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Killer who inspired film character carved up victim’s body and fed it to others

A twisted serial killer raped and slaughtered women in a torture pit dubbed the House of Horror – with his crimes so horrific they inspired a character in Silence of the Lambs.

Between November 1986 and March 1987, Gary Heidnik kidnapped six black women who he beat, tortured and raped.

Two died including 24-year-old Sandra Lindsay having been starved and tortured while also suffering from an untreated fever. Her body was dismembered by the sicko, with her ribs cooked in an oven and her head boiled in a pot.

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The rest of her body was put through a meat grinder and mixed with dog food before being fed to other kidnapped women.

Deborah Dudley, 23, was another victim who died after she was electrocuted. Her body was disposed in the Pine Barrens Nature Reserves in New Jersey.

Surviving victims Josefina Rivera, 25, Lisa Thomas, 19, Jacqueline Askins, 18, and Agnes Adams, 24, testified he said that he wanted the women whom he had kidnapped to have his children

The killer's crimes were so horrific they inspired the character of Buffalo Bill in iconic horror Silence of the Lambs.

In the 1991 film, the fictional brute skins women and leaves behind a trail of corpses but showrunner Myles Reiff said Heidnik's real story was even more horrifying.

“I actually think that Heidnik's real story is actually scarier than Buffalo Bill," he told Oxygen Digital.

“Buffalo Bill had one girl in his pit who he was basically keeping alive because he wanted to kill her and take her skin off her body. Heidnik had six women that he was trying to create a baby farm and he was every day raping and torturing them."

Heidnik had a history of crime with his first offence dating back to 1976 when he was charged with aggravated assault after shooting a tenant of a house he offered for rent, with an unlicensed pistol. The bullet grazed the man's face.

Two years later, he had another run in with the law after signing out Alberta Davidson, the sister of his then-girlfriend Anjeanetta, from a mental institution on day leave. Heidnik imprisoned her in a locked storage room in his basement but when she was found, she was examined and it was revealed she had been raped.

Heidnik was jailed for kidnapping, rape, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, and interfering with the custody of a committed person but only spent three years of his sentence in mental institutions before his release in 1983.

The deviant was again arrested and charged for crimes related to sexual assault after raping of his wife Betty Disto.

Heidnik is said to have been emotionally abused by his father who mocked his bedwetting when he was younger by forcing him to hang his soiled sheets for the neighbours to see.

The problems weren’t just at home. He was isolated at school and refused to make eye contact with other students. He joined the Army after graduation but was honourably discharged after 13 months after he was diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder.

Heidnik was finally arrested, charged and convicted for his heinous crimes including two counts of first degree murder, six counts of kidnapping, five counts of rape in 1987.

On March 23, 1987, Josefina Rivera, one of the victims, had managed to get Heidnik to trust her enough so she asked that he let her visit her family.

Josefina, told her boyfriend what had happened and called the police. Responding officers arrested him as he waited for her at the gas station.

Josefina’s quick thinking saved the rest of the girls who were still in the basement and on July 6, 1999, Heidnik was executed by lethal injection and his body was cremated.

Read next:

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  • Serial killers who started on animals – the red flags that show murderous traits

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