I remember Robbie Piest’s dad even, this was anamazing thing, at trial, he came
up to me one day—and you know the fear; he might stick a knife in your throat since you are the lawyer of the guy that he hates. But Mr. Piest came up to me and said, “Sam, I just want you to let you know that I have no malice or ill will toward you. Iunderstand that you have job to do, sir, and I had to express that and tell you that.” I thought that was the classiest and nicest thing. It was during a time of… It was in the middle of the trial.
I was never afraid of anything or anybody. The only thing that ever bothered me is that if somebody might have wanted to get John Gacy, I might get in the way of a bullet or something. But any personal threats toward me never bothered me.
The toughest thing about a case like that—any case that involves the victims of horrible crimes—is looking at those family members when you’re the lawyer defending someone accused of doing that and sometimes even knowing that they’ve done it. Seeing the looks on the faces of these people and feeling compassion for them is a very difficult thing to experience. That’s much more difficult than representing the person—facing the victims.
When was the last time you spoke with or saw John Wayne Gacy? Can you tell me a bit about that final encounter?
Oh boy. One of the last times I ever spoke to him, he was down in Menard. We used to communicate, and I went down to see him a few times. He was in Menard Penitentiary in Southern IL. He was executed at Statesville, but they brought him back up to Statesville.
Anyway, he was telling me about this woman he had met — a woman who’d become his pen pal and would come there to visit him. She wanted to marry him. I said, “Oh John, that’s good. Maybe you should marry her.” He said, “What? Are you kidding? Are you nuts? I’d never marry that fat hog!” or something like that. He said, “She’s got two kids in the joint down here. You think I’d want to ruin my reputation by marrying into a family like that?”
That was typical John Gacy. He just had no clue. As smart as he was — almost genius in some ways — in others, he didn’t have a clue. He didn’t want to ruin his reputation!