Gary Heidnik, late of the city of Philadelphia, killer...

Gary Heidnik spent most of his life in and out of mental institutions. Honorably discharged from the army in 1962, he invested what money he had saved in the stock market. He proved to be a financial wiz and amassed a small fortune out of his stock portfolio. Unfortunately, nothing else in his life had such positive results.

Gary Heidnik's childhood was rough. His father would lock him outdoors in urine-soaked underwear for wetting the bed. His alcoholic mother forced him to steal money to buy cheap wine and whiskey. She eventually killed herself to escape her own mental illness. On the night she committed suicide, she phoned her husband at a bar to tell him she'd overdosed on medicine. He stayed at the bar to have another drink.

In 1971 Heidnik formed the "United Church of the Ministries of God" of which he was an "ordained minister". The church served as a tax shelter as well as a way to meet and sexually abuse retarded women from a local institute.

On May 17, 1978 Heidnik was arrested after the mentally retarded sister of his girlfriend was found chained in his basement. That proved a forewarning of his future behavior.

By 1986, Heidnik fully committed himself to deviant behavior and came up with an idea to capture and keep women as his "sex-slaves". He procured his first victim, a part-time prostitute, on Thanksgiving Day. He kept her in a pit in his basement and fed her only bread, water and dog food. Soon three more prisoners were added to his harem. By February 1987, one of his "sex-slaves" starved to death after hanging from the rafters for several days. A replacement "recruit" proved not to be submissive enough and was promptly killed. Heidnik hooked her to electrodes, forced her to stand in a pit full of water, and electrocuted her.

Heidnik proceeded to dismember the two dead girls and stashed body parts all around his house. He ground pieces of their flesh, mixed it with dog food and fed it to his other captives. On March 22, 1987, one of the captives escaped, told authorities about Heidnik's torture chamber, and led them to the site.

During Heidnik's trial, his defense attorney tried to blame his psychosis on LSD experiments allegedly performed on him by the military during his tour of duty in the 60's. The jury did not buy it and on July 3, 1987, condemned Gary Heidnik to death. On December 31, 1988 he overdosed on Thorazine and fell into a comma from which he later recovered.

Ten years later, he was finally scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at the Rockview State Prison in Bellefonte on April 15, 1997, but a series of last minute appeals won him a hearing to determine his mental competency.

At the hearing three psychiatrists retained by death penalty opponents said Heidnik was incapable of understanding the proceedings. "If there's an Olympics for mental illness, Mr. Heidnik would have won a gold medal," Dr. Lawson Bernstein said.

Heidnik, however claimed that he wanted to be lethally injected, saying, "I want you to execute an innocent man so there will be no more capital punishment. When you knowingly execute an innocent man, that's the end of capital punishment in this country."

Next, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court had wrongly denied Heidnik's daughter, Maxine Davidson White, her request to intervene in the case, and ordered U.S. District Judge Franklin S. Van Antwerpen to issue an indefinite stay of execution.

On June 25, 1999, the state Supreme Court granted Gary Heidnik's request to be put to death, ruling that his daughter had no right to try to block the execution on his behalf. In a unanimous decision the court ruled that Heidnik was mentally competent and could make his own decisions regarding an appeal, denying "standing" to his daughter.

Heidnik, while incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh, claimed to be mute because the devil had placed a cookie in his throat, and expressed no change of heart to prison officials about being executed.

On July 7, 1999, Heidnik, 55, was put to death by lethal injection by the Commonwealth of Pensylvannia. His final meal consisted of black coffee and two slices of cheese pizza. Heidnik spent the hours before his death alternately resting and pacing in his cell. He was visited by his daughter who later did not witness the execution. His only request on the last day of his life was for a radio to be played outside his cell and that it be tuned to country music.

After his death Governor Tom Ridge issued the following statement: "Twelve years ago, Gary Heidnik kidnapped six women. For four months, he imprisoned them in chains, in the filth and stench of a hole dug under his home. He raped and tortured those poor women, in ways that are too depraved and brutal to describe. He killed two of them, Sandra Lindsay and Deborah Dudley.

"So horrible were his deeds, a jury of twelve Pennsylvanians determined unanimously that he must forfeit his life. Tonight, he paid that price. In doing so, he suffered far less than the women he tortured and killed. Our thoughts and prayers tonight are with them."