Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Gary Heidnik: To Hell and Back


From the confines of the pit, even though the radio was still on, Josefina clearly heard a woman complaining and the sounds of a chain dragging across the floor. A short time later, Rivera's heart leapt as the board was lifted and Heidnik dragged her from the pit. Josefina looked up and saw another young, black woman, naked except for a blouse, chained to the pipe in the ceiling in the same manner, as she had been the first night. She stared at the woman who seemed to be completely oblivious to what was happening to her. Heidnik later introduced the girl as Sandy Lindsay before leaving them alone. As Sandy spoke to Josefina began to understand why the new arrival seemed so detached, she was retarded.

Sandy told Josefina that she had been a friend of Heidnik's for several years since they had met at the Elwyn Institute, which was a local hospital for the mentally and physically handicapped. She described Gary as a good friend who always looked after her. In a voice devoid of emotion she described how she had often had sex with Gary and his friend Tony. Later she became pregnant, but had an abortion. When Heidnik learned what she had done, he flew into a rage and offered her a thousand dollars to have his baby. When she refused, Heidnik took her prisoner and brought her to the house. As she finished her story, Sandy dissolved into tears as she began to realize her predicament.

One day Heidnik told Sandy that her sister and two cousins had come looking for her but had gone away assuming no one was home. He later forced Sandy to write a note to her mother telling her that she had gone away and would call later. He told the women that he would post the letter from New York so her mother would think Sandy had run away. Although Sandy didn't seem to understand the implication of the note, the street-wise Josefina understood that Heidnik's intended to keep them prisoner indefinitely.

As the days dragged into weeks, Heidnik's behavior became increasingly bizarre. He fed them sporadically and kept them semi naked so that he could indulge his sexual appetite when he felt like it, which was often. When he was absent, they huddled together for warmth and waited in fear for his return. On occasion, they tried calling for help, which resulted in savage beatings, which in turn caused them to cry even louder. Any deviation from his rules was punished by further beatings or a period of incarceration in the dreaded hole. Another form of punishment he devised was to attach the girls to an overhead beam by one arm and leave them suspended for hours on end.

While Heidnik was developing his skills as a torturer, Sandra's mother was actively searching for her. The mother told an officer that she believed her daughter was being held against her will by a man she knew only as Gary who lived at 3520 North Marshall Street. She gave the officer all the information she had including a phone number but was unable to furnish a last name. The officer tried calling the number and even went to the house, but got no response and eventually dropped the inquiry.



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