All the most horrifying cannibal killers you need to know about
Cannibals. Just the mere mention of the word makes your stomach churn and calls forth images of Hannibal Lecter, fava beans, and a nice chianti. Yet, despite our hopes to the contrary, cannibalism is something that still happens.
Not as much as it has in the past. We’re not having a Donner Party situation in the 21st century, but, yeah, cannibalistic killers are their own special subcategory in true crime.
If you can’t stomach a full-length article about cannibal killers like Peter Bryan, then here is something a little more, pardon the pun, bite-sized on some terrifying cannibal killers. Here’s several humans who have tasted human flesh.
In Nov. 1991, Egyptian model Omaima Nelson killed her husband Bill, who she alleges sexually assaulted her throughout their month-long marriage. She stabbed him with scissors and beat him to death with a clothes iron.
Following this, Nelson started to dismember his body. She cooked his head and boiled his hands to make identification difficult. She also mixed up dismembered body parts with Thanksgiving leftovers and ran it through the garbage disposal. Nelson would later say that she also castrated Bill and cooked his ribs with barbeque sauce to eat.
Currently, Nelson is serving 27 years to life in prison. She’s been up for parole in 2006 and 2011, but has been denied both times. Nelson’s next parole hearing is set for 2026.
Issei Sagawa was a Japanese man living in France in 1981 where he was pursuing a Ph.D. in literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. For years, Sagawa had cannibalistic urges such as when he was 24 and planned on killing and eating a German woman in Tokyo. He was arrested for the crime of attempted rape and did not confess his cannibalistic urges to police.
While at the Sorbonne, Sagawa met Renée Hartevelt, who was a classmate of his. He invited Hartevelt over for dinner. He shot her, had sex with her corpse, and spent three days cannibalizing her body. Sagawa claimed that he wanted to absorb her health and beauty, which he felt that he lacked. Sagawa was caught when he attempted to dump her body parts by French police.
French authorities would drop the charges against Sagawa after two years, deporting him back to Japan. Due to the charges being dropped, however, the court documents could not be released to Japan from France. So Japanese authorities had to release Sagawa and could not legally confine him to a mental asylum. He remains free to this day.
Weird and violent things can happen on a lot of public transportation, but this takes the cake. While riding a Greyhound Canada bus in 2008, Vince Li stabbed, beheaded, and cannibalized 22-year-old Tim McLean. Li did this in front of the other passengers on the bus.
Li pleaded insanity to the judge, who accepted it after a psychiatrist said that Li killed McLean because God told him to. Li was deemed “not responsible” for the killing and remanded to mental health authorities. In 2017, after years of treatment, Li changed his name and was granted discharge to live independently.
Katherine Mary Knight
In Feb. 2000, Katherine Knight killed her on and off again boyfriend, John Price. The two had been dating for years. Despite Knight having a violent reputation, the pair were reportedly happy. . . for a while. Things went off the rails to the point where Price had to take out a restraining order and told people that if anything happened to him then Katherine Knight did it.
Knight stabbed Price 37 times. She then skinned him, cooked his body parts up, and planned to serve him to their children complete with name cards beside each plate. Luckily, however, this dinner didn’t happen. Neighbors grew concerned and phoned the police. Knight was arrested and would become the first woman sentenced to life without parole in Australia’s history.
We’re going way back for this one, but his legacy is definitely an odd one, to say the least. In the winter of 1874, Packer and five others attempted to travel through the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. Packer returned alone, saying he was abandoned by his party. Eventually, however, he confessed that when party members started to die after becoming hopelessly lost, they turned to cannibalism. Packer was the only one to survive.
He would recant this confession saying that it was he alone who ate the bodies. That his party member Shannon Bell killed the others and that he killed Shannon. He ate them until he could trek out nearly two months later. The story was called into question and Packer would escape jail, hideout for nine years, and then was recaptured. He was originally sentenced to death, but won a retrial and was sentenced to 40 years in prison instead.
A dining hall at the University of Colorado Boulder has been named after Packard. Trey Stone of South Park fame wrote a musical about him, Cannibal! The Musical.
If you’re a massive true crime buff, do sign up for our newsletter. We promise only to send you the most relevant news, contests, quizzes, and polls.