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Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik
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Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  1,242 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Serial killer Gary Heidnik's name will live on in infamy, and his home, 3520 North Marshall Street in Philadelphia, is a house tainted with the memory of unbelievable horrors. What police found there was an incredible nightmare made real. Four young women had been held captive--some for four months--half-naked and chained. They had been tortured, starved, and repeatedly ra ...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published April 15th 1992 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
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Susan Savidge
Jul 16, 2008 Susan Savidge rated it it was amazing
My Dad is the arresting officer of this guy. His name is mentioned on the very first page and then a few times throughout it. Caution: If you read it, be prepared to probably have nightmares. It's a true story.
Benjamin Sobieck
Apr 16, 2011 Benjamin Sobieck rated it liked it
Sure, it's sensational. But sensational can be interesting if the story is true. "Cellar of Horror" tells the story of Philly psychopath Gary Heidnik. He kidnapped, raped, beat, killed, cooked and force fed women chained in his basement.

The first half covers the madman's criminal exploits. Author Ken Englade takes plenty of time depicting the hyper-sensational insanity. It's by far the most interesting portion of the book. But reader beware. You'll have to clench your teeth to keep the vomit dow
Jody Schnurrenberger
Jun 06, 2016 Jody Schnurrenberger rated it it was amazing
Summary of this Book...
Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik by Ken Englade is a disturbing look inside the life and crimes of one of our nation's most disturbing cases of kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder. With the intent of kidnapping ten women to impregnate them and have a family, Heidnik was caught after kidnapping six women, two of whom were killed before rescue. To further illustrate his derangement, Heidnik fed a mixture of dog food and one of the murder victims to his other kid
♥ Marlene♥
Apr 07, 2009 ♥ Marlene♥ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: True Crime fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 31, 2009 Jeannie rated it liked it
Horrible crime that scared the hell out of me but as for his writing, well it left something to be desired. The crime itself kept me interested but I felt the book drug on for too long. Kinda like....let me outta here, tell me the ending.
Amber Jones
May 02, 2017 Amber Jones rated it liked it
wish i could give it an in between rating, a 3.5 or something like that. crazy to read about something that happened so close to my home i just feel like i could have done without so much in depth trial info and a little more on the man and his crimes.
Mar 27, 2017 Cheryl rated it liked it
This was a very quick read about the gruesome crimes of Gary Heidnik. I continue to be amazed at what people are capable of even when there is debate about their sanity. At times this book was repetitive and the majority of the book focused on the daily proceedings of Heidnik's trial which were a bit boring. After finishing this, I wanted to know what happened to Gary Heidnik. In case any of you are wondering too, he died by lethal injection in 1999.
This is the story of the sick fuck who inspired the basement pit in Silence of the Lambs. Gary Heidnik kidnapped six women, raped and beat and imprisoned them. His goal was to impregnate the women and then raise a family in his basement.

Englade covers Heidnik's crimes but he fails in creating a full profile of Heidnik quickly glossing over his childhood and claims of physical abuse at the hands of his father his mother's alcoholism and his multiple hospitalizations for mental illness. On that n
Feb 20, 2015 Aimee rated it liked it
The portion of the book dealing with the trial was somewhat boring compared to the first part, but the book overall is so short that the boring section didn't feel too dragged-out to me. But then, I'm a fast reader anyway.
I remember seeing this case on the news at the time it happened, in 1987, and it scared me to death at the time.
I was most interested in the thought processes of Josefina Rivera, who was Heidnik's first captive and party to the abuse and murder of the others; she even helped hi
Misty Fogg
May 25, 2015 Misty Fogg rated it really liked it
I can only use Amy Poehler's term "tragedy porn" to discuss this book. I am captivated by tragedy porn and this book fed that beast.

The book is written a little informally about the case as it is not always clear if it is a fact or more of the author's opinion. The case is extensively catalogued from capture through the trial and has plenty of background as well. All anyone really needs to know is it is a horrific story. Truly horrific.
Aug 19, 2011 Nik rated it liked it
I love true crime stories. This was special (and scary!) because it happened kinda locally to me. Real serial killer stories are appalling and page turners all at once. Gary Heidnik was a seriously derranged man whom slipped through the justice systems hands too many times before he was caught. The author had some tongue-in-cheekiness, but since the story itself is so horrid in nature, it wasnt so bad. Read only if you can handle the graphic nature of his crimes. It was not easy for me.
Rachel Ramirez
Feb 22, 2017 Rachel Ramirez rated it liked it
What a scary thought that this man got away with his crimes for so long and with multiple women. it's terrifying that he was even married and I feel sorry for his children and women that he encountered. I liked how well researched the book as I got a good sense of the man who committed these crimes and what happened when he had you in his grasp. Truly a scary book.
Tera Baird
Dec 28, 2015 Tera Baird rated it it was ok
Yes this guy was sick, it was terrible what he did. I found the book lacking. It jumped around a lot in the beginning. From the present to the past and back. It did that lot. It made it hard to read. I would love to read more about this guy so I might find a different book.
Dec 11, 2011 Matt rated it it was ok
Shelves: true-crime
The first half of the book discussing this wacko's crimes and long history of schizophrenia was interesting. However the 2nd half dicussing the trial was very boring. All in all I think this had the ability to be an interesting book. The story is just not told very well.
Jun 09, 2011 Alex rated it liked it
I enjoyed the first half of the book but the second got repetitive. Other than that it was a very interesting and disturbing true story.
Oct 20, 2016 Sara rated it liked it
No doubt this was a sick individual. The first half of the book is intensely interesting and engaging. The second half seems like filler, to be honest.
Tom Schulte
Mar 04, 2017 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it
A sickening fiend who imprisoned women a basement whole, ala Buffalo Bill, what really made this book fascinating for me was the legal wrangling. Heidnik's defense lawyer thought he was insane legally and this could not be sentenced on the first degree murder charges, for which he was ultimately executed. This book goes through sentencing, but not any appeals or the 1999 execution.) I can't go that far; there too much history of what I felt was malingering and manipulation of the system for me t ...more
Feb 17, 2016 Vanessa rated it liked it
The start of the book was VERY interesting and gave a lot of case specific information about what these poor women went through. Then, like some true crime books, takes away from the actual case focusing more on the legalities and law specific nature of the book which can get boring and difficult to read. In order words, the second half of the book dragged on a lot and I went from not being able to put it down to not wanting to pick it up...
I would have liked to have heard more from the victims
Jun 09, 2010 Denise rated it liked it
3.0 out of 5 stars This guy should have been locked in a basement......, August 21, 2008

This review is from: Cellar of Horror: The Story of Gary Heidnik (Mass Market Paperback)

I love true crime and this was an interesting story but to me the real message was that this guy should never have been out in the normal population in the first place. It ended up being more a commentary on the problems associated with housing and treating the severely disturbed and mentally ill people in our society. Th
Dec 24, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I thought this book was one that mirrored some of the cases you hear in the news now. The girls being kidnapped and then found, but this actually goes a step further, by having the killer not just stop at kidnapping but even killing and cooking the victims and feeding them to the girls. That was sick. I always wonder what's makes people do this?
Sep 15, 2012 Fishface rated it really liked it
A good read about a hideous, hideous case. Full of troubling questions that apparently never got answered. If you want a glimpse at the depths of human depravity, check this one out. I was bothered that there was photo after photo after photo of the criminal and not one of the victims, the survivors or their families.
Steve Kemp
Aug 05, 2013 Steve Kemp rated it liked it
Ok book ,if you know nothing of the case . Sadly ,if you have watched any of the television programs about the Heidnik case then you have all and more you will get out of this book. It almost seemed like thats exactly what the author was doing when he wrote it .
Jul 30, 2011 Sheri added it
This crime takes place in Philly, about an hour away from my hometown, so it interested me. It documents an insane man who holds women captive in his cellar for very long periods of time & uses them as sex slaves. It kept my interest.
Feb 13, 2015 Ken rated it liked it
I found the book hard to read at times, not because it was poorly written but because of the sick things this guy did to at least six women. I did feel the book dragged toward the end. But over all it was a good read
Steven Shroyer
Feb 02, 2012 Steven Shroyer rated it it was amazing
Very good but gruesome tale of Gary Heidnik, a notorious serial killer. This book is more well written than most true crime I have read and it actually got me rooting for the defense lawyer. I never feel that way! Get this book!
linda treglia
May 28, 2014 linda treglia rated it did not like it
Horrific crime. Too much of the book was about the trial and not about what drove Heidnik or the victims and the aftermath. The book was written in the late 80's when the crime occurred and never updated. A more recent epilogue with events after the trial would be warranted.
Edwina Callan
Jan 16, 2014 Edwina Callan rated it it was ok
Shelves: bookcrossing, 2009
Not as well written as some of the other true crime books that I've read. It seems to have been slapped together in a hurry while the case was still in the headlines.
Jaimie Donovan
Mar 18, 2011 Jaimie Donovan rated it really liked it
This book is awesome, true and twisted right up my alley!
Dec 27, 2009 Lori rated it liked it
Amazing true story, but I didn't think the author told it very well.
Apr 29, 2012 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, true-crime
This book was better than I thought it was. I had this book for several years and kept overlooking it. It was a good fast read. This man was a nut.
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Kenneth F. Englade is a New Mexico-based author who has published nine books dealing with high profile trials. His latest book, Meltdown in Haditha: The Killing of 24 Iraqi Civilians by U.S. Marines and the Failure of Military Justice, will be published in 2015 by McFarland & Co. He also published five historical novels dealing with the pre-Civil War West. His books have been published in Germ ...more
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