Sam Amirante still vividly remembers the moment his secretary delivered the message which would lead to the most shocking case of his career.
“Sam, there’s a guy who called looking for you. He says his name is John Gacy.”
Amirante was just hanging up his shingle after a stint in the public defender’s office, and Gacy was his first paying client in private practice.
The killer was being tailed by Des Plaines police because he was the last person seen with a missing teenager named Robert Piest. He insisted he had no idea why he was being followed.
But a few nights later, Gacy confided to Amirante, “This boy’s dead. He’s in the Des Plaines River.”
“I’ve been the judge, jury, and executioner, of many, many people,” he reportedly said.
As Amirante retells the story in his new book, “John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster,” the killer proceeded to describe each of the murders in detail.
“He went on, murder by murder, piece by piece, burial by burial,” Amirante said. “He wanted to prove that what he was saying was true. He wanted to take us to his house and show us the burial ground.”
As shocking as that news was, Amirante was Gacy’s lawyer, and bound by attorney-client privilege not to reveal anything he had told him.
“When your client comes in to talk to you, it is sacrosanct that you do not disclose any information, good, bad, or indifferent.”
Amirante and Gacy’s civil lawyer did recommend that the police maintain their surveillance. But he said at the time, he did not even tell his wife what was consuming so much of his time.
“I said remember the Richard Speck case? It makes it look like a misdemeanor!”
Gacy actually recalled killing 34 individuals. He was convicted of 33.
“He said he threw five in the Des Plaines river because he had run out of room in his house. He was actually planning to build a second story on his house to keep the bodies in his house.”
Indeed, Amirante said Gacy told him he once killed three people at once.
“All bigger than him, but he conned all three of them into putting the cuffs on. He conned all three of them, after they got the cuffs on, he put the rope around their neck. And put them all in the same grave.”
After his arrest, as trial approached, long after the last victim had been removed from the crawl space beneath his home, Gacy’s memory began to change. Taped interviews with Gacy made by Amirante and his staff in jail, show the killer began to claim he remembered nothing about the murders.