A notorious serial killer and a head found on a New Jersey golf course a quarter of a century ago have been definitively linked this week, providing some closure to the family of a long-dead woman likely the first victim of convicted murderer Joel Rifkin.
The serial killer and head found back in 1989 were linked through DNA testing this week, positively identifying the remains of victim Heidi Balch. Balch, a sex worker, went missing during Rifkin’s killing binges and was 25 at the time of her disappearance.
Rifkin was not stopped until 1993 and was caught only because he drove without tags on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island. Arresting officers noticed the smell of decomposition in Rifkin’s vehicle and discovered the dismembered remains of a woman in the car.
The remains were later discovered to be those of Rifkin’s final victim, Tiffany Bresciani, 22, murdered four years after the serial killer discarded a head in New Jersey.
Convicted of nine murders, Rifkin was not prosecuted for an additional number of deaths. Back in 2011, the serial killer spoke of his actions, saying: “Certain things are very hard to stop. You think of people as things … There were mini clusters, little sets of three.”
He continued: “Three were dismembered. Three were in oil drums. Some were in water. Some were on land. It’s like my own little nightmare scenarios.”
Rifkin admits had he not been caught, far more women likely would have died. He said: “I don’t know. Why do people try to quit smoking for their entire lives? As much as I say I wanted to stop, there probably would’ve been others.”
The serial killer’s link to the head found in 1989 is not likely to affect Rifkin’s fate, as he is already jailed.