The United Church Of The Ministers Of God (Gary Heidnik)

A religious organization turned cult, notoriously led by a criminal masquerading as a preacher.

The United Church Of The Ministers Of God was a religious organization founded in 1971 by Gary Heidnik, who was later caught committing heinous criminal activities.

Founding and Operations

Gary Heidnik, born in Ohio in 1943, suffered a turbulent childhood and struggled with social interactions. He established the United Church Of The Ministers Of God in 1971 with just five followers and an initial investment of $1,500. Despite its humble beginnings, the church managed to raise over half a million dollars. It continued to hold services even as Heidnik, its self-appointed bishop, was imprisoned for his crimes.

Gary Heidnik’s Crimes

While Heidnik presented himself as a preacher and religious leader, he was involved in a series of horrific crimes. Heidnik kidnapped and tortured multiple women, holding them captive in his home’s basement. His crimes included sexual assault, murder, and cannibalism. Heidnik’s victims were predominantly Black women whom he abducted, tortured, and sometimes forced to eat the remains of others he had killed. These acts of violence were a far cry from the religious teachings he purported to uphold.

Church Activities and Members

Despite the gruesome reality of Heidnik’s actions, his church members appeared unaware of his criminal behavior. The church congregation remained operational even after Heidnik’s arrest and subsequent conviction. This continued operation suggests either a strong belief in Heidnik’s religious leadership or a lack of awareness of his criminal activities.

Legal Consequences and Aftermath

Gary Heidnik faced multiple charges, including murder, kidnapping, and rape. In 1988, he was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed by lethal injection in 1999, becoming the last person to be executed in the state of Pennsylvania. His case gained notoriety and even influenced the portrayal of the “Buffalo Bill” character in the film “Silence of the Lambs.”