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What a journey it has been. My first book, Lost Boys of Hannibal: Inside America’s Largest Cave Search, chronicled one of the nation’s most vexing mysteries. In May of 1967, three Hannibal, Missouri boys, two of whom were childhood friends of mine, went missing after being seen near caves exposed during highway construction. Missouri is the Cave State, with nearly 5,000 identified caves, and Hannibal’s underside is criss-crossed with many dark, narrow passages. Despite a month-long search by the nation’s top cavers, the three boys were never found.
We fast forward to 2018.
I wrote a follow-on book, Souls Speak: Missing Children Reveal their Serial Killer from Beyond, after three evidential psychics identified the boys as the abductees and victims of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. My year-long investigation revealed that all three psychics independently identified the precise location in Ralls County Missouri where they say the bodies of the three boys are buried. Gacy went on to be put to death in the 1990s for the murders of 33 young men and boys in the Chicago area between in 1972 and 1978. Souls Speak laid out a credible theory that placed Gacy in Hannibal in May 1967. He lived in Waterloo, Iowa and drove through Hannibal to visit his mother and sister in Little Rock Arkansas on Mother’s Day.
Now, new information in this remarkable paranormal, true crime story.
We discovered more evidence about Gacy’s travels to Hannibal, and his possible role in the boys’ murders, during a conversation with Shawn Jackson, a cousin to Gacy’s nephew Ray Kasper. In February 2021, while in Hannibal for a family medical matter, New Mexico resident Steve Sederwall, a retired law officer and a childhood friend of Craig Dowell’s, tracked down Jackson who lived in Hannibal for several years in the 1980s and 1990s, and now resides in a small-town west of St. Louis.
Sederwall told me that in a phone conversation with Jackson, he broached the topic of John Wayne Gacy and his possible travels through Hannibal in 1967. Jackson readily acknowledged Gacy regularly drove through Hannibal in the 1960s and 1970s, en route to visit his mother and sister in Little Rock, Arkansas. “He always stayed at the Holiday Inn,” Jackson told Sederwall. This is a big break in our ongoing investigation as it proves Gacy was regularly travelling to Hannibal. The Holiday Inn where Gacy overnighted was located on the western edge of town, just east of Highway 61, the route Gacy would have driven from his home in Waterloo, Iowa, four hours away by car.
When the topic of Hannibal’s three lost boys was mentioned by Sederwall, Jackson openly acknowledged that he, too, had wondered whether his depraved distant relative might have been involved in their abductions and deaths. Jackson spoke to Gacy occasionally at Menard Prison and once even raised the subject. “I asked him if he knew anything about those three boys in Hannibal who went missing. He was evasive about the matter and quickly changed the subject,” Jackson related. It seems clear Gacy was uneasy with the topic and didn’t want to discuss the matter with one of the few people with whom he still maintained a semblance of a normal relationship.
As time progresses, we’re discovering more about Gacy’s travels and his increasingly likely role in the murders of three children taken and dispatched in the bloom of their lives. Shawn Jackson’s admissions are important additional pieces to the puzzle.
For more information, visit John Wingate’s author blog CardiffHill.com, and visit him on Facebook (AuthorJohnWingate) and Twitter (@CardiffHill).
Both of John Wingate’s books were published by Calumet Editions, and are available on Amazon.com.
Want to do a good deed? Please ask your local library to carry copies of my books, Lost Boys of Hannibal and Souls Speak. When libraries carry these books, people who cannot afford copies can still get a chance to read them. So anything you can do to help get these books in YOUR library is much appreciated!
The Travel Channel show about the lost boys of Hannibal will air again January 11 at 1 p.m. central time. We shot the show last summer.
The show includes a discussion with me about the findings in my two books, Lost Boys of Hannibal and my latest book, Souls Speak.
Here’s the audio from my November 13 interview with Jim Dewey of WTAD radio in Quincy Illinois. Go 9:30 in to hear the twenty minute interview.
A former TV news colleague has written an inciteful review about my new book – Souls Speak – the most astonishing true story you will ever read.
Here’s former WRAU-TV News Director Gary Reagen’s review:
“I was a journalist working in TV news in the years when that monster, John Wayne Gacy, the so-called “Killer Clown”, was so often headline news. Many people in the justice system and elsewhere reportedly believed that Gacy was never held to account for all his crimes; there were so many unanswered questions.
When I read John Wingate’s first book, “Lost Boys of Hannibal”, I was fascinated by the heroic efforts of so many would-be rescuers but also troubled by the unanswered questions “Lost Boys” raised – including the possibility that they were victims of a criminal, not a cave in.
Wingate’s follow-up book, “Souls Speak,” is a chiller. It is troubling squared. Count me a skeptic when it comes to psychics and mediums. Count me a skeptic, too, of anyone who claims we know the full truth about Gacy’s full list of horrors. But after reading this book … well, best have an open mind about whether this is a long-cold case or whether it offers new and accessible evidence. Highly recommended.”
We’ll soon be announcing the date and time for a September book signing event at Quincy Books, 3800 Broadway, Quincy, Illinois.
Here’s the interview I did about my new book Souls Speak with the Rivertown Review podcast. Thanks to hosts Harold Smith and Megan Rapp!