The Top 5 Craziest Stories of Cannibalism

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In some ancient societies it was solemn ritual, in other cultures it was a grim celebration of victory in combat. Some have turned to it when nothing else could save their lives; a few have practiced it due to a creeping darkness within themselves. For most of us, though, the topic of cannibalism is purely academic, and that’s just the way we like it. Let’s do our best to have fun with this decidedly not-fun topic as we talk about five crazy accounts of cannibalism we’re glad we are reading about rather than experiencing!

5 The Life of Jeffrey Dahmer

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During Jeffrey Dahmer’s short life (he was killed in prison at age 34 in 1994), he managed to become one of modern history’s most famous monsters. Dahmer not only murdered at least 17 people, he also dismembered many of his victims and ate the flesh of several. His “career” as a serial killer lasted from 1978 until his final arrest in 1991. He had been taken into custody several times during the intervening years, but always for charges related to alcohol and/or lewd behavior. Had his home been searched several years earlier, police would have found all the grisly evidence they needed to put him away forever. Donner frequently kept “trophies” of his most prized victims.

4 The Starving Time at Jamestown, VA

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The winter of 1609-1610 was a time of horror for the colony of Jamestown, Virginia. More than 80 percent of the colonists died of starvation, cold and disease. By the time spring came to Jamestown, only 60 people were still alive, and many had survived only by consuming human flesh to sustain themselves. While one can’t judge a person turning to such extremes in the name of survival, one fact casts this story in a much harsher light: Modern forensics have proved that at least one victim was likely poisoned to death.

3 The Boyd Massacre

The whipping of one young man set off a chain of events that would see well more than 100 people killed, many of them in the most brutal of ways. The year was 1809, and the British had begun exploring New Zealand and interacting with the Maori natives just a few short decades earlier. Clearly there was still much to be learned between the two cultures: As reprisal for a few minor offenses, a young Maori chieftain named Tara was whipped aboard a ship called Boyd. A few days later, a group of Maori warriors murdered a small party of Englishman who had come ashore, then stormed the Boyd and killed between 60 and 70 Brits, many of whom were eaten in an act of supreme dominance. Soon after this horrific event, a different group of Brits attacked a totally innocent Maori tribe, murdering dozens of them in senseless retribution.

2 The Donner Party

In one of the saddest chapters of America’s fabled Pioneer Days, a wagon train heading west on the California Trail was trapped for months in the snowy Sierra Nevada Mountains. Three dozen people died of hunger and cold. Of those that survived the ill-fated journey, many first ate their livestock, then their pets and then they resorted to cannibalism. Sadly, the Donner Party’s tragedy resulted from a misguided search for a shortcut to the Sacramento Valley. Had they followed a more established route, the wagon train would likely have reached its destination without incident.

1 Armin Meiwes

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One of the most gruesome, strangest incidents of cannibalism on record occurred in Germany in 2001. Perhaps the strangest aspect of the affair was that both victim and cannibal were totally complicit; in fact, the victim even tried to eat some of his own flesh before finally expiring! A 40-year-old German named Armin Meiwes placed ads on the web soliciting a victim to be killed and eaten. Amazingly, a young man named Bernd Brandes responded. In a fully consensual act of atrocity, Brandes allowed himself to be murdered, fully expecting his killer to eat him. Which Meiwes did over the course of the next year. When Meiwes placed more ads online in 2002, evidently fresh out of human flesh, the police were made aware of it and soon learned of the ghastly act.

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