Since her brother's execution, Karen says she has kept this part of her past a secret. "The name Gacy has been buried," she says. "I've never given my maiden name out ... and I feel deceitful about it, and I don't mean to be, but it's a time in my life that for once I have peace. After 31 years of living in a closet not being able to talk about John or anybody—there have been a couple of times I didn't even tell anybody I had a brother because I didn't want that part of my life known. I wanted my children to have a normal life, my grandchildren to have a normal life, and you can't have that."
Karen's daughter Sheri got married about seven months ago to her husband, Jeff, who says he was let in on the family secret over time. "She was afraid I was going to bolt," he says. "I did a little bit more research and, to me, that shows what kind of strength and character this family has," he says.
Karen says she has no contact with her brother's children. "I tried sending gifts to the children. Everything was returned," she says. "I often wonder about them, but if [his first wife] wants a private life. I think she's owed that. I think the children are owed that."