The Real Buffalo Bill & His House Of Horror | Gary Michael Heidnik | Part two

(Gary Michael Heidnik's victims. Picture credit:

As I mentioned in part one, some of the details shared in this second part of my coverage of this case will be distressing, I will also be sharing some of the pictures from the crime scene which may also be distressing so please bare that in mind before reading further. 

Gary Michael Heidnik was obsessed with the idea of having children and he wanted to have as many as possible. He came up with a plan to have a ''baby factory'' in his basement. He planned to kidnap as many women as he could, keep them chained up where he would torture and rape them repeatedly until they became pregnant. 

He dug a pit in his basement (which later became some of the inspiration for the character Buffalo Bill in the movie Silence of The Lambs. Buffalo Bill held his victims in a pit before he murdered them and removed their skins in an effort to create a woman's skin body suit for himself).

Josefina Rivera (who was later said to be his favourite of the women that he held captive) was kidnapped on the 25th of November 1986, she followed Gary back to his house after he promised her some money in exchange for sexual relations. Once she was in the house he dragged her to the basement where she was chained up, beaten, raped repeatedly and fed dog food. 

Gary would turn on the TV and radio loud in his house so that none of the neighbours could hear any noise coming from the basement. He was known locally as a bit of an oddball so nobody seemed to be suspicious that he had his TV/radio up loud all the time. 

24 year old Sandra Lindsay was reportedly kidnapped next on the 3rd of December 1986 and suffered the same treatment as Josefina. Sandra had mental difficulties and had been on her way to the local food store when she went missing. It is believed that Gary persuaded the naive young woman to go back to his house with him. 

Gary would carry out regular periods of torture and rape on his captives, he would force the other girls to watch as he carried out his sickening acts. If anyone complained or if he just felt like it, he would electrocute them. 

(The pit in Gary Michael Heidnik's basement where the women were held and tortured. Picture credit:

19 year old Lisa Thomas was a single mother that Gary spotted walking along the side of the road one day, a couple of days before Christmas in 1986, he stopped to give her a lift. The young woman, believing him to be friendly, got in beside him. Whilst in the car they chatted and he offered to take her back to his house for a spot of lunch, she accepted his offer. Once they were back at his house, they chatted and had something to eat, he gave her some wine and the next thing she remembered was waking up to find herself in pain, tied up, she knew she'd been raped and there was two other women in front of her who were also tied up. Gary introduced Lisa to the other girls and gave them all something to eat which was reported to be dog food and raped Lisa again whilst the other girls were forced to watch.

His next victim was 23 year old Deborah Dudley who was kidnapped on the 2nd of January 1987. Deborah endured the same routine as the other girls but she was more of a fighter and very outspoken. She complained about the living conditions in which Gary was forcing the girls to live under and he actually made some changes by providing the girls with tampons, a portable toilet and a hot bath with soap. 

Jacqueline Askins was the youngest of his victims and was kidnapped on the 18th of January 1987. 

In a bid to keep the girls quiet and as another form of torture, Gary would tape their mouths and drive screw drivers into their ears. 

(3520 North Marshall Street, Gary Michael Heidnik's house where he held six women that we know of and raped and tortured them whilst murdering two victims. Picture credit:

In February 1987, Sandra Lindsay was really struggling both psychically and psychologically to cope, she had a high fever and was seriously ill as well as starving. She died from a combination of starvation and the injuries she endured from the constant beatings. 

Gary brought Sandra's deceased body up from the basement and dismembered her with an electric saw, he kept some of the remains in a freezer and boiled the rest before mashing it up with dog food which he fed to his dogs and the other girls in the basement.

The neighbours complained of a foul smell coming from the house and the police were called. When they arrived, Gary told them that he was cooking pork and had burnt it. The police seemed to accept this explanation and left.

Nobody could imagine the absolute horror that the girls must have felt going through this horrendous nightmare. The most outspoken of the girls, Deborah Dudley, tried to escape and had answered Gary back one too many times, he decided to punish her by filling the pit full of water and electrocuting her on the 19th of March 1987 and her body was disposed of in Pine Barrens, New Jersey. 

(The conditions the women were forced to live in. Picture credit:

As I mentioned earlier, Gary seemed to have chosen Josefina Rivera as his favourite of the victims and would allow her upstairs where he would rape her in his bedroom or he would have her cook for him. Josefina played a clever game with Gary in which she tried to befriend him and pretend that she cared about him. Her plan seemed to work because she managed to convince him to let her visit her family, she told him she would come back and he believed her.

(Where the women were held and tortured. Picture credit:

Josefina agreed to help Gary kidnap another girl on the 23rd of March 1987. 24 year old Agnes Adams was kidnapped. He then drove Josefina to a petrol station where he said he would wait for her whilst she paid a quick visit to her family. As soon as she was out of the car she ran and managed to call the police who arrived on the scene quickly and went to the petrol station to arrest Gary.

(A picture of the crime scene when the police came to resuce the women from Gary's house. Picture credit:

Gary's best friend, a man by the name of Cyril Brown was also arrested because the police believed he was either involved or knew some information about Gary. Cyril confessed that he knew about Sandra Lindsay's death and had witnessed Gary dismembering her. He was released on $50,000 bail and agreed to testify against Gary,

Gary tried to commit suicide in April 1987. At his trial he tried to convince the court that the women had been in the basement when he moved in as if that was some kind of defence. He tried to plead insanity but the prosecution argued that he was of sound body and mind due to the fact that he amassed so much money through his church. He was found guilty on two counts of first degree murder and sentenced to death.

He began his sentence at the State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh.

He tried to commit suicide again in 1989 but failed. 

Surprisingly, in 1997 Gary's ex wife Betty and his daughter who was previously put into foster care, filed a stay of execution claiming that Gary was mentally ill and should not be executed. After two years of back and forth to the courts, it was ruled that the execution would go ahead. 

On the 6th of July 1999, Gary Michael Heidnik was put to death by lethal injection. He had no last words and gave no instructions on what he wanted done with his remains. He was cremated and is the last person to be executed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as of 2019.

This was a shocking case and I feel that it's one that should be talked about more. There were lots of red flags where Gary was concerned and it's shocking that he managed to get away with so much for as long as he did. I can't imagine what those women must have gone through in those horrifying months down in that basement. It's a case that I will never forget.

What are your thoughts on this case, did you know about it before? Do you believe that Gary was born evil or was it his past that shaped him that way? Let me know in the comments below or elsewhere on social media. I have included my links at the end of the post. Also, let me know if you would like me to cover some of the other serial killers that inspired the Buffalo Bill character.

RIP Deborah and Sandra.

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Check out some of the true crime cases I have covered previously:

Playing With Fire: Mick & Mairead Philpott 

What Happened To The Petit Family?

The Most Evil Cult Leader In History? | Roch Theriault

The Truck Stop Serial Killer 

Deadly Lust: The Pamela Smart Story 

The Dark & Haunting History of Overtoun Bridge 

The Stuff Of Nightmares | The Toy Box Killer: David Parker Ray

Beyond Evil: The Murder of Jessica Lunsford 

Death Row Scot: The Kenny Richey Story: Part One

Death Row Scot: The Kenny Richey Story: Part Two

Death Row Scot: The kenny Richey Story: Part Three

Don't Talk, Just Listen...The Weepy Voiced Killer

Amityville | The DeFeo Murders

What Really Happened To Mavis Bran? 

Nowhere To Run: The Marilyn McKenna Story | Part One

 Unsolved : Part Three: The Highway Of Tears & The Disappearance Of Maddy Scott 

Unsolved: Part Two | What Happened To Melanie Melanson? 

- Unsolved: Part One | Molly Bish & Holly Piirainen 

The Dark Side of The Internet: The Amanda Todd Story 

The Story of Bible John

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  1. One of those cases where you can't help but wonder if childhood trauma (physical, emotional and psychological) weren't the root cause of such a horrifying individual!
    The things he did were not just grotesque but absolutely horrifying!
    Absolutely incredible story! Well written, riveting and shocking all at once!

  2. Oh my God, what a monster. I read about him before but I wasn't aware of everything. It's such a shocking one ! I will never forget that case either. This is indeed pretty much the Ted Levine/Buffalo Bill story. HORRENDOUS...I felt sick to my stomach for all the poor victims. I do believe, he wasn't born as a monster. Some of the stuff he lived himself probably has a huge influence of what was coming later. I didn't know how to describe him properly but I was feeling nauseous reading the second part and it's pretty rare. I usually kept my composure reading cases but that one was tough. I was raging reading what he did to so many poor women. Having said that, you did another fantastic job ! You have such a gifted talent ! Thank you so much again to shared that case with all of us. As I wrote earlier, I would love to read your perspective about Ed Gein. I can't be thankful enough for your hard work, your well written and informative case. Merci !!!

  3. Wow what an absolute monster. I feel so sorry for the girls that he torture and making a women's skin body suit for him self is sicking and the Basement was just a Torture chamber. Screwdrivers in the girls ears. That is and feeding the girls dog food and human remains mixed in with it. But I am so glad that Josefina Rivera managed to play a trick on him and got to a phone to call help. And save the rest of the girls. But I think lethal injection was to good for him. I think he should have been electrocuted instead A taste of his own medicine. I have never Heard of Gary Michael Heidnik but I have seen the film silence of the lambs.

    Yet again very good read by a very talented women. I can't wait to read your next one kitty. 🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹❤️🌹

    R.I.P Deborah and Sandra.
    🌹 🌹 🌹 🌹

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