Gary Michael Heidnik: Biography and Murders

Gary Michael Heidnik (November 22, 1943 - July 6, 1999) was the American murderer who abducted, tortured and raped several women in Philadelphia, two of whom died in their hands. His victims were prostitutes of African-American origin and was known as"The Sower of Babies,"since his goal was to create what he called"a baby farm."

Heidnik has been classified by many as a serial killer. However, although he was a psychopath, his goal was not to murder, but to keep alive his victims to abuse them physically and sexually. He was also charged with cannibalism for allegedly feeding his victims with the remains of one of the women he murdered. However, although one of its victims was dismembered, this charge could not be proven.


His early years

Gary Heidnik was born on November 21, 1943 in Eastlake, Ohio. His parents, Michael and Ellen Heidnik, divorced when the child was barely three years old.

In court the father accused the mother of being alcoholic and violent. Gary and his younger brother Terry went to live with their mother, who soon remarried. But when the boy was old enough to attend school, both brothers moved with their father, who had also married a second time.

Heidnik did not have too normal a childhood. Due to the separation of their parents, their family environment was quite negative. His father was a very severe man who was emotionally and physically abusing him constantly.

In addition, according to years later, his father used to humiliate him frequently because he suffered from urinary incontinence, even forced him to hang the wet sheets on the window of his room for the neighbors to see. In fact, it is said that he once hung it by the window, keeping it suspended by the ankles to about six meters of height.

Another trauma that would add to his tragic childhood was his life in school. And is that when still very small, fell from a tree and this caused a deformity in the head. The classmates used to make fun of him and even got to call him"football head"or"El cabezón".

For all this and perhaps for his troubles at home, he was not an overly friendly child at school. He did not interact with his peers and refused to make eye contact. In spite of this, and contrary to what one would think, Heidnik had a good academic performance. In fact, his IQ was 130.

His life in the army

Heidnik began to develop a liking for the military world and therefore at the age of 14 he asked his father to enter a military school. He enrolled in the now-defunct Staunton Military Academy in Virginia. She studied there for two years but left her just before graduation. She spent another period in public high school until she finally dropped out.

In late 1960, at the age of 18, he joined the United States Army, and served for 13 months. During his basic training he was qualified by one of the sergeants as an excellent student. After completing his training, he applied for several positions as a specialist, including military police, but was rejected.

He was then sent to San Antonio, Texas, to be trained as a physician. In this training he also did well, so much so that in 1962 he was transferred to a military hospital in Federal Germany. After a couple of weeks there, he got his certification.

Shortly thereafter, he began to exhibit certain signs of mental disorder. In August 1962, Heidnik reported being ill. He complained of severe headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and nausea. A hospital neurologist diagnosed him with gastroenteritis. But he noticed that it also showed unusual psychological features.

At that time he prescribed Stelazine, a fairly strong tranquilizer that was prescribed to people suffering from hallucinations. In October of that same year he was transferred to a military hospital in Philadelphia, where he was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder. Thus he was licensed with honors and granted a pension for mental incapacity.

However, according to prosecutor Charlie Gallagher, Heidnik was not happy with his assignment to work as a doctor in Germany. For that reason he pretended to have a mental illness to obtain a medical discharge and a pension of 100% by incapacity. On the other hand, one of his friends assured that the initial mental breakdown was legitimate. However, that probably gave him the idea of ​​still pretending to get money as a disabled person.

In 1964, Heidnik decided to take nursing classes at the University of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania. A year later he completed his studies and took an internship at the General Hospital of Philadelphia. In 1967 he bought a three-story house and began frequenting the Elwyn Institute, a home for people with mental disabilities.

Despite continuing with his studies and having obtained a job, the murderer spent several years entering and leaving psychiatric hospitals, and attempted suicide in about 13 opportunities.

Your criminal activity

In 1971, Heidnik created his own church on North Marshall Street, Philadelphia, which he called"United Church of Ministers of God." He became the bishop himself and instituted a series of rules.

In 1975 he opened an account with the investment company Merrill Lynch on behalf of his church. The initial deposit was $ 1,500, but after a while he accumulated more than half a million dollars tax-free. The killer was the one who completely handled the money making investments in the bag.

Heidnik had a particular fixation with women of color, and especially those who had some kind of mental retardation. Therefore, in 1976 he sold his house and bought another to move with his girlfriend Anjeanette Davidson, who was mentally disabled. Two years later, in 1978, he was taken from a psychiatric hospital to his girlfriend's sister, a young woman with mental problems called Alberta.

The criminal took her home, locked her up, raped her and sodomized her. Later, when the woman was found chained in the basement of his house, Heidnik was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, as well as kidnapping and rape. The criminal was sentenced to prison and released in April 1983.

After leaving jail, Heidnik bought a third house and began to publicize his church again. In 1985 he married Betty Disco, a Filipino woman whom he met through a marriage agency. However, that union lasted a short time, since soon the wife discovered that her husband was unfaithful to her with three other women.

Additionally it was known that the criminal not only beat his wife and deprived her of food, but also forced her to observe him while having sex with his lovers. Disco left Heidnik and later, when he filed a claim for child support, the murderer learned that they had had a child.

With the abandonment of his wife in 1986 the criminal had the perfect excuse to start his wave of kidnappings and rapes. Heidnik was eager to have a harem of women who were his sex slaves.

Thus, on November 25 of that year he decided to kidnap Josefina Rivera, an African-American prostitute. He took her home and after having sex with her, hit her and chained her in the basement of the house. The criminal dug a well in the basement floor and placed Rivera inside and then covered the pit with a heavy board.

Just a few days later, on December 3, 1986, Heidnik kidnapped Sandra Lindsay, a young woman with mental retardation who in the past had gotten pregnant with the killer, but decided to abort the child. On December 23 he took another girl, Lisa Thomas, 19. One week later, on January 2, 1987, Heidnik kidnapped Deborah Dudley.

During her time in captivity, she tried to defend herself, but was beaten and locked in the hole more times than the others. After the arrival of Dudley, Heidnik became much more humiliating to the four women. Not only did they force them to have sex with each other, but also to eat dog food.

On January 18, the murderer kidnapped Jacquelyn Askins. In early February the murderer became infuriated with Lindsay and punished her by tying her wrists to a roof beam. He left her hung for a week and at that time forced her to eat pieces of bread. Already with fever and very weak, the girl finished suffocated.

According to the victims, the murderer later took the body, dismembered it, put his head in a pot and cut his flesh. Later he fed them and his dog with the human remains of the young woman. Over time Josefina Rivera realized that the only way to escape from that horrible destiny was to follow the game to the criminal. Little by little he tried to gain his trust, making him believe that he was on his side. Thus became his favorite.

The next one to die was Deborah Dudley, because of his rebellious nature he was not intimidated by Heidnik. The killer created another form of punishment. He forced the girls into the hole in the ground and used Josefina to fill it with water, forcing them to touch the other victims with a wire through which current flowed. This was precisely the cause of the death of Dudley, who was quickly replaced by the abducted Agnes Adams, on 24 March.

Paradoxically, Josefina who astutely was gaining the confidence of Heidnik, was its ruin.

After the kidnapping of the last victim, Rivera persuaded the criminal to give him permission to visit his family. Incredibly, he agreed. In this way at the slightest opportunity the woman can go out, she went with an ex-boyfriend, who accompanied her to the police, thus obtaining the arrest of psychopath and murderer Gary Michael Heidnik.

His arrest and conviction

After Josefina's denunciation, on March 25, 1987, police raided Heidnik's house. There, in the basement, they found three women in a serious condition: chained, naked, beaten and malnourished. His trial began in June 1988. In order to defend himself, the murderer made a completely improbable plea.

He said the women he had kidnapped were already in the basement when he moved into the house. Then the defense tried to make him look like a demented person. However, the argument was refuted by the fact that he had been smart enough to make thousands of dollars in the stock market.

On July 1, Heidnik was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder, five counts of abduction, six counts of rape and four counts of aggravated assault. That is why he was sentenced to death. On December 31, while waiting for the date of his execution, he tried to commit suicide with an overdose of chlorpromazine, but only fell into a momentary coma.

His execution was scheduled for April 15, 1997, however, at the last minute an appeal was filed that led to a hearing to determine his mental competence. On June 25, 1999, the State Supreme Court upheld his death sentence and was executed by lethal injection on July 6.

Psychological Profile of Gary Heidnik

Although Gary Heidnik was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder, it was later suspected that the killer had only faked his first problems to be compensated and to make money without having to work. The truth is that after their arrest, psychologists and psychiatrists failed to agree on the criminal's illness, nor did they find a connection between their manias and their twisted minds.

According to specialists, nervous tics, depression and antisocial habits were not signs of dementia. Thus he came to be qualified in several ways: as a psychopath, schizophrenic, unbalanced, but never insane, not at least according to legal terms.

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