Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Heidnik: To Hell and Back

Gruesome Evidence

Just before 5 a.m. on March 25 1987, a squad of police under the direction of Homicide Lieutenant James Hansen arrived at 3520 North Marshall Street. Unable to gain access via Heidnik's intricate lock system, Hansen gave the order to break the door down. One of the first officers through the door was Dave Savidge, one of the men who had arrested Gary Heidnik. Following Josefina's direction, he and his partner, Officer McCloskey went straight to the basement.

When Savidge entered the small room, he saw two women asleep on a mattress in the middle of the room. Despite the cold conditions, their only covering was a thin, dirty blanket. As he approached them they woke and screamed until Savidge assured them that he was a police officer who had come to release them. He noticed that the women were chained to a pipe in the ceiling and wore nothing except thin blouses and socks. When one of the officers asked if there were any more women in the house, they pointed to the sheet of plywood on the floor that had plastic bags filled with soil piled on top of it.

Pushing aside the bags and the board, McCloskey saw the nude figure of Agnes squatting in the bottom of the pit. After lifting Agnes out, the police removed the women's chains and took them upstairs to a waiting ambulance. With the women freed, the police turned their attention to the search. In the kitchen, Savidge found an aluminium pot on the stove, which was badly scorched and contain a yellowish fatty substance. On the kitchen counter was an industrial food processor, which had been recently used, possibly for raw meat. Inside the stove, he found an oven dish containing a charred piece of bone that resembled a human rib. Up to that point, Savidge was still struggling to believe what had really occurred in the room, but when he opened the fridge, what he found removed all doubt. Lying on a shelf in the freezer compartment was a human forearm.

Gary Heidnik being led to court in handcuffs (AP)
Gary Heidnik being led to court in
handcuffs (AP)

Over several days, police searched the house and yards detailing every piece of paper and material they found. They excavated the front and back yards but did not find any further human remains. In the house they found a closet full of pornographic magazines all of which featured black women. Although the house and surrounds gave the impression that the owner had been a disturbed person existing only on a veteran's pension, they later discovered that Gary Heidnik was in fact a rich man, having amassed an amazing $550,000 in a Merrill Lynch investment account. While the search was continuing, Heidnik was being questioned in custody as police attempted to unravel the life and crimes of the scruffy individual the press was already calling "a vicious madman."

 

 

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