Joel Rifkin

Joel Rifkin

Infobox Serial Killer
name=Joel Rifkin

birthname=Joel David Rifkin
alias=Joel the Ripper
birth=birth date and age|1959|1|20
location=New York
states=New York
apprehended= June 27, 1993
penalty=203 years to life

Joel David Rifkin (born January 20 1959) is an American serial killer who murdered 18 women, mostly drug addicted prostitutes, between 1989 and 1993 in New York City. Although Rifkin often hired prostitutes in Brooklyn and Manhattan, he lived in East Meadow, a suburban town on Long Island. During his trial, Rifkin was represented by Mineola-based attorney John Lawrence.

Early life

The son of unknown parents, he was adopted by Bernard and Jeanne Rifkin when he was three weeks old. [cite web|url=|title=The Drifter, Joel Rifkin |accessdate=March 8|accessyear=2007] The couple adopted another child, a daughter, three years later. In 1965, the family settled in East Meadow, New York, where Rifkin would spend most of his remaining years. A shy, awkward child, he was a target for bullies, and he did poorly in school despite having a tested IQ of 128. After graduating from high school, Rifkin, who was particularly interested in horticulture and photojournalism, made several attempts at community college and attended the State University of New York at Brockport, where he worked for a time as a photographer on the school's newspaper "The Stylus". He held down various odd jobs, spending much of the little money he made on prostitutes.

In February 1987, Rifkin's adoptive father committed suicide to end the pain of cancer, thereby increasing Rifkin’s depression. At this time he became increasingly obsessed with violence, murder, and prostitution. Rifkin was arrested for soliciting a prostitute on August 22, 1987 in Hempstead, Long Island. He concealed this arrest from his family.

Rifkin committed his first murder in 1989, killing a prostitute, dismembering her body and tossing it into the East River. Over the next four years, he killed 16 more prostitutes. Sometimes he would take his victims back to East Meadow, to the house where he lived with his sister and elderly mother. Other times he killed them in his car.

Police finally caught up to Rifkin in June 1993, when state troopers spotted his pickup truck without license plates on the Southern State Parkway. A high-speed chase ended in Mineola, where he crashed into a utility pole which was located directly in front of the courthouse in which he would eventually stand trial. Troopers detected an odor from the back of the truck. It came from the dead body of Tiffany Bresciani, 22, the girlfriend of Dave Rubinstein (a.k.a. Dave Insurgent, a member of the 1980s punk band Reagan Youth), and his final victim.

Rifkin was found guilty of nine murders in 1994 and sentenced to 203 years to life. He would be eligible for parole only in 2197.

Rifkin's prison life

In early 1994, it was reported that Rifkin had engaged in a jailhouse scuffle with mass murderer Colin Ferguson. Prison officials decided in 1996 that Rifkin was so notorious that his presence in the general prison population could be disruptive. He was confined to his cell at the Attica Correctional Facility for 23 hours a day. He spent more than four years in solitary confinement before being transferred to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Clinton County. In 2000, a state appellate court determined that prison officials had not violated Rifkin's constitutional rights by housing him in isolation. Rifkin's lawsuit seeks $50,000 for each of his 1,540 days in solitary confinement (totaling $77 million). If he were to receive any money, it would be subject to state laws that earmark most of the award for the families of his victims. Corrections officials say that Rifkin is now imprisoned with more than 200 other inmates at Clinton who are not allowed into the general prison population.

In popular culture

In the "Seinfeld" episode "The Masseuse", Elaine Benes dates a man (played by Anthony Cistaro) who is coincidentally named Joel Rifkin. After a few humorous mishaps, she suggests he change his name to something less frightening like Deion, Ned or Remy (all of which he hates). Another name she proposes is ironically O.J. (either after Buffalo Bills running back Orenthal James "O. J." Simpson or New York Giant Ottis James "O.J." Anderson) [ [ Seinfeld - "The Masseuse" transcript] ] ; the episode aired November 18, 1993, seven months before the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman for which O.J. Simpson was later tried.

Because of his crimes, Rifkin was referred to by some tabloids as 'Joel the Ripper', an obvious reference to Jack the Ripper.

Some European media reported that Joel had photographed British pop star Kim Wilde in the early eighties. [ [ Pop star Kim and the New York Ripper] . In: Daily Mirror (UK), July 2, 1993]

The account (from both crime reports and interviews with Rifkin himself) "From the Mouth of the Monster: The Joel Rifkin Story" was written by one of Rifkin's former classmates and friends, Robert Mladinich.


External links

* [ Crime Library]
*" [ Adoption:Uncharted Waters] " by David Kirschner, PhD includes three chapters detailing his psychological interviews with Rifkin prior to and during the trial.

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