Where is Gary Heidnik Now? | The Killer Who Inspired Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs

Gary Heidnik

What did Gary Heidnik do?

Gary Heidnik was an American murderer and serial rapist who kidnapped, tortured and raped six women, ultimately murdering two of them. Heidnik held them captive in a self-dug pit in his basement floor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

He was apparently one of the inspirations for the Buffalo Bill character in The Silence of the Lambs

What happened during Heidnik’s early life?

Gary Heidnik was born on the 22nd November, 1943 in Eastlake, Ohio. When he was placed into the care of his father and his new wife, Heidnik claimed he was emotionally abused by his father, that he suffered a lifelong problem of bed wetting, and that his father would humiliate him by forcing him to hang his stained sheets from his bedroom window so the neighbours could see. 

At school, Heidnik didn’t interact with fellow students and struggled with eye contact. He was also bullied for his oddly shaped head, which was apaprently caused from falling out of a tree. Despite his problems, he performed well academically and spent time in the military academy before returning to school, but he failed to graduate, dropping out to join the army when he was 17. 

What happened at Heidnik’s trial?

Heidnik’s defence lawyer at his trial tried to claim that Heidnik was legally insane, but it was successfully rebutted by the prosecution team. The fact that he successfully made around $550,000 through his brokerage account was used to prove that he was an clever investor, and certainly not insane.

On the 1st July, 1988, Heidnik was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, six counts of kidnapping, five counts of rape, four counts of aggravated assault and two counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse. He was sentenced to death. In January 1989, he attempted suicide with an overdose of prescription drugs.

Where is Gary Heidnik now?

Gary Heidnik was originally incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution in Pittsburgh.

He was executed by lethal injection on the 6th July, 1999 at the State Correctional Institution in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. He was the last person to be executed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and remains one of only three people to be executed in Pennsylvania since the resumption of the death penalty. 

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