Clowns: where our fear comes from

Kathleen Alonso, News Editor

Sightings of clowns have erupted all throughout the United States. They have even made their way across seas with reports from Brazil and the U.K. Now everybody’s asking, who are they? What do they want? How much caution should we take?

While a majority of the reports have been harmless, some clowns have been sighted with weapons.

Today’s sightings parallel those of the 1980’s. Several children reported seeing clowns trying to lure them into white vans. The real scare came later in 1990 in Wellington, Florida. Marlene Warren opened her front door to a brown eyed clown bearing flowers and balloons. As she stood in the doorway confused, the clown then shot her in the face and drove off. To this day, her murder has remained unsolved.

Another notorious killer clown from the 1990’s that has transcended the modern clown fear into society is John Wayne Gacy. Gacy worked at kid parties as “Pogo the Clown”. In a time span of six years, Gacy murdered and raped an estimated 33 teenage boys. He buried most of his victims under his home. Once he ran out of room, he disposed of the bodies near a river. Gacy was convicted and executed in 1994.

The clown fear has even inspired chilling urban legends that have no single source. Rumor has it that a wealthy family hired a teenage girl to babysit and requested that she watch television in the far room to avoid waking the kids. As hours went by, she’d become creeped out by the vacant gaze of a clown statue standing in the corner. She called the parents asking if it would be okay if she switched rooms. The father became frantic and told her to grab the kids and call the police. The kids had talked of seeing a clown but the parents had brushed it off as nightmares- the parents did not own a statue clown.

The first sighting that started the recent epidemic was in Greenville, South Carolina. A young boy reportedly saw two brightly dressed clowns in the wooded area next to his low-income apartment complex. His mother made a complaint to the local police department. According to the incident report “the clowns were whispering and making strange noises” and apparently attempted to lure the boy into an abandoned home in the woods.

Since this initial report, there have been at least 100 sighting from all the way from California to the far east of Florida- there have even been sightings in our small town of Liberal. Thus far, no one has reported being injured. Police departments are warning people not to wear clown costumes with the intent of scaring others.

Even if you believe the clown stories to be fake, with Halloween around the corner it wouldn’t hurt to keep an extra eye open.