In 1975 First Lady of the United States Rosalynn Carter was photographed with serial killer John Wayne Gacy Jr., who was later convicted of the murders of 33 teenage boys, who he buried in his basement, until it became too full, at which point he began throwing the bodies off a bridge. Gacy was known to his neighbors as a friendly, gregarious person, active in the community and volunteering widely. His photo with the First Lady came about because of his participation in Democratic Party politics
Gacy was rewarded for his community services by being appointed to serve upon the Norwood Park Township street lighting committee. He subsequently earned the title of precinct captain. In 1975, Gacy was appointed director of Chicago's annual Polish Constitution Day Parade — an annual event he was to supervise from 1975 until 1978. Through his work with the parade, Gacy met and was photographed with then First Lady Rosalynn Carter on May 6, 1978. Rosalynn Carter signed one photo: "To John Gacy. Best wishes. Rosalynn Carter". The event later became an embarrassment to the United States Secret Service, as in the pictures taken Gacy can be seen wearing an "S" pin, indicating a person who has received special clearance by the Secret Service.