Within the field of psychology there is a debate on what factors lead a person to practice criminal cannibalism. Some evidence suggests that cannibalism is a result of trauma experienced in childhood. It has been called a “psychological response to anger and frustration” expressed through oral aggression and an urge to literally absorb a person through consumption. In reality, people who kill and eat others are mentally unstable and dangerous predators. These types of individuals are rare and many countries have never seen a serial human cannibal. The life of a cannibal encompasses some of the worst and most sadistic examples of human capability.
This article will examine twenty people who were caught in the act of eating or having just consumed a human victim. It was organized specifically by country, with one person chosen from each area of the world. However, it has two Russians and two Germans, as I could find eighteen countries with documented cases of criminal cannibalism. The article is a sequel to a list posted on December 18, 2008, which covers the Top 10 Cases of Human Cannibalism. For that reason, it will not include any people mentioned in that article, most notably Albert Fish, Andrei Chikatilo, Armin Meiwes, Issei Sagawa, and Jeffrey Dahmer.
On several occasions, Li went back to the body, severed parts, and consumed some of McLean’s flesh. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) responded to the call and found the suspect still on board the bus. The other passengers were huddled at the roadside, some of them crying and vomiting. Witnesses continually observed the suspect stabbing and cutting McLean’s body, and carrying McLean’s severed head. Five hours after the murder, the suspect attempted to escape from the bus by breaking through a window.
Vince Weiguang Li was tazed twice, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a police cruiser. Inside of his pockets, the police found parts of the victim’s body. This included McLean’s ears, nose, and tongue. The victim’s eyes and part of his heart were never recovered and are presumed to have been eaten by Li. Vince Weiguang Li’s trial started on March 3, 2009 and he plead not criminally responsible due to insanity. He was remanded to a high-security mental health facility where he remains to this day.
After officers rushed the scene, Curko pulled out a gun, so a sniper shot him five times. Curko later died in the hospital. After a search of his home, police found a large collection of human body parts in his “fridge of horrors.” Curko kept the body parts of his victims for later consumption. Inside the fridge, police found the remains of two Slovakian women who disappeared in 2010. The women are thought to have volunteered themselves for murder and cannibalization. Police are now attempting to link Matej Curko to the disappearance of thirty Italian women between January 2009 and May 2011. The case shocked people in Slovakia and made us all wonder how a seemingly ordinary man could carry out such violent acts.
However, in early 2004, Bryan was transferred to an open psychiatric ward at Newham General Hospital after allegations that he had indecently assaulted a 16-year-old girl. In February 2004, he walked out of the mental health unit in Newham, east London and cannibalized his friend Brian Cherry. Cherry was killed by at least 24 hammer blows to the head. On the night in question, one of Cherry’s friends Nicola Newman let herself into his flat around 7.15pm and noticed a strong smell of disinfectant. Peter Bryan then emerged from the kitchen bare-chested, holding a knife, and announced: “Brian is dead.” She didn’t believe him at first until she saw Cherry’s body with his arms and legs separated.
The police arrived to find Peter Bryan standing in the hallway in the dark with bloodstained hands, jeans, and shoes. In the kitchen officers noticed a small amount of human flesh in a frying pan next to an open tub of Clover butter. The meat was part of Brian Cherry’s brain. The police also found brain tissue and hair matted with blood on a plate next to a knife and fork on the draining board. Peter Bryan told officers he had killed Mr. Cherry and “I ate his brain with butter, it was really nice.” He later added: “I would have done someone else if you hadn’t come along. I wanted their souls.”
While at Pentonville jail, Bryan told a member of the staff that he wanted to eat someone’s nose and prison officers had to use riot shields when unlocking his cell in case of attack. Despite the danger, doctors believed that Peter Bryan, who had a long history of brutal violence and deception, should be transferred to a medium risk ward. He was moved to Broadmoor Hospital, where he killed his third victim, a fellow patient, Richard Loudwell, aged 60. Bryan battered Loudwell and tied a ligature around his neck. Mr. Loudwell died in the hospital later that day. Peter Bryan said that if he had not been interrupted he would have eaten Loudwell’s flesh.
On March 15, 2005, Peter Bryan pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to two counts of manslaughters on the grounds of diminished responsibility. Judge Giles Forrester said: “You killed on these last two occasions because it gave you a thrill and a feeling of power when you ate flesh.” Bryan, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, will never be released from jail.
The police found the body of Marion Kettner dismembered in Kroll’s house. Some of her parts were in the fridge, and Kroll was in the process of cooking a small hand on the stove. The entrails of the girl were found stuck in the waste-pipe. Kroll was immediately arrested and he confessed to thirteen murders. He was labeled the Ruhr Cannibal, Ruhr Hunter, and the Duisburg Man-Eater by the German media. At his trial, Kroll said that he often sliced portions of the flesh from his victims to save money on his grocery bills. In 1982, Joachim Kroll was convicted of mass murder and sentenced to life in prison. He died of a heart attack in 1991, in Rheinbach.
He then abandoned the corpse at the Mamak Dump and put the human flesh in his refrigerator. Upon returning to the apartment, Dengiz gave a piece of human flesh to a group of stray dogs. He was eventually caught after the police traced him to a series of calls made with one of the victim’s mobile phones. The police quickly searched Dangiz’s apartment and discovered a collection of fresh human meat in the refrigerator.
Özgür Dengiz was arrested, but showed no remorse for his crimes, saying he was irresistibly drawn to eating human flesh. He is quoted: “I love to eat human flesh. It makes me ecstatic. We are fools to have been eating beef for so long.” The only emotion he displayed during his confession was periodic fits of laughter. After making his statement, Dengiz was sent to prison, but I can’t find information on his official sentence or current whereabouts. His crimes caused public outcry in Turkey, where cannibalism is a strong cultural taboo. A Turkish Cypriot journalist said: “Dengiz appears to be Turkey’s first man-eater and perhaps one of its few psychopaths.” However, Turkish serial killer Adnan Çolak is also known to have cannibalized a victim. In the media, Çolak was known as the “Artvin Monster,” while Dengiz the “Cannibal of Ankara.”
In 2005, it was revealed that John Bunting and Robert Wagner cannibalized the remains of one of their victims, a man named David Johnson. During a confidential police interview with accomplice James Vlassakis, he said: “They hacked at David Johnson’s body to make sure it would fit in the barrel and then hacked a little bit more, taking a sliver of flesh from the right thigh. There was no remorse. No second thoughts. They heated a frying pan, cooked the flesh, and ate it.”
There have been more than 230 suppression orders in the case and the Australian government is extremely reluctant to release any information about the cannibalism. The occurrence remains one of the few occurrences of criminal cannibalism in the history of Australia. John Bunting and Robert Wagner are currently serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. In 2010, federal legislation prohibited capital punishment in all Australian states and territories.
Alexander Spesivtsev was captured in 1996 after a pipe broke near his home and forced neighbors to call a plumber. The problem was determined to be coming from Spesivtsev apartment. When nobody answered his door, the suspicious plumber opened it by force. He saw blood covering the walls and called the police. In his kitchen police discovered bowls with pieces of human flesh. In the bathtub they found a mutilated, headless body. A woman was found mutilated, but still alive on the sofa. She was taken to a hospital, where she was able to tell the public prosecutor about what had happened, but died seventeen hours later.
In the house, police discovered a diary which detailed the murder of nineteen girls, but Spesivtsev is generally suspected of having killed 80 people (because 80 different pieces of bloody clothing were found). On October 5, 1999, Spesivtsev was ruled insane by a Russian court and committed to a psychiatric hospital. He remains at the psychiatric hospital to this day. Lyudmila Spesivtsev denied any involvement in the murders, but was convicted as an accomplice and given thirteen years in prison. The case remains one of the worst examples of human cannibalism in Russian history.