Josefina Rivera to be reunited with her kids, finally.

In 1986 Josefina Rivera was kidnapped by Gary Heidnik in Philadelphia. He held her captive, raped and tortured her in his cellar for over 5 months. There were 5 other women in that basement with her.

Josefina Rivera

Before being kidnapped Josefina was raising 3 children Latoya was 5 years old, Zornae was just 11 months old and the baby, Ricardo who was 6 weeks old. Once she was got away from Heidnik Josefina lost custody of her children.
The courts looked at her life before the kidnapping and at the stress from the kidnapping and they (probably wisely) removed her children from her care.
Latoya Rivera was raised by her father; Ricardo and Zornae were adopted by another family and moved to Florida.

“A lot of the information that allowed us to find her came from our adoptive parents,” Ricardo Sepulveda said.
He said he and his sister grew up in a loving home with parents who understood that they would eventually want to know their mother’s story. They kept a file with newspaper clippings and records.

On Christmas eve 2010 Josefina will be reunited with her children for the first time since her kidnapping.

Their mother will arrive Christmas Eve.
“We’re so nervous, because we’re just counting down the hours and every minute and every second,” Zornae Sepulveda said.
Her brother said he imagines that it will be be “so overwhelming” to hug her and say “I love you” for the first time.

Full story here

I wish them a Merry Christmas, although I have a feeling they do not need my wishes for that!

Gary Michael Heidnik (November 22, 1943 – July 6, 1999) was an American murderer who kidnapped, tortured and raped six women and kept them prisoner in his Philadelphia, Pennsylvania basement.
I really do not want to dwell on Heidnik so here is a quick reference for you if you are interested.

Wikipedia Page on him

  1. Although I did not realize that Josefina Rivera’s children were taken from her, I recall her horrific story. I too will pray for Rivera and her children. As for Gary Michael Heidnik, I hope he spends an eternity in the down under roasting.

    • Jenn Lehnherr
    • January 26th, 2011


    Your story just aired on Investigation Discovery. I was struck by the strength of your will to help the other women out of the cellar. I feel it was very unfortunate that you lost your children, but hope your reunion was one that was bittersweet. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family.

    • Sonya Banks
    • February 12th, 2011

    Sonya Banks :
    I saw a documentary about your experience in that house. My family live around the corner from the house on 6 th street.At that time it occur my child was about 2 years old. I always had a weird feeling about that house when I was growing up I dont know if he live there then but they wouldhave a coffin on the porch for Holloween that would make me feel uneasy. I am sad that you had to go thru that ordealbut only the strong can SURVIVE. MY HAIR IN THE BACK OF MY NECK STILL STAND. THANK YOU FOR BEING A STRONG LATIN WOMEN.LOVE YOUR SELF ALWAYS JOSEFINA!

  2. I write a blog about serial killers and crime, you may read a post about Gary Michael Heidnik, I’m so glad that Ricardo Sepulveda have been reunited with his mother.

  3. I am sure that Josefina Rivera appreciates any and all support.
    I do want to say, so that there is no confusion, that I am not Josefina. I do not know if she has read this blog.

    Thank you all for reading.

    • zornae
    • June 5th, 2012

    thank you all this one of josefina daughter thank you all for the support

    • Thank you.
      If you visit here again, please let your mom know that many people still have her and her family in their hearts and we are awed by her bravery.

      I hope that things have only gotten better for all of you since this was posted!

      • kristian slimi
      • June 16th, 2012

      I hope Josefina and the kids had a good life. I disagree that her kids should have been taken from her, the sate should have helped her with counseling and helped her to be a better person and mom rather than take them and she be more depressed, (I have been in that situation)…. i would love to know how your story end(s), did you have a happy reunion and are you still in contact with your momma?
      I will always have you all in my thoughts and prayers.
      LOVE AND PEACE <3<3

      • CeeCee farmer
      • August 3rd, 2012

      Hello Miss Zornae,
      My name is CeeCee and I am a rape victim and I would love to talk to your mother, I know that you might get a lot of messages like this, but I am in Law School now to become an advocate for women like me and your mother. If it will be a problem or and uncomfortable situation I truly understand. But if I am not allowed to talk to your mother, please send her my best wishes and I believe she is a hero in a lot of victims eyes. She is a strong and beautiful person, and my heart goes out to you and your family. May GOD keep his eye on you and your family, you are truly blessed and lucky to have a wonderful person like your mother in your life. She is a true survivor. Here is my email address just in case I maybe able to speak to her,

    • zornae
    • June 28th, 2012

    THANK ALL FOR CAREING AND AT @ KRISTIAN SLIMI WE DID Have a good life and we were glad the we met her and now that we have her in our life , she a good woman and strong to i hope one day i can be as strong as her !!!!! but me and my brother had a good life even tho we miss her so much . but keep us in ur prayers cause we need it. and yes we still in contact wit and in fact i moved to new jersey to be close to her and our reunion went really good it was one of the happyest day of my life and it was so crazy that i look just like her it was good time !!!! thank u agian for careing !!!!

    i will keep u in my prayer to

    josafina daughter zornae

    • I am so happy to hear that there has been so much positive in your lives.
      You and your mom are inspiring.
      Thank you for updating us!

    • This is a message for Zornae – I’m so thrilled you have had a wonderful reunion with your mother Josefina. It is such a blessing that you have found each other again. I don’t know if you would mind passing on a message to her from me since I am having trouble tracing her but I am a writer working with a publishing house who is interested in talking to her about potentially putting together a book about her experiences. This would be a very good opportunity and I do hope your mom (and yourself) might be interested in discussing the options. As many of the comments on here note, she is a brave and courageous lady who should be held up as an inspiration to others. Together we could reach a massive audience by writing her book.
      You can contact me on here:
      I have already ghost-written two books and the first has sold over 60,000 copies to date. You can see the details on my wordpress account. The second is out this week. Please do contact me (I am in the UK by the way) either way to let me know if your mum might be interested.
      Very best wishes,
      First Features Ltd

    • Sherry Jackson
    • August 31st, 2012

    This message is for Josephina and her children. Josephina, you are an inspiration to millions of people. Your intelligence and wisdom kept you alive and saved the other girls. Your children should be proud of the incredible woman who is their mother. I am so sorry for how your family fell apart after your mother’s heroic acts to save herself and the other girls and put away a man who, undoubtedly, would have gone on to kill, rape, and abuse more. Josephina, you should have been treated as the heroine you are, and you should have been given any and all of the help you needed to stay together as a family, instead of being further abused by the society for whom your brave acts helped. You are in my prayers. Please accept my apology on behalf of all those people who failed you.

    Sincerely yours,
    Sherry Jackson

  4. I will immediately grab your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription hyperlink or e-newsletter service.
    Do you’ve any? Kindly let me recognise so that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

    • October 13th, 2013


    • Dominique Myrick
    • November 22nd, 2013

    wow that is so sad and it touch my soul..

    • Moira Hamilton
    • September 29th, 2014

    I have just read this book and felt so compelled to send a message to Josefina and her family … I just wanted to say your words have touched me and what you went through in that house is horrendous… May you find peace in your heart to enjoy your re-united family.

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