Serial Killer Joel Rifkin aka Joel the Ripper (Crime Documentary)

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Joel David Rifkin (born January 20, 1959) is an American serial killer. In 1994 he was sentenced to 203 years in prison for the murders of nine women between 1989-93. He is believed to have killed up to 17 victims between 1989-93 in New York City and in Long Island, New York. Although he often hired sex workers in Brooklyn and Manhattan, he lived in East Meadow, a suburban town on Long Island.

He is also suspected to be responsible for some of the victims of the Gilgo Beach Killer, the remains of whom were found in March and April 2011. In an April 2011 prison interview with Newsday, Rifkin denied having anything to do with the (at the time) recently discovered remains. Experts and victims' rights advocates, however, believe that those denials have no value.

Rifkin's birth mother was a 20-year-old college student, and his biological father was a 24-year-old college student and army veteran. At three weeks old he was adopted by an upper-middle-class Long Island couple, on February 14, 1959. His adoptive father, Benjamin Rifkin, was of Russian Jewish descent and his adoptive mother, Jeanne (Granelles), of Spanish descent, converted to Judaism when she married.

Rifkin performed poorly in school due to learning disabilities and was unpopular with classmates due to his poor social skills. He graduated from East Meadow High School in 1977, then attended Nassau Community College, State University of New York, Brockport and State University of New York, Farmingdale, but left before earning a degree. After leaving college he found work as a landscaper.

Rifkin committed his first murder in 1989, killing a woman in his home in East Meadow. He then dismembered her body, removing her teeth and fingertips, putting her head in a paint can and then leaving the paint can in the woods of a golf course in southern New Jersey and her legs farther north, then dumping her remaining torso and arms into the East River around New York City.

Over the next four years, it is presumed he killed 16 more women. After his final arrest in 1993, he was implicated in the murder of a woman whose severed head was discovered on a Hopewell, New Jersey, golf course on March 5, 1989. In 2013 investigators determined this victim, a sex worker named Heidi Balch was the same woman he described as his first victim.

Police finally caught up to Rifkin on June 28, 1993, when state troopers spotted him driving his Mazda pickup truck without license plates on the Southern State Parkway. A high-speed chase ended in Mineola, New York when he crashed into a utility pole directly in front of the courthouse where he eventually stood trial. Troopers detected a foul odor from the back of the truck. It came from the corpse of his final victim: sex worker and dancer Tiffany Bresciani, 22, the girlfriend of Dave Rubinstein (a.k.a. Dave Insurgent, a member of the 1980s punk rock band Reagan Youth), Rifkin had picked Bresciani up in his pickup truck on June 24, 1993, where she was working on Allen Street in Manhattan, New York City.

During his trial, Rifkin was represented by Mineola, New York-based attorney John Lawrence. He was found guilty of nine counts of second-degree murder in 1994 and sentenced to 203 years to life in prison. His first possible parole date is February 26, 2197.
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