Gacy's younger sister Karen says she and John were best friends growing up. She says Gacy's interests in things like gardening, cooking and baking upset their father, who she says sometimes had a temper. "My father, on many occasions, would call John a sissy. And he wasn't a happy drunk—sometimes he would turn into a mean drunk, so we had to always be real careful," she says. "John felt like he never lived up to Dad's expectations, and this went all the way into his adulthood, until he married and had a son and daughter."
When Gacy was arrested the first time, Karen says he insisted he was innocent, and she believed him. "I stop and think sometimes that maybe if he hadn't been so believable, maybe the rest of his life wouldn't have turned out like it did."