BALLSTON SPA — A Halfmoon man was sentenced this week to 25 years to life in state prison for rape and kidnapping of a woman he’d met over a phone dating service, Saratoga County District Attorney’s officials said.
Prosecutors also recounted the defendant’s attacks on the woman, her ordeal and ultimately her escape.
John C. Heidrich, of Halfmoon, was found guilty by a Saratoga County jury of a total of 16 counts, including first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape and first-degree criminal sexual act.
The jury found he committed a brutal five-day assault on the woman, where he raped her and burned her, prosecutors said.
The 57-year-old woman suffered sexual and physical assaults over the five days in January 2020, leaving her with multiple injuries, including cuts, bruising and burn marks, prosecutors said. A release did not indicate when the attack occurred.
At the trial, the victim described “a horrifying and harrowing experience” and prosecutors presented physical evidence that had been collected.
The woman described how she and Heidrich met through the phone dating service and he then encouraged her to travel from Boston to Halfmoon to meet and stay with him, prosecutors said.
Heidrich then confined her to his home when she indicated she wanted to leave and then sexually and physically assaulted her, prosecutors said.
The attack took place between Jan. 7 and Jan. 11, 2020, at the defendant’s trailer. The ordeal finally ended when she was able to escape the structure and run for help, prosecutors said.
Heidrich had spoken to the victim for months over the phone and through text messages, “grooming her and luring her to Saratoga County,” prosecutors said in a release.
During that time, she shared personal details about herself, that she lived alone, that she didn’t have family and only had a couple of friends, prosecutors said. She also said she had a learning disability and other physical disabilities.
Heidrich would call her multiple times a day and sometimes numerous times in a row if she did not answer. Then, on Jan. 6, 2020, she finally got on a bus in Boston to spend a week with Heidrich, prosecutors said.
The victim testified the first day or two appeared fine. Then, “Jekyll and Hyde” as the victim called Heidrich, prosecutors said.
He threatened to chain her to cinderblocks and throw her in the river if she tried to leave. He also told her she was “going to be his slave, cook and clean for him and have sex with him,” prosecutors said.
“Defendant wouldn’t let her shower; he watched her use the toilet and would not feed her,” prosecutors said. “And then the violence began.”
He shoved her down, against cement steps and kicked her in the stomach with boots on, prosecutors said. The kicking left a giant bruise on her stomach and cuts and bruises to her legs and arms.
He strangled her with sweatshirt strings so she couldn’t breathe and even put a lit cigarette out on her back, burning her. He threw scalding hot coffee on her back, causing her skin to blister.
He sexually abused the victim on multiple occasions.
“She was left helpless, alone, in pain, afraid and sexually abused at his residence,” prosecutors said.
When she was ultimately able to escape, she hid under a truck outside the residence, watching as he looked for her, prosecutors said.
“She ultimately ran to one of his neighbors’ homes and was finally safe from the defendant,” prosecutors said.
The woman returned to Boston and reported what happened. Her injuries were examined, documented and treated.
“The treating medical personnel found so many injuries on the victim’s body that they ran out of room on the paper used to document where the injuries were located,” prosecutors said. “There were injuries on the victim from head to toe, in addition to internal injuries.”
The woman told the court of her trauma, that she will never be the same, that “she lives her life in fear thinking danger is lurking at every turn — all because of the defendant’s actions,” prosecutors recounted.
“The defendant’s acts against the victim were vicious and almost inconceivable,” prosecutor Meghan Horton said in a statement. “The victim lived through something we have only seen in a horror movie, something that seemed beyond reality. But defendant forced it to become the victim’s reality and she is forced to deal with this new reality every single day.”
Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen commended the victim’s strength and fortitude. Because she stood up, Heidrich is being held accountable.
Heggen also noted the hard work and dedication of the law enforcement agencies involved, including the New York State Police and officers in Massachusetts.