Gary Heidnik was born in 1944 to an abusive father and an alcoholic mother who eventually committed suicide. Heidnik eventually dropped out of high school despite being extremely intelligent and chased his boyhood dream of being in the army but was soon discharged with a full pension because of his growing mental problems. The money he recieved monthly from the government, and some savvy investing that eventually resulted in Heidnik being worth over $500,000, meant that the budding sexual sadist had plenty of money to support himself while he worked toward honing his deadly hobby.
Soon the Bishop of his own church, mainly a front to hide his cash, Heidnik was repeatedly hospitalized for suicide attempts and general mental fragility through his adult life. Sexual aberrations were also becoming obvious and in late 1978 he was jailed for over four years for the rape and kidnapping of a retarded female acquaintance. The confinement did nothing to curb his twisted desires, however, and he took the first step toward fulfilling a long-standing fantasy of acquiring a harem of sex-slaves when he imprisoned prostitute Josefine Rivera on Thanksgiving of 1986. The next month another women joined Rivera when Heidnik ensnared Sandra Lindsay. Around the Christmas holidays two more were added, Lisa Thomas and Deborah Dudley. In the middle of January 1987, Heidnik imprisoned 18-year-old Jacqueline Askins.
The five women were subjected to cruel punishment and were constatnly restrained in Heidnik's basement either by being chained to water pipes or sealed in a pit their abductor had dug out of the basement floor. The women were fed dog food and water for the most part and spent all their time with nothing but shirts on, providing Heidnik with easy access for his frequent rapes. The women were subjected to painful tortures, also, perhaps the worst being when Heidnik became paranoid that they were plotting against him and stabbed his captives in the ears with a screwdriver to deafen them. Only Rivera, by now reasonably trusted, was spared that punishment. All the other women, those who would eventually survive at least, would suffer permanent hearing damage.
Heidnik graduated to murder and cannablism in February when Lindsay died after being suspended by one arm from her chains for several days straight. Heidnik cut up her body with a power saw and ground her flesh into meat that he ate and fed to the other women and his dogs. On March 18 Dudley, who had been a constant hassle with her defiant attitude, was placed in the basement pit and after it had been filled with water and electrocuted. With the help of Rivera, Heidnik dumped Dudley's corpse in a New Jersey park a few days later. Soon afterwards Heidnik imprisoned a replacement for Dudley, a prostitute named Agnes Adams. Luckily for her she would not suffer nearly as long as her fellow prisoners.
On March 24 Heidnik loosened the reins on Rivera a bit too much and the woman fled while on an unsupervised trip outside of the house. She notified police who apprehended Heidnik and searched the house, discovering the remaining women huddled in the dank basement. To their horror they also found parts of Lindsay scattered throughout Heidnik's freezer and refrigerator. Dudley's corpse was also soon recovered. It had been four months since Rivera's abduction.
Charged with numerous crimes, including the two murders, Heidnik was tried and convicted on all counts on July 1, 1988. He was sentenced to die for his crimes. After several death row suicide attempts he was execuated by lethal injection of July 6, 1999.