PHILADELPHIA -- It has all the makings of a horror flick -- a self-styled preacher who shackles, rapes and tortures mentally retarded women in a basement dungeon, killing two and dismembering one corpse and feeding it to his other captives.
The difference is that this story, authorities and survivors say, is real, and getting more bizarre with each passing day.
As authorities continue to gather evidence linking Gary Heidnik, 43, to the crimes, a picture emerges of an enigmatic man with a long history of mental illness and alienation from society. It also shows Heidnik's problems and eccentricities were well known to authorities.
Heidnik is to go before a Philadelphia judge Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on two murder counts, four counts each of rape and kidnapping, and charges of abuse of corpse and other crimes.
Until then, he remained under intense supervision in the city Detention Center because of a failed suicide attempt Friday.
In a case with so many bizarre twists, it has been hard for police and reporters to separate conjecture from fact.
Police Capt. Robert Grasso, who heads the multi-pronged investigation, has refused to confirm anything the four survivors have told police, or what leads police were following.
But in an interview with United Press International, Grasso said, 'There is very little I have learned about Mr. Heidnik that I do not consider outlandish.'
'Many aspects of this investigation are extremely unusual,' Grasso said. 'I wouldn't be surprised about anything regarding Mr. Heidnik.'
What police have confirmed is this:
-Soon after Heidnik's arrest March 25, police rescued two half-naked women shackled to pipes in Heidnik's basement, and a third victim who was found confined to a large enclosed pit dug into the basement floor.
-About 24 pounds of human body parts were found in Heidnik's refrigerator, in his oven, and in a pot on his stove. Heidnik fed human remains to his two dogs and may have mixed them with dog food he fed to the captives, police said.
-All six victims were young and black, and some were mentally retarded. Heidnik is white.
-Heidnik is wealthy. He drove a new Cadillac and a Rolls-Royce and described himself as a minister in the United Church of the Ministers of God, based at his house. He was arrested with about $1,900 in his pocket, and evidence showed he had $600,000 in stocks that he apparently amassed mostly through stock trading while in prisons and mental hospitals.
Police say one slaying victim was killed when Heidnik attatched live electrical wires to her shackles as she stood in the water-filled pit. The other was hung by one arm until dead and then dismembered in Heidnik's bathtub with a chainsaw.
But no one has been able to explain why Heidnik allegedly raped, tortured and murdered his captives.
Several authorities said they could see Heidnik had problems long ago.
Heidnik was discharged from the Army in 1963 with a 100 percent disability due to psychiatric problems. He had served just five months as a peacetime medic.
Any attempt to retrieve his records from military hospital computers 'literally triggers a light-and-buzzer alarm,' one newspaper said.
Heidnik's first reported brush with the law occurred in 1976 when he allegedly shot a neighbor in the face when the neighbor tried to coax Heidnik into leaving his basement, where he had barricaded himself. The neighbor, who was black, told a newspaper Heidnik was a white supremacist who was preparing for a 'race war.'
In 1979, Heidnik stood trial for abducting a mentally retarded woman from a state facility and holding her in a storage area for 10 days.
A clinical psychologist told UPI last week he warned the judge in that case of Heidnik's potential for deviate sexual assault of women.
Wayne Blodgett said that based on psychological testing and interviews, Heidnik presented a 'high probability for serious or even bizarre offenses against relatively helpless members of the community.'
'Of particular concern is the defendant's potential for engaging in sexually assaultive crimes against females,' Blodgett wrote.
Heidnik's 'prognosis for recovery was extremely grave,' Blodgett said last week.
The judge in the case said Heidnik 'will be a danger both to himself and to society,' published reports said, and convicted Heidnik on lesser abduction charges. He served 52 months in various prisons and mental facilities.
In October 1985, Heidnik married a Filipino woman with whom he had corresponded for two years. Several months later, she fled the house and told police Heidnik had raped and assaulted her.
Heidnik was charged with spousal rape, but the case was later discharged.
Some published reports have said Heidnik was caught before his grandiose plans could be completed.
The Philadelphia Daily News reported Heidnik had been digging a second pit, and that he planned to abduct five more women and take some of them to a plantation he owned in South Carolina so they could live as a family.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Heidnik told captives he wanted to impregnated 10 women in all, perhaps to sell the babies on the 'black market.' Cyril Brown, 31, an alleged accomplice and friend of Heidnik's, also has been charged in one woman's death and was being held without bail.