Cannibalism is one of the freakiest crimes anyone can commit: aside from the difficulty of procuring human flesh without adding “corpse mutilation” to your list of charges, it’s just balls-out gross. Even in cases where it was’t done on purpose, it’s still just as horrifying.
That’s right, there have actually been cases where people woke up not planning to eat human, but ended up doing so anyhow. Whether it was a simple (and disgusting) accident, murderers pretending human flesh was that of an animal’s and selling it to unknowing customers, or sick bastards getting their kicks from making victims eat their own body parts, cannibalism is nevere anything but complete awful.
10. The Man Who Ate His Own Beard
OK, before this list descends into screaming horror, let’s start with a moderately amusing one. Meet Harvey Westmoreland, a man known across the Internet for having the misfortune to be fed his own beard. Yum yum. Apparently, sometime in 2010, Kentucky-based Harvey and his brother went over to meet his brother’s boss. Because some people evidently aspire to be stereotypes, the group started drinking heavily, before getting involved in an altercation over Harvey’s lawnmower. One thing led to another and, before you know it, Harvey was pushed to the ground and force-fed his own facial hair at knifepoint. Because what else you gonna do all day in Kentucky?
9. The Irishman Forced to Eat His Own Ear
Significantly less light-hearted than the tale of Harvey Beard-eater is this 2011 story from Ireland, about an unnamed man who was force-fed his own ear. Details are sketchy as the man in question (understandably) refused to describe the attack to the press. From what we can gather though, a drunken gang of assholes grabbed this random passer-by and proceeded to go medieval on his ass – purely because they could. What followed was a spectacle of torture that wouldn’t look out of place in an Eli Roth movie: the guy was dragged down a lane, hit with a hammer and metal bar, knifed, kneecapped, and then forced to eat his own severed ear. What’s particularly grim about this story is that the guy in question was just some homeless dude; completely unknown to the men who almost killed him.
8. The Fast Food Finger
Unlike most on this list, the story of David Scheiding involves no crazy drunk psychopaths or casual barbarity. What it does involve, however, is a piece of bad luck that will make you think twice before ever ordering fast food again. In 2005, Scheiding popped into his local Arbys for a snack. Unbeknownst to him, the manager had earlier that afternoon sliced the front of his thumb off while cutting lettuce. Although he washed and sanitized the area, the poor guy was unable to locate his missing bit of thumb.
You can probably guess where it ended up. Just as Scheiding bit into his sandwich, he discovered the manager’s missing thumb tip. Unsurprisingly, given that he had human flesh dangling between his teeth, he spent the rest of the afternoon throwing up, in the probably-vain attempt to get every trace of human flesh out of his system. Too late.
7. The Blood Countess
A sixteenth century Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory has the twin distinction of being one of the most prolific, and most demented, female serial killers who ever lived. For decades, she lived alone in Cachtice Castle, where she tortured and murdered somewhere between 35 and 650 young girls – allegedly eating their flesh and bathing in their blood.
But that isn’t even the worst part: the worst part is that she is allegedly forced her victims to eat their own flesh as part of the whole sadistic torture/murder process she had going on. Now, it’s important to note that these accusations were likely inflated due to political infighting, and most of them weren’t even recorded until a century after her death. However, if even two percent of what we know about the Blood Countess is true, then self-cannibalism was probably the least of her victims’ worries.
6. The Human Kebab, Part I
The urban myth about the dodgy fast food shop secretly selling dog/cat/rat flesh has been around for as long as human beings have craved fast food. And guess what? Not only is it not a myth, but the reality is a whole lot more horrifying than anything your twisted little brother could ever make up.
In 2003, a 14-year-old girl named Charlene Downes went missing in Blackpool, England. Her body was never found, but the fast food shop owner who almost certainly murdered her was overheard “joking” that she’d been chopped up and used for kebab meat. Thanks to police incompetence, nobody has been convicted of doing anything to the girl. So, there’s a slim chance she was not eaten and digested by several random strangers who thought they were eating the same old beef they always did. But if it is true, then everybody who lived in Blackpool back then might want to invest in some hardcore therapy. Just in case.
5. The Human Kebab, Part II
The fate of kebab-fanciers in the Russian town of Perm is unfortunately less ambivalent than over in Blackpool. In 2010, three homeless men were sentenced to jail for killing and eating a man, and then selling his body parts to a kebab van as meat. All of this has been established in court, and is beyond doubt. And now for the truly disturbing bit: when police searched the kebab van in question, they found no traces of human meat. In other words, it had already been cooked and sold to unwitting, hungry commuters just looking for a snack. Good luck not obsessively thinking about that next time order takeout.
4. The Cannibal Cult Mother
Brace yourselves; from here on in, things are gonna get pretty grim. The story of Klara Mauerova is nothing short of nightmare fuel. A member of the weird-ass Grail Movement cult, the Czech mother did stuff to her own kids which most of us wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. Without going into too much detail (you can read it here if you’re really interested), it involved imprisonment, sadistic torture, beatings and, of course, forced cannibalism. The story goes that one of the abused kids was chained up in the cellar, where Klara Mauerova and her family routinely descended to remove parts of his skin and feed them to him. Why? To completely indoctrinate the children into her creepy cult, part of which apparently involved an unknown man sending her text messages to direct the abuse.
That feeling in your stomach? That’s your body trying to vomit up your soul.
3. The Lynching of Claude Neal
There is nothing remotely uplifting about Claude Neal’s story. A black farmworker in 1930’s Florida, he allegedly raped and killed a young woman one afternoon, leaving her with her head bashed in underneath a tree. Whether he did or did not, the victim – Lola Cannady – was white, so real justice was never going to be in the cards.
On Oct. 26th, a mob stormed the jail where Neal was being held, and dragged him off into the hot Florida night. What happened next would change American attitudes to lynching forever. Neal was taken to a remote part of Jackson County, chained to a tree, and tortured for several hours. During this time, his captors cut off his genitals, forced him to eat them, and made him say they tasted good. Eventually, Neal was shot, dragged into town, and lynched in front of a group of nearly a thousand celebrating rednecks – but nothing in his ordeal could compare to the cannibal torture he underwent before dying.
The case was so gruesome, in fact, it effectively put a halt to lynchings. Not even the most soulless racist could read about Neal’s final hours and feel anything but pity.
2. The Real Room 101
Anyone who watches the news knows that modern-day Syria is a dark place to be. Without getting into the politics of it, a civil war is raging that has seen war crimes committed on both sides – ranging from old-fashioned massacres to the eating of a dead soldier’s heart.
But perhaps nothing compares with the doings of the Syrian Intelligence Agency in its infamous torture centers. Alongside the usual beatings and electrocutions, human rights agencies are reporting accounts of forced cannibalism, including the common practice of getting victims to lick up their own blood from the torture chamber floor. Worst of all, however, are the stories about fingernails. Put simply, the security forces are said to pull victims’ fingernails out with pliers then force them to eat them. We could go on, but we really don’t want to.
Yet utterly, disgustingly foul as this is, it’s still got nothing on …
1. The Women Forced to Eat Their Noses
We’ve all heard of Joseph Kony, the unwitting star of the viral video “Kony 2012.” In broadest possible terms, he’s a monster: a Ugandan war criminal who kidnaps children, sending them into battle (or at least did; nobody’s seen or heard from the man since 2006.) Well, his story is about to get a whole lot more depressing:
In the early 2000’s, a woman simply referred to as Laweel was one of several women kidnapped by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army and forced to work as sex slaves. Then one day, Kony decided to send 10 of them back home to their communities with the warning, “don’t fight the LRA.” However, the women were to be sent back mutilated, in order to make the message crystal-clear to all. Under Kony’s orders, a group of children cut off Laweel’s nose, lips and ears, before making her eat them at gunpoint.
And with that, we’re tapping out. If there are any cases of forced cannibalism more disturbing than these, we really don’t want to know about them.
Morris M. is a freelance writer. You can send your helpful (and less-than-helpful) comments to [email protected]