish Constitution Day celebration. It was also confirmed that Carter had autographed the photo of herself and Gacy, writing, "To John Gacy, best wishes, Rosalynn Carter."

The date the photo was taken adds to its eerieness. Once he was finally apprehended, John Wayne Gacy was convicted of 33 murders. It's believed that these murders took place between 1972 and 1978, per Oxygen. This means that on the day that John Wayne Gacy posed with the first lady of the United States, he had already killed dozens of boys and young men.

Rosalynn Carter is in another photo with a nefarious character

As if a photo with the killer clown himself wasn't bad enough, several years earlier, Rosalynn Carter had unknowingly taken a photo with another person who would go on to attain infamy in his own, cult leader Jim Jones.

Jones was the leader of the Peoples Temple, a racially-integrated church — rare for the 1950s when the church was founded — that started in the mid-west before migrating west to San Francisco, per Britannica. Much like Gacy in Chicago, Jones became a common fixture in Bay Area local politics. Again, like Gacy, Jones supported and was active in the Democratic Party, and his ties to the party and local government are how he wound up meeting Rosalynn Carter.

According to San Diego State University, there were some rumblings about Jones before he met the former first lady, from prominent political activist Ralph Nader, over concerns he had about the Peoples Temple and its leader.

Rosalynn Carter was in northern California ahead of the 1976 election alongside her husband's vice presidential candidate Walter Mondale. There she met Jones — an increasingly powerful presence in the Bay Area — spoke from his pulpit and even had a private dinner with Jones. There's no way that she could've known what lay ahead for Jones and the Peoples Temple. That the whole church would uproot and move to Guyana, and that Jones' actions would lead to the death of United States Senator Leo Ryan and the mass suicide of hundreds of Jones' followers.