Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Cannibalism: The Ancient Taboo in Modern Times

The Offal Truth

Robert Ackermann
Robert Ackermann

The night of August 26, 2007, the roommates quarreled for what was hardly the first time. The high-strung Ackermann had discovered he was missing a pornographic video cassette and a cigarette lighter. He confronted his roommate. Josef Schweiger denied everything, but he did have the tape. Furious, Ackermann rifled through the older man's pockets to see what else he might have pilfered, and a vicious fight broke out. In Ackermann's version of the story, the two exchanged blows until he hit Schweiger with such force that the older man fell on the bed, knocked out; police say Ackermann in fact bludgeoned Schweiger with a 22-pound dumbbell, cracking his skull. Ackermann says that he didn't realize there was anything seriously wrong, so he left Schweiger on the bed, went back to his own room and cooked and ate his (non-human) dinner, read a few chapters of a book and drifted peacefully and innocently to sleep.

Josef Schweiger
Josef Schweiger

Schweiger didn't get up the next day. Ackermann claims he assumed the man was sleeping off a hangovera frequent occurrence. That night, he checked in on him, and saw him sprawled in the same position in which he'd left him. Ackermann, ever the aspiring physician, checked for a pulse and heartbeat. Schweiger was dead. Ackermann reacted to this discovery not with remorse or panic, but with eager delight: Finally he could satisfy his curiosity about the inner workings of the human body.

In an interview later, Ackermann would describe this as his greatest wish: to see what we look like inside. He has stressed that he knew this would not hurt Schweiger and would provide him his own deepest joy.

Ackermann used a razor-sharp butterfly knife to slice Schweiger from groin to throat, opening his abdomen, and to cut away the top of his skull. He reached into the corpse's abdomen to explore the wet mysteries of the body and to feel Schweiger's internal organs. With a butcher knife he cut out his intestines. Then he removed his brain, and placed it on a plate.

Ackermann would later try to claim that he did not eat Schweiger, and that he merely tasted some of his blood to see what it was likea scientific experiment, if you will. On August 28, the second day after the fight, he called the homeless hostel's cleaning woman into the apartment and showed her the body. He suggested she call the police. When the police arrived at the blood-soaked first-floor apartment, a dispassionate Ackerman told them to look at what had happened, as if it were an inexplicable, random event in which he'd had no part. He even initially tried to blame the grisly scene on the apartment's mice. Evidence quickly exonerated the rodent population and implicated the troubled teen.

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