Killer 'Bishop' Kept Women Chained in Basement for Months: 'Is This Guy Going to Bury Me Here?'

Josefina Rivera survived the torture of Gary Heidnik, and is featured on 'People Magazine Investigates: Surviving a Serial Killer'

<p>AP Photo</p> Gary Heidnik

AP Photo

Gary Heidnik

Josefina Rivera had no idea she was getting in the car of a dangerous, violent man. But it was right before Thanksgiving and she was in desperate need of money.

Rivera was a sex worker in 1986 when she was picked up and then taken captive for several months by Gary Heidnik, a self-styled "bishop" of a church he ran out of his living room in Philadelphia. Heidnik would go on to kidnap several other women and sexually assault them, killing two of his victims.

Rivera’s ultimate escape, which led to the rescue of three other women, is the focus of the upcoming episode of People Magazine Investigates: Surviving a Serial Killer. The episode, titled "Surviving the Bishop's Basement," airs Sunday, May 26 at 9/8 c on ID.

The congregation at Heidnik church had a small handful of people, many of whom had some form of mental disability. But underneath his church lay a dark secret.

Rivera normally did not go to the homes of clients, but made an exception for Heidnik, who drove a fancy car and introduced himself as Gary.

<p>AP Photo</p> Gary Heidnik

AP Photo

Gary Heidnik

The first sign that something was off was when the pair arrived at his home and Rivera saw the key had a double lock — meaning you needed a key to get in or out.

After they had sex in Heidnik’s upstairs bedroom, he began choking Rivera and placed her in handcuffs.

In an exclusive clip from the episode, Rivera recounts that her life flashed before her eyes when Heidnik began choking her.

“I kept yelling and screaming,” Rivera says. “And he was like, ‘If you stop struggling, I’m not going to keep choking you.’”

Once Rivera was in handcuffs, Heidnik forced her down into the basement.

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“The basement has a mattress, along with this dirt hole in the floor,” Rivera recalls. “I said to myself, ‘Is this guy going to bury me here?’”

Heidnik would end up keeping Rivera, and eventually multiple other women, chained in the basement, sometimes forcing them to stay in the hole, with wooden boards covering it up, blocking any light.

The basement would become Rivera’s entire world for the next several months. There, she was sexually assaulted and tortured by the bishop — until her courageous escape.

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, please contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or go to

People Magazine Investigates: Surviving a Serial Killer airs Sunday, May 26 at 9/8c on ID and streaming on Max.

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Read the original article on People.