It was grim grist for an episode of the hit NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” that premiered just five month after the arrest of Joel Rifkin who is a notorious New York serial killer whose brutal four-year murder spree ended when he was caught in June 1993.
It has been said that tragedy plus time equals comedy. No time was wasted by the team of Seinfeld in churning out laughs out of one of New York’s most horrible mass murderers- Joe Rifkin is believed to have killed up to 17 women and is the subject of the upcoming special of Oxygen “Rifkin on Rifkin: Private Confessions of a Serial Killer”.
The first episode called “The Masseuse” was aired on November 18, 1993. In the main story plot, Elaine 9julie Louis-Dreyfus) was going out with a likable guy named Joel Rifkin (Anthony Cistaro).
Elaine lamented that the whole city was talking about that monster Joel Rifkin and she was dating Joel Rifkins.
Reports about how the serial killer was captured were clearly read by script writer Peter Mehlman. Authorities noticed a rank odor coming from the car of Joe Rifkin following a traffic stop that led to a car chase by police. The decaying body of his last victim was there is the trunk of his car.
The episode discusses the phenomenon of serial killers in one of Jerry Seinfield’s stand-up routines in addition to Rifkin.
On the show of Oxygen, Rifkin said that he wanted to be normal. He wanted to have the normal picket fence and three kids and a dog and a cat and get on with life.
Joe Rifkin preyed upon sex workers in New York City from 1989 to 1993. He shared a home with his mother and sister in East Meadow where he would bring some of the sex workers to brutally strangle them while others he killed in his car after sex. He dismembered some of his victims while he disposed others of in oil drums or concrete blocks while he brought the bodies of others to fields. In 1993, the New York Times reported that all over the New York region, from a Brooklyn creek to an Orange County town, he stashed bodies.
By focusing on women who were mostly invisible to society, Rifkin managed to slip under the radar of New York police. He was only caught over what was termed as a “25-cent mistake” during the early mornings of June 28, 1993 where he was spotted by the cops driving down the Southern state Parkway without a license plate.
According to a 1993 New York Daily News report, they tried to pull him over, instead of which Rifkin initiated a car chase while ended up in crashing into a utility pole.
During a police interrogation, Rifkin soon confessed to all 17 murders and even drew them maps of where to find the bodies of his victims.
According to a 2018 Newsday article, he kind of leaned back and said what is the difference between one and a hundred.
He took a moment at his sentencing to claim to the court that he felt remorse for his massive string of murders, after which he was sentenced to 203 years in prison.
The disgust and horror of the loved ones of the family of Rifkin has been associated with the killer.
In various interviews from the prison, Rifkin has continued to express regret for the murders and he claims that he did not know why he killed those women. He has come up with some potential explanations for his murderous nature in the years since his spree. He alluded to the intense bullying he endured in his youth as stoking his homicidal tendencies while talking to the New York Daily News in 2010.