Last Updated on November 13, 2022 by Ben Oakley
In the animal kingdom, real-life cannibals run wild. It’s common to see signs of cannibalism among various species – including human!
Cannibals are not mythological beings confined to the silver screen, they exist in the real world, forever tainting society with their animalistic nature.
Here are six frightening real-life cannibals to put you off your dinner and make you reconsider the world we find ourselves inhabiting.
1. Hadden Irving Clark: The Cross-Dressing Cannibal
Hadden was known to have killed two people, one child and one adult, and would have no doubt become a serial killer if he hadn’t been caught. Unbelievably, his brother, Bradfield, was convicted many years earlier of killing and eating his girlfriend. Cannibalism certainly runs in this family.
Growing up, Hadden killed the neighbourhood’s pets and left their heads on their owner’s doorsteps. He dressed as a woman to steal purses from churches and residential homes. In Maryland, on 31st May 1986, he killed six-year-old Michelle Dorr, a friend of his niece.
After attempting to rape her, he stabbed her in the throat then drank her blood and consumed some of her flesh, before burying her in a remote park. Six years later, on 18th October 1992, he killed Harvard Graduate Laura Houghteling and buried her in a nearby woods.
A fingerprint left on Laura’s pillow led to Hadden’s arrest. He was sentenced to a total of 60 years in prison across two trials. “I think I have a split personality. I don’t like to hurt people, but I do things I am not aware of.” – Hadden Irving Clark.
Read the full story in Bizarre True Crime Volume 2.
2. Katherine Knight
If Cannibal killers are rare, female cannibals are even rarer – with exception to historical cannibal tribes. One such female cannibal is Australian abattoir worker Katherine Knight, who stabbed her boyfriend to death on 29th February 2000, in Queensland.
She then skinned him, put his skin on a meat hook, and cooked his head and other parts to feed to his children without their knowledge. She placed his head in a large pot on her stove and boiled it along with a variety of vegetables, then served it.
Knight was so callous that she created place mats out of cardboard and wrote a little message to John’s son and youngest daughter before setting a place for them. When officers attended the property at the behest of John’s co-workers, they found a curtain hanging on the other side of the front door.
Except, it was no curtain, it was John’s skin hanging from the ceiling. They found the rest of John’s body had been thrown into the yard for the dogs. In 2001, Katherine was the first woman in Australian history to be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Read the full story in Bizarre True Crime Volume 6.
3. Swift Runner: The Wendigo Cannibal
A Cree Indian named Swift Runner became possessed by the spirit of the mythical Wendigo then killed and cannibalised his entire family, in the most famous case of Wendigo Psychosis. The Wendigo is a malevolent spirit that can possess human beings, and usually takes the form of a creature with human characteristics. It turns people into real-life cannibals.
During the cold Winter of 1878 to 1879, after his eldest son had died of starvation, Swift became consumed with grief and hunger and systematically murdered his wife and five remaining children. He then proceeded to chop up, cook, and eat them, piece by piece.
When he returned alone to Fort Saskatchewan in early 1879, relatives of the family became concerned, and an investigation began. The bones and partial remains of Swift’s family were found at his winter camp, leading to his arrest.
Swift believed that the spirit of a Wendigo called on him to consume the people around him. Before killing his children, he ordered them to cook and eat their mother. On 20th December 1879, Swift was led to the gallows and hung by his neck. His last words were, ‘I am no longer a man.’
Related: 4 Shocking Real-Life Vampire Stories.
4. Antron Singleton: Cannibal Rapper
On the night of 10th April 2002, Alisa Allen went to visit her friend, 21-year-old mother of two Tynisha Ysais, in southeast Los Angeles. She found Tynisha’s roommate, 24-year-old rapper Antron Singleton, standing completely naked in the middle of the street covered in blood, with a blank expression staring upwards towards the night sky.
She rushed past him and into the apartment, where she discovered a scene out of a horror movie. The mutilated body of Tynisha was on the floor, with her chest ripped open and her organs outside her body. When police arrived, Alisa was still screaming.
A medical examination of Tynisha’s body discovered a knife embedded in her shoulder which had been used to cut her chest. Antron had then ripped her chest open, removed most of her organs and then chewed on her lungs. He then proceeded to chew off and consume most of her face.
Antron had no memory of the attack as he was high on the mind-altering drug PCP (phenyl cyclohexyl piperidine), sometimes known as Angel Dust. In 2003, despite a plea of insanity, Antron was sentenced to life imprisonment for first-degree murder. He was later moved to a psychiatric hospital indefinitely.
Read the full story in Bizarre True Crime Volume 7.
FACT: In an unrelated case, a father got high on PCP and attempted to eat his son’s eyeballs.
5. Anthony Morley
In May 2008, in Leeds, England, Morley, a former gay model stumbled into a kebab house at 2.30am, wearing a blood-drenched gown. He claimed a man had attempted to rape him, so he defended himself by stabbing and killing the man. But when police arrived at Morley’s apartment, they found the truth to be even more horrifying.
In 1993, Morley won the first Mr Gay UK competition, and went on to have some modelling success. He appeared on TV shows and was often pictured with well-known people. In 1996, he met his eventual victim, Damian Oldfield on a TV game show called God’s Gift, when he chose Damian as a date.
But Morley was constantly confused about his sexuality and couldn’t decide if he was straight or gay. 12 years later, Damian met up with Morley and went back to his flat, where around midnight, he was brutally murdered. Morley cut his throat and stabbed him 30 times. He then dismembered parts of the body and sliced off pieces of flesh.
A forensic investigation discovered slices of cooked flesh on the chopping board, mixed with herbs and olive oil. Morley had eaten some of the flesh and chewed on other bits, the remnants of which were found in his kitchen bin. In October 2008 at Leeds Crown Court, Morley was sentenced to life with a minimum tariff of 30 years. He remains one of the UK’s few real-life cannibals.
6. Albert Fish
Perhaps the most infamous of historical real-life cannibals, Fish was an American serial killer and rapist who was active between 1890 and 1932. Some of the other name’s attributed to him were the Gray Man, Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire and the Boogey Man.
In 1890, at the age of 20, Fish moved to New York, where he began raping and attacking young boys under the age of 10. He was already a disturbed man and was known to eat faeces and drink urine as a child and teenager. In 1910, he took a teenager to a barn, tied him up and tortured him, cutting of his penis and leaving him with his wounds.
From around 1919, he began attacking and killing young boys. His victims of choice were disabled boys or boys of colour, believing they wouldn’t be missed. On 28th May 1928, he lured 10-year-old Grace Budd away from her home in New York. He took her to an abandoned house, killed her, then ate her body. Six years later, in 1934, a letter was sent to the Budd family. A small section of the letter is below.
‘First, I stripped her naked. How she did kick – bite and scratch. I choked her to death then cut her in small pieces so I could take my meat to my rooms, cook, and eat it. How sweet and tender her little ass was roasted in the oven. It took me 9 days to eat her entire body. I did not fuck her, though, I could have had I wished. She died a virgin.’
An investigation into the letter led to Fish’s arrest in December 1934. He admitted to Budd’s murder, and others. He was found guilty of three murders and suspected of at least another five. Fish was sentenced to death and executed in the electric chair on 16th January 1936. As far as real-life cannibals go, Albert Fish was one of the worst.
Prolific Multi-Genre Author | True Crime Anthologist | Real-Life Writing Machine #writetheplanet #stillthewaves
I really enjoy reading your short clips about the crimes committed. I like the books you write too.
I’m honoured. Thank you and stay safe.