Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March 26: Torture Chamber Found in Basement

On this date in History .... March 26, 1987:  

Photo courtesy of
Philadelphia police respond to a 9-1-1 call and find a torture chamber in the basement of a former mental patient where three naked women were chained to pipes.  The true story would become the basis for horrific scenes in the movie, "The Silence of the Lambs".

Gary Heidnik was a mental patient and sex offender who had become a wealthy investor, driving a Rolls Royce and avoiding paying any taxes by becoming a self-appointed bishop of his own church. A sign hung outside the torture chamber home identifying it as a church.  

He was quite good at managing his "church" finances, turning $1500 into over half a million in about ten years.  Despite his wealth, he chose to live in the "seedier" parts of the city.

He killed one woman by putting her in a pit of water with a live electrical wire; another by starving her to death while remained chained to the wall; another by dismembering her, cooking and feeding body parts to the other captives. Attempts at escape were punished with screwdrivers in the ears or being suspended by the wrists for hours at a time.

Heidnik believed a man needed a lot of children and do achieve that, he needed to build a harem.  After his mother's death in 1970, he tried to kill himself at least a dozen times.

He received the death sentence and was the last person executed in Pennsylvania in 1999.

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