The Landscaper's Secrets

No one missed the victims until a serial killer stumbled into the hands of the law

THE HOME JOEL RIFKIN SHARED WITH his sister and widowed mother on Long Island is a horticulturist's delight. Lush beds of lavender, lamb's ears, lilies, begonias, irises and poppies surround the house. The box hedges are perfectly manicured. A magnolia tree thrives. The plants are a living testament to Joel Rifkin's gifts as a gardener. "Joel could tell you exactly what's growing," says Frank Barton, who lives across the street from the landscaper. "He knew how long it'll grow and when it'll die." But Joel Rifkin cultivated life and death in other, more odious ways. And last week he revealed a...

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