The identity of a woman whose head was found on a New Jersey golf course in 1989 — a murder that was linked to notorious Long Island serial killer Joel Rifkin — has finally been confirmed.
The decapitated woman was long believed to be the first victim in Rifkin’s four-year series of killings, according to the Associated Press.
Heidi Balch’s head was found on a course in Hopewell Township, near Trenton, but it took police almost 25 years to identify her with the help of DNA.
After he was arrested, Rifkin admitted to police that he had disposed of a body in the area, but remembered her as a prostitute named “Susie”. Police in New York began a search for a prostitute they had previously arrested who went by the name “Susan Spencer”, along with 15 others with similar names. A search for Spencer led police to Ohio and Florida, where they discovered that, along with other aliases, Spencer had also used the name Heidi Balch.
Her parents, who knew Balch was working as a prostitute, didn’t initially report her as missing. It wasn’t until 2001 that Balch’s aunt listed her as a missing person in New York. Police tested DNA from the body against that of Balch’s parents, and it was a match.
Rifkin’s string of killings ended when police pulled him over in 1993 for driving his pickup without license plates. In the back of the trunk officers discovered the body of 22-year-old prostitute Tiffany Bresciani.
Rifikin was sentenced to more than 200 years in prison.