Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Cannibal Celebrity: Issei Sagawa

Lust for Flesh, Part I

An exhaustive list is beyond the scope of this article, but in alphabetical order, some of the outstanding examples of people who killed and then devoured others (as opposed to cannibalizing already-dead corpses) include:

Nathaniel Bar-Jonah: Recently, Bar-Jonah, 45, was charged in Montana with killing a 10-year-old boy, Zachary Ramsey, cutting him up, and using the body parts for stews. He had a history of sexual offenses against young boys, as well as hanging one from a kitchen ceiling, and he kept hundreds of photographs of children in his apartment. When he was arrested, he was impersonating a police officer outside an elementary school, and he was carrying a stun gun and pepper spray.

Police photo of Andrei Chikatilo
Police photo of Andrei Chikatilo

Andrei Chikatilo: For 12 years, this older man preyed on children in Russia, and while he confessed to as many as 52 murder-mutilations, it's believed that he committed many more. To some extent, what he did might have been influenced by tales his mother told about how his older brother had been cannibalized by Russian peasants driven insane by hunger, because he devoured parts of his victims in that kind of savage manner. After luring them away from train or bus stations into the woods, he would stab them, stuff their mouths with mud, rip at them with his bare hands, and chew off their genitals. He also gouged out their eyes or bit off their tongues, and he often carried their organs away with him. At his trial he was placed in a steel cage for his own protection, which made him look even more like a savage beast. The judge sentenced him to death and he was executed in 1994.

Jeffrey Dahmer
Jeffrey Dahmer

Jeffrey Dahmer: Found in Dahmer's apartment when he was arrested in 1991were skulls stripped of flesh and whole torsos dismembered and soaking in acid. He claimed he was making an altar of the skulls and bones of his victims, and parts of those whom he had liked he also consumed.  There were blood-stained soup kettles to indicate that this could be true, and Dahmer had also stored internal organs and heads in his refrigerator and freezer. The remains of eleven different men were found inside the apartment, and he later confessed to six more.  He was sentenced to life but was killed in prison.

Karl Denke: He was arrested in 1924 for multiple murder in Poland. He had the pickled remains of many of his victims in the kitchen and basement of his inn, and apparently he'd eaten parts from as many as 31 people. After one of his lodgers escaped his axe attack and told another who had done it, Denke was arrested. He claimed that for over three years, human flesh had been his sole source of meat. His victims were mostly beggars and journeymen. He never explained his motives and ended up hanging himself in his cell.


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