Biography Channel Joel Rifkin: Serial killer. Born Joel David Rifkin on January 20, 1959, to two unwed college students. New York couple Bernard and Jeanne Rifkin adopted Joel three weeks after his birth, on February 14, 1959. Three years later they also adopted a daughter, Jan. In 1965 the family moved to East Meadow, Long Island, where Joel enrolled in Prospect Avenue Elementary School. Rifkin had difficulty fitting in with his peers, and became a frequent target of school bullies. He was excluded from team sports and neighborhood games because of his sloping posture and slow gait. Suffering from undiagnosed dyslexia, he also struggled academically despite his 128 IQ.