John Wayne Gacy and Bobby Thompson each performed violent acts, most famously depicted by Gacy's 33 murders from 1972 to 1978 and Thompson's and another 10-year-old's murder of a toddler in 1993. When there are crimes of this fantastic a nature, there are bound to be parallels drawn between them. While there are some similar theories that can relate to Gacy and Thompson, there are enough dissimilarities between the two that only different theories can try to explain.
By all appearances, Gacy was a respected man in his community. He ran a successful contacting company, participated in many civic activities, and entertained children as a clown (?, p. 21). However, an investigation eventually revealed that he had been methodically killing young men and boys, burying the bodies under and around his house and dumping them in a nearby river. There are many theories that attempt to explain what made Gacy become a serial killer.
One theory that can be applied to Gacy is one of genetics, specifically one regarding the differences in his autonomic nervous system. Studies had shown that criminals had "chronically low levels of autonomic arousal and weaker reactions to stimulation," which could cause them to have a need for "extra stimulation" that can only be fed by "aggressive thrill seeking" (Wrightsman, p. 121).
Psychological factors are some of the prime theories in this instance. One theory in this vein that fits Gacy is the "criminal thinking pattern" (Wrightsman, p. 122). This theory suggests that "criminals engage in a fundamentally different way of thinking than noncriminals" (Wrightsman, p. 122), meaning that while criminals may seem to follow a "logical and consistent" path in their thinking, their judgment is "erroneous and irresponsible" (Wrightsman, p. 122). This theory explains Gacy's thinking as laid out in the reading. After his arrest,