French police fatally shot a 32-year-old man suspected of cannibalism on Monday morning (July 19) following the discovery of the decapitated corpse and partially consumed head of a 13-year-old boy.
Police found the remains on Sunday in an apartment in the southern France town of Tarascon, a town between Avignon and Arles.
Public prosecutor Laurent Gumbau told Agence France-Presse that strips of flesh had been ripped from a shoulder, sparking suspicions of cannibalism.
“The body found may be that of the minor… However, it was impossible at the current time to confirm the hypothesis of anthropophagy (cannibalism).”
The boy disappeared on his way from his foster home in Marseille, about 60 miles away, to see his mother in Tarascon.
Late Sunday night, a neighbour called police and reported seeing a body in a garbage bag. A man, who had previous convictions for acts of violence, fled from his apartment when police arrived by jumping over rooftops, neighbours told the news outlet. Three hours later police found the man and shot him dead, the prosecutor said, adding that the suspect did not appear to have been armed at the time of his death, and had not been formally identified as the killer.
In his apartment, the Bouches-du-Rhône police discovered a dead body in the kitchen, but its right arm and head were missing. The head was later found in a bucket in the bathroom and, according to Le Figaro, had been partially eaten. Satanic cult objects were also found in the home.
Homicide has been with us since the first apeman lifted a bone to beat a rival to death (or actually well before that, using teeth and claws). It is likely that the victor in those early spats would have been loath to waste the resulting meaty corpse.
Accounts of cannibalism still seem to focus on the primitive, the ‘savage’ cannibals eating the unwary missionary who stumbles upon their village, even though there is little evidence that such events ever happened. But in recent years, cannibalism has increasingly been found within our ‘civilised’ cities and towns. 2020 was a big year for cannibalism. So far in 2021, we have had THE OKLAHOMA CANNIBAL in the US and the MEXICAN CANNIBAL who allegedly killed and ate some thirty women. In South Africa at the moment, deadly rioting has led to food shortages that, according to one community leader, has led people to consider cannibalism. Then we have the whole Armie Hammer uproar. These cases, like the one in France, are usually put down to psychotic deviance, the psychological equivalent of a mystified shrug. But economics and politics play their parts too, as does a loss of respect – treating humans as animals (which of course we are) emanates from treating animals as morally valueless, as mere commodities.
Could it be that a toxic mixture of urban loneliness and rampant consumerism, particularly of animal bodies, together with the stripping of humans of their formerly assumed metaphysical superiority to other animals, is leading the murderer to the same conclusion chosen by our pre-sapien ancestors: why waste the meat?
Jindu told the court, in gruesome detail, how he had eaten the men’s livers raw, and cooked and eaten their brains.
The court had heard that Jindu was mentally incapacitated, but a medical examination presented in court declared him fit to stand trial. During the trial, Jindu stated that he was sent by the devil to kill the two men, and threatened to unleash Lucifer onto prosecutors.
Jindu requested assisted suicide after the decision was handed down, but has now changed his mind, and is seeking acquittal on the grounds of mental incapacity. His appeal states in part:
“There was cogent evidence that appellant was mentally incapacitated to appreciate the implications of his actions at the material time of committing the offence. Wherefore, appellants prays that the appeal be and is hereby allowed”
There’s a thorough analysis of the cases on the Amanda and Banele vodcast, at the top of this blog.
No longer a monster or ‘savage’, the contemporary cannibal is hard to tell from anyone else in a suit and tie.
On Friday, 18 June 2021, a Swiss court sentenced 46-year-old Alieu Kosiah, a West African rebel leader, to 20 years in prison for rape, murder and cannibalism, committed during Liberia’s civil war. The case before a three-judge panel at the federal criminal court in Bellinzona was Switzerland’s first war crimes trial held in a civilian court.
Kosiah, AKA “bluff boy”, was a commander in the rebel faction United Liberation Movement of Liberiafor Democracy (ULIMO) that fought former President Charles Taylor’s army in the 1990s. He faced 25 charges, including one in which he was accused of eating slices of a school-teacher’s heart. He was found guilty of all but four of the charges. The court listed the charges as
“recruitment and use of a child soldier, forced transportation, looting, cruel treatment of civilians, attempted murder, murder (directly or by order), desecration of a corpse and rape.”
Criminal complaints were filed by Liberian victims, represented by civil rights group Civitas Maxima. The indictment says Kosiah killed or participated in the killing of 18 civilians, forced a displaced woman to be his “wife”, raping her repeatedly, and recruited a 12-year-old boy as his personal bodyguard. In one incident described in the indictment, Kosiah joined fighters in eating slices of a dead man’s heart off a metal plate. Acts of cannibalism were not uncommon in the conflict.
Kosiah was arrested in 2014 under a Swiss law that allows prosecution for serious crimes committed anywhere, under the principle of universal jurisdiction. He had denied all the charges and told the court he was a minor when first recruited into the conflict.
Dubbed “the Monster” by survivors of the war, Kosiah is infamously remembered for the Black Monday attack on June 28, 1993 when rebels rounded up and massacred villagers in Foya, Lofa County.
Other Liberian war criminals
Liberia has ignored pressure to prosecute crimes from its continuous wars between 1989-2003, in which about 250,000 people died and thousands of child soldiers were conscripted and taught to kill and commit atrocities. Charles Taylor is himself currently serving a 50-year prison sentence for aiding and abetting rebels who committed atrocities in neighbouring Sierra Leone, but not for his actions in Liberia. His son, Chuckie, was sentenced for torture in Liberia by a U.S. court in 2009.
Ex-warlord Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah” Jabateh has been jailed for 30 years in the US for lying about his past as a leader of a force that carried out multiple murders and acts of cannibalism.
In July 2018, France detained naturalised Dutch citizen Kunti K, a suspected former militant ULIMO commander and placed him under formal investigation for crimes against humanity including torture and cannibalism. Another Liberian commander, Gibril Massaquoi, known as “Angel Gabriel” is on trial in Finland accused of eating his victims, burning kids alive and raping women. A verdict is expected around September this year.
An ULIMO commander named Joshua Milton Blahyi known as “General Butt Naked” gave evidence to Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2008:
“Any time we captured a town, I had to make a human sacrifice. They bring to me a living child that I slaughter and take the heart off to eat it… A lady offered me her child for my sacrifice. After cutting up the child I divided the heart among my boys and myself. The blood of the child was still on my hand when Jesus appeared to me and asked me to stop being a slave.”
Blahyi’s crimes included child sacrifice, cannibalism, the exploitation of child soldiers and trading blood diamonds for guns and cocaine, which he provided to boy soldiers as young as nine. He was never charged, and is now an evangelical pastor. He published an autobiography about his conversion.
The cannibal as animal
During his trial, Alieu Kosiah broke down and shouted:
“I’ve been locked up for six years, I have emotions, I’m not an animal.”
Well actually, he is an animal. We all are: humans are a species of Great Ape, as are our closest relatives the chimpanzees, who also wage war and indulge in occasional cannibalism. The point here, though, is that Kosiah saw himself stereotyped as a black man, an African, in a court full of white Europeans passing judgement on him. To the European, only a century or so ago, all Africans were considered savages and cannibals, little more than beasts, a libel which is hard to expunge, and a demonisation that was just as useful to European imperialist expansion as the use of gunboats. As recently as 1959, New York Times reporter Homer Bigart (an almost perfect name) wrote to his foreign news editor about his contempt for the new class of African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah,
“I vastly prefer the primitive bush people. After all, cannibalism may be the logical antidote to this population explosion everyone talks about.”
The savagery and cannibalism of the multitudes of wars that have swept Africa in the last decades have led to appalling atrocities. But let us not forget the role of the colonialist rulers who divided the continent up, regardless of the local tribal areas, and sucked the riches out of the land, leaving the newly independent countries destitute and riven with implacable hatreds.
As Malcolm X wrote in 1965 about the colonisers of Africa:
They projected Africa always in a negative light: jungles, savages, cannibals, nothing civilized.
So the news media is sure that Armie Hammer either is, or is not, a cannibal. Let us (briefly I hope) review.
Hammer is a young American actor (not yet 35) who found fame with his 2008 portrayal of the evangelist Billy Graham in Billy, the Early Years for which he won a “Faith and Values Award” from Mediaguide, a Christian review organisation. Will the ironies never cease!
Hammer went on to star in several movies (including some bombs like The Lone Ranger alongside Johnny Depp) but he is best known for playing Oliver in Call Me by Your Name in 2017. He was supposed to star in a sequel, based on the novel Find Me, when his world turned to shit. Or didn’t. Because he was a cannibal. Or wasn’t.
While most of us were locked down in our humble homes for much of 2020, Hammer and his family locked down in a luxury villa in the Cayman Islands, where, he told GQ Mag,
“It was a very complicated, intense situation, with big personalities all locked in a little tiny place. I don’t think I handled it very well. I think, to be quite frank, I came very close to completely losing my mind.”
Hammer’s family was, shall we say, a colourful one. His aunt Casey declared “I started watching Succession and I had to turn it off, because it was like, ‘Oh, my God. That’s my family.’”
Close families! Hammer said he felt like a trapped wolf who wanted to “chew his own foot off.” Despite the raging pandemic, he flew back to the US, where he got over his imminent divorce with wild parties and a series of girlfriends.
Unfortunately for him, several of those girlfriends in early 2021 took to social media to describe Hammer as abusive, manipulative and violent. Screenshots of his text messages appeared to show him describing fantasies (or real events) of rape and cannibalism.
“I am 100% a cannibal…. Fuck. That’s scary to admit. I’ve never admitted that before. I’ve cut the heart out of a living animal before and eaten it while still warm.”
“I want to see your brain, your blood, your organs, every part of you. I would definitely bite it. 100%. Or try to fuck it. Not sure which. Probably both.”
“If I fucked you into a vegetative state id keep you, feed you, watch you, and keep fucking you…Till you are so sore and broken…. I can’t stop thinking of [fucking] your actual brain.”
“Brand you, tattoo you, mark you, shave your head and keep your hair with me, cut a piece of your skin off and make you cook it for me…. “Who’s slave/master relationship is the strongest?” We’d win. When I tell you to slit your wrists and use the blood for anal.”
In early March, Armie’s ex-girlfriend Paige Lorenze, 24, said in an explosive interview with Vanity Fair that during their time together she felt “really unsafe and sick to her stomach.” The interview claimed that the celebrity’s ex-partners have “compared him to Ted Bundy” and said he was obsessed with Shibari – a Japanese bondage art form where people are tied up in intricate patterns. Lorenze was horrified to see the accusations of cannibalism,
“Because he would say things to me…weird stuff…like, ‘I want to eat your ribs’.”
She also claimed that Hammer had carved his initial into her pubic area and licked the wound, later bragging about it to friends, and that Hammer was fixated on biting her body, saying,
”If you did not tell me to stop I would eat a piece out of you.” And he was serious too. It was like he actually wanted to eat my flesh away.
On their first night together, Lorenze said Hammer insisted: ‘You can either call me daddy or sir.’
Another woman named Effie whom he dated for about five months in 2020 said that he had told her he wanted to eat her flesh, and would suck or lick her wounds if she had “a little cut on my hand.”
But let’s remember that no one has actually accused Hammer of acting on his alleged cannibalistic fantasies — and in fact he has never confirmed that he sent those texts. In any case, texting and sex play, even bondage and sado-masochism (if consensual), are not illegal, and Hammer clearly enjoyed both.
But if he sent these texts, and if they were just fantasies, as they appear to be, he picked the very worst time, the apex of the #MeToo movement, to send them. Hammer subsequently lost leading roles for which he had been preparing, including in the Jennifer Lopez film Shotgun Wedding, and his agency dropped him. In March 2021, Effie, the woman who initially came forward with abuse allegations on Instagram, identified herself and accused Hammer of violently raping her in April 2017. The Los Angeles Police Department subsequently confirmed that he was the subject of a sexual assault investigation, which had been set in motion a month prior. Hammer has vehemently denied any wrongdoing via his lawyer, who stated that “all of his interactions with [Effie] – and every other sexual partner of his for that matter – have been completely consensual, discussed and agreed upon in advance, and mutually participatory.”
Hammer was unable to see his family during the pandemic lockdown, and his marriage fell apart.
In June 2021, Hammer checked into a Florida treatment centre for drug, alcohol and sex issues.
Katharine Gates, the author ofDeviant Desires, describes a cannibalistic sex role play that tends to “involve more realistic scenarios…but still fantasy—they’re not actually eating pieces of people, but you will have one person be the meat and another is the preparer.”
One role play which seems popular on sites like Tumblr revolves around cannibal acts, a ‘paraphilia’ known as vorarephilia (it’s not in the DSM) – sexual arousal at eating, or being eaten by, another person (enthusiasts call themselves “vores”). A few, such as Armin Meiwes, eventually find a willing partner and make the fantasy a reality, but such cases are incredibly rare – Meiwes himself found that almost all the men who responded to his requests for someone who wanted to be eaten were not finally ready to take it to the next level – actually becoming his meal.
But why this fascination? Cannibalism is an act of domination – there can be no greater conquest of another than converting them into a meal and eventually into excrement. Hammer revealed this need to dominate in wanting to be called ‘daddy or sir’. But this hunger for incorporative power goes back to our earliest experiences.
Freud wrote of an infantile impulse toward “oral incorporation” – a desire not just to feed at the mother’s breast but to consume, possess that source of nourishment, comfort, security and love. He called one of the earliest psychological phases the “cannibalistic pregenital sexual organisation”. This drive is both loving – wanting to unite with the object of desire, and destructive – prepared to destroy the object to satisfy those desires. Infants may generate such hostility when their needs and desires are not satisfied promptly, and may also learn fear from the suspicion that the source will never be enough, or that their feeble attempts to dominate the adult may be met with far more powerful reprisals.
Maggie Kilgour, the doyen of Cannibal Studies, summed up:
“…far from being sublimated into symbolic forms or even sexual desire, our original appetites still move us, so that we remain trapped in a new oral phase of consumption. The work implies that man-eating is a reality – it is civilisation that is the myth.”
So there is a deep vein of cannibalism in our unconscious minds, and it may resurface at times of stress (e.g. being locked down in the Cayman Islands) or as an expression of affection, which in Hammer’s case did not go over well.
Is Armie Hammer a cannibal? He is a rich and handsome movie star from a rich and famous family, who built his career on playing men who can get away with anything. He is certainly a privileged and persuasive abuser of (often much) younger women, a form of exploitative consumption that is uncomfortably close to cannibalistic ingestion.
But is he a cannibal? Almost certainly not in reality. But in his mind, in the deep, dark fissures of his unconscious, he certainly is. We all are.
Andres Filomeno Mendoza Celis, 72, was arrested on Saturday evening, 15 May 2021, in his home in Calle Margaritas, in the Mexican municipality of Atizapan de Zaragoza. Detectives arrived at Mendoza’s home to interview him about the suspicious disappearance of a woman, Reyna González, a mother of two children, only to find her mutilated remains on a table. González is said to have gone to the house of Mendoza, a family friend, to buy cellphone parts for her business.
Mendoza reportedly admitted to slaughtering around thirty women over the last twenty years. Most of their names were listed in a notebook found on the premises. According to Imagen Television Mexico, Mendoza confessed to eating his victims’ body parts; he recorded the murders and mutilations on 25 videotapes. He allegedly peeled off his victim’s faces and scalps, the last one because she was “pretty”.
Bystanders watched as personnel from the Attorney General’s Office of the State of Mexico (FGJEM) came and went, carrying out excavations inside the house, looking for skeletal remains.
Investigators used sniffer dogs to locate human body parts; officers drilled through the flooring to recover the remains and hair of several other women. They also found women’s shoes, items of clothing and the voter identification cards of Flor Vizcaino, 38, who was last seen October 16, 2016 and Rubicela Castillo, 32, who was reported missing July 20, 2019.
According to the news site Televisa, the police found the skeletal remains of up to five people at the suspect’s house, as well as knives suspected of being used to kill and dismember the “victims.”
Local reports claim the suspect “could not bear the rejection of young and pretty women.” A young neighbour reported:
“He always bothered women, his gaze travelled over their bodies and fixed on their buttocks, legs and breasts… They always said he looked perverted. When they found him drunk on the street, they preferred to turn around. He drank too much and made them uncomfortable by comments he made to 30-40-year-old women.”
Mendoza is being held at the Tlalnepantla Penitentiary for the murder of Reyna González, whose remains were found at the property. Lead prosecutor for the Attorney General’s Office division, Dilcya García, said the evidence investigators were able to uncover and gather strongly indicates that they could be dealing with a cannibal “serial” killer.
Mendoza, like many modern, domestic cannibals, seemed a harmless citizen; he had been president of the council of citizen participation in the Municipal Government of Atizapán de Zaragoza. He had also been a butcher for many years, working in a slaughterhouse that prepared meat for human consumption in Tlalnepantla, so he knew how to cut skin and keep it in good condition. Well preserved, skinned faces were found, with the hair still attached.
Are there more such cases of cannibalistic murders happening now, or are authorities discovering cases which previously might never have been uncovered? In either case, there is a clear trend toward the innocuous neighbour, the seemingly bland citizen, being dragged off in cuffs, leaving behind mangled corpses missing portions of flesh. Very often, the perpetrator has been shown to have worked in a slaughterhouse. Eduard Seleznev, the “Arkhangelsk Cannibal”, worked in an abattoir, as did Sofia Zhukova, the ‘Granny Ripper.’ Alberto Sánchez Gómez lived next to a bullfighting ring. Watching other animals being sliced up into commodities must make it easier to do it to humans.
The court case has finally begun of Alberto Sánchez Gómez, a Madrid waiter who told police he butchered his own mother before sharing her body parts with his dog. In February 2019, police arrived at the house which Gómez shared with his mother after family friends reported that they hadn’t seen her for several days. Gómez opened the door and reportedly told them that he had strangled his mother to death, then allegedly said “Me and the dog have been eating her, bit by bit.”
Officers found the 66-year-old mother’s limbs, wrapped in plastic, spread around various rooms, while other parts were in the fridge and in the oven. Some pieces had been cooked and were still in a pan. Several police officers were reportedly violently sick due to the overwhelming stench and shock of what they were seeing.
The suspect was arrested and has since admitted that he strangled his mother, dismembered her body using a carpenter’s saw and two kitchen knives, and then spent 15 days eating her remains whilst feeding the bits he did not want to his dog. Police found body parts in six large Tupperware containers. The 66-year-old pensioner was chopped into at least 1,000 pieces and her vital organs were missing. It is claimed that her intestines were found mixed with domestic waste inside the flat.
Former friends of the alleged cannibal told of how he had a number of problems after becoming addicted to drugs. According to local media, the court believes that the suspect is suffering from a mental illness, possibly borderline personality disorder, and was at the time consuming hard drugs. The cocktail of drugs and mental illness could have resulted in an outburst that led to him killing his mother. The results of psychiatric tests on the defendant are expected to be presented later in the trial. Friends reported Gómez used to spend his days hanging out on a park bench near his mum’s flat, drinking with local homeless people.
The court heard that Gómez, 26, had frequently been violent towards his mother Maria Soledad Gómez, 66, who had taken out a restraining order against him, yet she would always take him back, telling friends: “What can I do, he is my son”.
Gómez has been charged with murder and the desecration of a corpse, for which he is facing 15 years and five months in prison along with EUR 90,000 compensation to be paid to his brother. Local media have called Gómez the ‘Cannibal of Guindalera’, which is a Madrid barrio dominated by Las Ventas, a 1920s bullring with a striking Moorish-influenced design. Bullfighting is a barbaric spectacle in which each year thousands of bulls are violently killed for the entertainment of the largely inebriated crowd. Here is PETA’s description of the “fight”:
In a typical bullfight, the bull enters the arena and is approached by picadors—men on horses who drive lances into his back and neck muscles. This attack impairs his ability to lift his head and defend himself. The picadors twist and gouge the lances to ensure significant blood loss…
Finally, the matador appears and—after provoking a few exhausted charges from the dying animal—tries to sever the bull’s aorta with his sword. If he misses, succeeding only in further mutilating the animal, he exchanges his sword for a dagger to try to cut the spinal cord. If he blunders this stroke, the bull may be conscious but paralysed when chained by the horns and dragged out of the arena.
If the crowd is happy with the matador, the bull’s ears—and sometimes his tail—are cut off and presented as trophies. A few minutes later, another bull enters the arena, and the sadistic cycle starts again.
The remains of the tortured bull are sold for meat after the event.
Globally, millions of people are reported missing each year, just like Maria Gomez. Many are never found – could some have been eaten? And why are we surprised when what is done to other animals is done to humans, particularly so near a bullring, which specialises in the torment and consumption of sentient animals?
Fun fact:this week, as the court case began, IFL Science reported that “New evidence has shed light on an 800,000-year-old cannibalistic murder” – the skeletal remains of a young female from the species Homo antecessor, perhaps the last common ancestors of Neanderthals and us. Researchers found on her bones teeth marks, butchering marks, and signs of marrow extraction – fairly solid evidence she was chopped up and eaten.
Nice to know how much progress we’ve made in the last 800,000 years.
“Man who abducted 5yo from campground wanted to eat her, court hears”
Cecil Maurice Mabb, 41, pleaded guilty to assaulting and abducting the girl from Montagu Campground, in Tasmania’s north west, on January 24.
The Prosecutor told the Burnie Supreme Court that the girl went on a bike ride with her four-year-old male friend while her family was pitching their tent at the site.
She said Mabb had parked his ute in isolated bushland near the campground before he grabbed the girl by her legs, threw her over his shoulder and then threw her in his car as she screamed.
The court was told Mabb also strangled the child, who later said she was not able to breathe or speak while his hands were around her neck.
The family was alerted by her young friend, who had been screaming at Mabb to let her go and told them “the man scared me … he got her.”
Another camper found the girl on the beach alone, about one kilometre from the family’s campsite.
Mabb called police shortly after the incident, telling them “it’s all bad … it’s a real emergency … I just tried to kidnap a child”.
Mabb has denied there was ever any intention of doing anything sexual with the girl, and the prosecution did not argue otherwise.
The court has heard he told police he “just needed company, someone to listen to me, someone to give me a cuddle”, and that the child reminded him of his granddaughter.
While in maximum security at Risdon Prison, Ms Prence said Mabb told prison staff his motivation for the abduction was to eat her, and that he had wanted to eat people since he was a child.
His solicitor told the court while he did say that, it was on the advice of fellow inmates, who told him to make his circumstances “as bad as possible” so he had greater access to medication and therapeutic help.
The court was told that between 1995 and 2003, Mabb had been sexually offending, in behaviour he described as “exploring his sexuality with behaviour that had been normalised”.
“Paedophile snatches little girl so he ‘could eat her’”
They paint a different picture of the evidence, with the prosecutor saying:
“intelligence from Risdon Prison indicated Mabb had told staff he told police he was a paedophile because that was better than “what he really was”. He told staff he had taken the little girl so he could eat her.”
Defence counsel Hannah Phillips told the court was no evidence Mabb said those words in jail.
“My client told me he had been instructed by other inmates to make up stories and to make them as bad as possible to get better access to medication.”
Mabb will be sentenced next month for his admitted crimes of assault and attempted abduction. Meanwhile, the locals have decided their own sentence.
Mabb had bought land and set up a caravan and shed at Rosebery in 2019. Those structures have been burnt down since Mabb has been in custody following the attempted abduction.
The interesting point about this story is that the offender has pleaded guilty to what he did and will be sentenced accordingly. But the prurient media interest is not in what he did but in what he said: he said he had grabbed a little girl for a cuddle (?) and that he wanted to eat her. Neither was true, apparently – he wanted to get caught so he would get medicated by the state. Yet the headlines offered another charge: “Paedophile snatches little girl so he ‘could eat her’”. Someone who read that promptly burnt down his shed and caravan, in a form of rough justice.
Wikipedia tells us that paedophilia was first formally recognized and named in the late 19th century. Sigmund Freud was writing then, and knew all about the subject, but wrote in a letter to Marie Bonaparte in 1932 that incest and cannibalism are the two original prohibitions of mankind. If he read the papers today, he might scratch out incest (and decades of work) and substitute paedophilia.
But cannibalism is still right up there, in the top two headline grabbers, the gold medal for salacious scandal.
A Sydney woman who cut her 57-year-old mother’s head off with kitchen knives in July 2019 was found guilty of manslaughter in the NSW Supreme Court, after pleading not guilty to murder due to mental impairment. The court was told that Jessica Camilleri – who had a history of refusing to take psychiatric medications – had only stopped the attack when her mother’s head fell off and her eyeballs came out of their sockets.
A judge said Camilleri had practised “grave and mutilating depravity”, had squeezed and prodded her mother’s eyeball after removing it, and engaged in “acts of decapitation and cannibalism”.
Camilleri was sentenced, in March 2021, to serve 21 years and 7 months in prison, but may be eligible for parole when she’s 41, in 2035.
Mother and daughter had been at home in the mother’s St Clair house where they had dined on Red Rooster (chicken) before Jessica demanded a second delivery from the food outlet, then turned on Rita, who had threatened to have her daughter taken into mental health care. Jessica dragged her mother into the kitchen by the hair and attacked her with steak knives, beheading her and removing her tongue, eyeballs and nose.
The week-long trial saw graphic police evidence, crime scene bodycam video and a police interview with Ms Camilleri, her face still coated with her mother’s blood and her hands bagged.
Senior Constable Jodie Bennett, who examined the living room and a bedroom in the Camilleri house, found blood-soaked hair, human tissue, pools of vomit, overlapping blood-soaked footprints, plus a Crocodile Dundee figurine, the head of which had been detached.
The court heard Ms Camilleri was obsessed with figurines and violent horror movies featuring decapitation such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Detective Sergeant Brett Griffin, who examined the crime scene between 12.42am and 7am on Sunday July 21, told the court that out on the footpath in front of the neighbour’s house he found Rita Camilleri’s mutilated head.
“I saw an area of apparent bloodstaining and human tissue,” he said. “A short distance away I saw a human head with numerous injuries including a severed nose, removed eyes and numerous groupings of apparent lacerations and incised stab wounds.”
In her judgement, Justice Helen Wilson SC said:
“I’m satisfied the offender knocked her mother to the floor and then dragged her by her hair into the kitchen… The focus of the onslaught was upon her mother’s head and face, with over 100 individual blows landed, many on Mrs Camilleri’s right cheek. Mrs Camilleri was conscious and trying to defend herself for long enough to have sustained over 90 defensive injuries and a knife wound to a vein in her neck.”
Camilleri had previously been diagnosed with a range of conditions, including an intellectual disability, an autism disorder and ADHD. However, she didn’t like to take her medication and Mrs Camilleri had no recourse when she failed to do so, the trial heard.
A four-year-old, known as Child A, whom Jessica referred to as “the little bastard”, was in the house at the time and tried to jump on her to stop the attack. She fought off and wounded the child.
A forensic psychiatrist, Professor David Greenberg, told the NSW Supreme Court last year that in addition to her mild intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder, Ms Camilleri suffers from a rage disorder that causes her to lose control and “explode like a bomb” when provoked or triggered by stressors.
Justice Wilson said Camilleri fully understood the wrongful nature of her actions and had squeezed one of her mother’s eyeballs after the decapitation. “The removal of Mrs Camilleri’s eyes does not appear to have been an act of deep and uncontrolled rage, rather, at this stage, the offender was indulging a sort of macabre curiosity sparked by her obsessive viewing of horror movies.”
Asked how Ms Camilleri’s decision to remove her mother’s eyeballs sits with the intermittent explosive disorder diagnosis, Professor Greenberg replied:
“it could also be more consistent with her autism spectrum disorder, her fascination for horror movies and body parts, decapitation, cannibalism, in her interest in these horror movies that she collected and views all the time.”
Camilleri later told a forensic psychiatrist she bit off her mother’s nose and that she got the idea to cut off her head from horror movies. She had a fixation on horror films, and owned eight copies of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and five of Jeepers Creepers, the court was told. The Crown Prosecutor added “A feature of these movies was killing people violently and dismembering their bodies”. Cannibalism featured prominently in both films.
After the attack, Camilleri dropped her mother’s head in the street and called the police emergency number, telling them that:
“I was just so caught up in the anger I kept stabbing and stabbing her and I took off her head. I ran to my neighbour and I had my mum’s head in my hand and I was taking it as evidence to show that in the struggle, I didn’t know what I was doing so I cut her head off. I chopped her head off with a knife.”
Camilleri told police when they arrived: “My mum’s head is on the concrete over there. Can you bring someone back to life if they don’t have a head? There’s nothing you can do, she’s a goner? They can’t restart her heart? ‘Cos I know doctors can do miracles they can’t resew her head?”
Police officer: “That’s a bit of a stretch.”
Her older sister Kristi Torrisi Rita’s testified at the trial about her sister’s troubled childhood and how, once in desperation, her mother had paid a medium $2,500 to get “the demon out of Jessica”. She said the mum was “killed and butchered like she was nothing, all because of a fit of rage”.
The case raises a lot of definitional issues. The judge stated that Camilleri had engaged in “acts of decapitation and cannibalism” yet none of the news stories mention any swallowing of human flesh (although biting off a nose might count). But cannibalism is a slippery concept, hard to define. We assume the cannibal to be the person who eats the flesh or organs of other humans. However, Robert Myers, who wrote a careful study of the allegations of Carib cannibalism, pointed out that this is too narrow:
“There is an absence of a clear definition of cannibalism, a practice encompassing an extremely broad and sometimes ambiguous range of behaviours. Cannibalism can include drinking water-diluted ashes of a cremated relative, licking blood off a sword in warfare, masticating and subsequently vomiting a snippet of flesh, celebrating Christian communion, or gnawing on entire barbecued limbs as De Bry depicts Caribs doing.“
Then we have Camilleri’s sister accusing her of butchering their mother “like she was nothing”. Butchery is a term used in warfare for massacres, but most commonly it is a business term. A butcher used to be someone who killed farmed animals and sold their parts, but now it usually involves no killing, which is done elsewhere behind high walls, and is a retail profession – selling bits of the dead animals to customers. The animals are not “nothing” in butchery but the raw material, valuable commodities to be sold, their ‘nothingness’ restricted to the moral value of which they are deprived by the logic of capitalism. Butchery, in other words, is normally done for profit. But the lessons we draw from its ubiquity in our societies can be taken to heart in many different ways.
“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” – Pythagoras c. 500BC (attributed by Ovid)
Next month we’ll take a look at the ever-evolving Armie Hammer story. Spoiler: he’s not a cannibal, he’s a very naughty boy! You can read more “cannibalism news” at this link.
Lawrence Paul Anderson was arrested in February for the murder of his neighbour Andrea Lynn Blankenship, 41, as well as his uncle Leon Pye, 67, and his four-year-old niece Kaeos Yates. Police allege that Anderson, 42, cut out his neighbour’s heart and cooked it with potatoes for his family, then proceeded to kill them too.
On February 9 2021, Chickasha (Oklahoma) police responded to a 911 call from a woman pleading for help. They found Leon Pye already dead and his granddaughter Kaeos critically injured. She died in the back of the ambulance. Delsie Pye, Leon ‘s wife, was alive, but had knife wounds to both eyes.
Two days later Anderson confessed to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation that before slaughtering his family, he had broken into the home of a neighbour and butchered the woman (Blankenship) who lived there.
“He confessed to going to 227 West Minnesota Avenue, Chickasha,” an agent reported. “He used his shoulder to knock in the back door. There were two German Shepherd dogs in the house. Anderson advised he killed the female resident and cut her heart out.”
“He took the heart back to 214 West Minnesota, Chickasha. He cooked the heart with potatoes to feed to his family, to release the demons.”
The SBI is seeking a warrant to collect from the home “pots, pans and any utensils for cooking.”
The triple murder sparked additional public outrage after it emerged that Anderson had been released from prison early, in January, as reported by the Oklahoman. He had been sentenced to twenty years behind bars for gun and drug offenses in 2017 before Governor Kevin Stitt commuted the sentence to nine years at the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. He was released on parole in January after serving just over three years, and had been staying with his aunt and uncle since his release.
Grady County District Attorney Jason Hicks charged Anderson with three counts of first-degree murder and two felony charges of assault and battery with a deadly weapon and maiming on Tuesday. He was not charged with cannibalism. With the exception of Idaho, there are no laws against cannibalism in the United States.
Anderson sobbed in court during his initial appearance Tuesday, telling the judge: ‘I don’t want no bail, your honor. I don’t want no bail.’ Anderson does not look, at first glance, like a monster. Rather, he seems to offer support to Arendt’s theory of the banality of evil.
Anderson is being held without bond, and the prosecution says that the death penalty ‘is on the table’.
Once again, we see that acts of cannibalism will dominate news stories, while murders are considered barely more than mundane. Yet paradoxically, while penalties for murder are usually substantial, cannibalism is not against the law in most jurisdictions, even in the USA (excluding Idaho), the country where a large proportion of cases of contemporary cannibalism occur.
Legislators, it seems, would prefer to pretend it just doesn’t happen. Until it does.
For more cannibal news, choose that category in the box on the right of the screen.
The Russian Supreme Court has just confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment on Eduard Seleznev, known as the “Arkhangelsk Cannibal”, who killed and ate the flesh of three men.
Seleznev killed three of his friends aged 59, 43 and 34 between March 2016 and March 2017, getting them drunk and then stabbing them to death. He admitted the murders, and added that he had then sliced their bodies up, kept the meat in plastic bags, and disposed of the bodies in the Volokhnitsa river. He subsequently boiled and ate the flesh.
Psychiatrists advised the court that they had found him to be sane and responsible for his actions, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment, but appealed to the Supreme Court, which has just this week confirmed the earlier sentence and advised that he should never be paroled. He was ordered to pay over one million roubles (roughly $14,000 USD) in compensation to the victims’ families.
The parents of one of the victims had gone looking for their son but found Seleznev living in the man’s flat. After murdering and eating the man’s flesh, Seleznev had decided to stay in the flat and started working at a local meat processing plant. Seleznev told the parents that the man had moved to St. Petersburg, but the family members found odd-looking unpackaged meat lying on the floor. Understandably suspicious, they went to the police.
Seleznev apparently had been convicted for a double murder previously but been released after thirteen years in jail in 2000, and had lived in basements, where he caught and cooked local cats, dogs, birds and other small animals found on the streets. Murder of humans is very often preceded by slaughter of other animals. It is not surprising that Seleznev killed dogs, cats and birds or chose to work in a slaughterhouse.
The sociopathic personality usually develops in early childhood or adolescence and is classified under the diagnosis of “conduct disorder,” which then develops into “anti-social personality disorder” (both of these are listed in the DSM). One of the early signs of a conduct disorder is often cruelty to animals.
Like most jurisdictions, cannibalism is not listed in the Russian criminal code, so Seleznev was charged with murder and misusing the victims’ body parts. To the cannibal, of course, burying good meat is misuse, while eating could be considered – sustainable harvesting?