Cannibalism News Kerala: bodies cut up, possibly eaten

Indian media is consumed with news that Kochi City Police in the Indian state of Kerala are investigating whether the accused in a human sacrifice case “cooked and ate the flesh of the victims”.

City Police Commissioner C H Nagaraju said the police are still collecting evidence. He told a press conference on Wednesday 12 October 2022:

“There’s some information that the accused ate parts of the body after killing the victims. It is being investigated. We have to conduct DNA analysis and other scientific examinations.”

Three people were arrested the day before in connection with the murder of two women in Elanthoor ­— Padmam (52) a native of Tamil Nadu, and Rosily Varghese (50) a native of Thrissur.

Those arrested were Muhammad Shafi (52), a native of Perumbavoor who is currently residing in Kochi, and a couple — Bhagaval Singh (68) of Elanthoor and his wife Laila (59).

Bhagaval Singh and his wife Laila ran a massage centre at Elanthoor in Pathanamthitta district. Shafi is alleged to have brought the two women to the couple’s home in June and September, where they were brutally murdered by the couple.

The remand report filed at the Judicial First Class Magistrate court confirmed that human sacrifices for prosperity were the reason for both murders. Occult killings have become a recurrent theme in Indian criminal typology, much like serial killers in the USA or narco-cults in Mexico.

“Mohammed Shafi proposed that consumption of human sacrifices would ensure economic prosperity.”

The Ernakulam Judicial First Class Magistrate Court on Wednesday remanded all three accused to judicial custody. The police said they will approach the court seeking custody of the accused for 12 days to initiate further inquiry and collect evidence.

Commissioner C H Nagaraju said that the first accused, Shafi (aka Rasheed), is a “sexual pervert”, as there were sadistic injuries found on the private parts of the victims. “He is a hardcore criminal, a psychopath. We are investigating whether there are more accused and if more such cases happened,” the commissioner said.

“In 2020, Shafi raped a 75-year-old woman and inflicted grievous injuries on her private parts as well. This indicates sexual perversion and psychopathic behaviour.”

Padmam, who was living in a rented room in Elamkulam and selling lottery tickets, was picked up from near Krishna Hospital in Kochi, at around 10.15am on September 26. Police recovered a clip from CCTV footage in which Padmam was seen getting into Shafi’s car. She was offered Rs 15,000 by Shafi, according to the remand report. The two reached the house of Bhagaval Singh and Laila at Elanthoor around 4 pm the same day. The remand report says,

“At the bedroom located in the central part of the house, Padmam demanded money from the accused persons. Following the argument on it, they strangulated Padmam using a plastic rope. When Padmam became unconscious, she was shifted to another bedroom on the western side of the house. Shafi inflicted injuries on Padmam’s private parts with a knife and then slashed her throat, which led to her death. Later, all accused persons cut Padmam into 56 pieces using a cleaver and knives. These parts were collected in a bucket and dumped at a pit which was dug up in the compound of the house at the northern side.”

In the interrogation, the accused person reportedly confessed to a similar human sacrifice carried out in June 2022. The other victim, Rosily Varghese of Ashokapuram, Aluva, was taken to the couple’s house at Elanthoor and was reportedly offered Rs 10 lakhs for acting in a movie.

“Rosily’s hands and legs were tied to the bed in a room in the centre of the house. A piece of cloth was inserted into her mouth which was also taped with plaster. She was stabbed by Shafi and her throat was slashed. Later, her private parts were cut and preserved. The accused persons then cut up her body into several pieces and collected them in a bucket. The body parts were later dumped in a pit dug at the eastern part of the house.”

The Hindustan Times reported that police were using cadaver-sniffing dogs and digging at Shafi’s property to determine if there were any more victims buried there.

The couple allegedly admitted to consuming the victims’ flesh after each murder.

When asked if the accused persons cooked and ate the body parts of the two women, the Kochi Police Commissioner said:

“For human cannibalism to be proved there has to be a proper examination.”

It is reported that Shafi reacted with a smile when police asked whether he had eaten the flesh of the murdered women.

Sources in the investigation team disclosed that many internal organs from the two bodies were not found. “There were no lungs, livers, kidneys in the bodies of Roseli and Padma, the women who were sacrificed as part of the ritual,” said a member of the investigating team. The post mortem reports say that the dead bodies had been cut by a person familiar with human anatomy. Though Shafi conceded that he had worked as a mortuary assistant and was versed in handling dead bodies, the police have not ruled out the possibility of an outsider in the “mission”.

Yet another factor that concerns police is the revelation by the husband-wife team of Bhagwal and Laila that Shafi had assured them that the victims’ flesh could be sold, authorities claimed. Shafi allegedly told Singh and Laila, according to IANS,

“Some people who do certain [types of worship] eat human flesh.”

The flesh could net the couple up to Rs 20 lakh ($US24,280), and a buyer was already on their way to pick all of it up, Shafi claimed, according to investigating officers.

The hacked bodies were preserved in the refrigerator in the residence, where Shafi allegedly told police they had stored 10kg of human flesh. The refrigerator is stained with human blood and Shafi’s fingerprints were found on it. The investigators also came across a pressure cooker that apparently had been used to cook the flesh.

Reports are going around Kochi that Shafi may have sold cooked human flesh through the eatery owned by him in Ernakulam.

Animal sacrifices were carried out in Kerala until banned in the 1920s. Manu Pillai’s book Ivory Throne indicates that humans were at one time among the animals sacrificed, and that that human sacrifice used to be performed at the Panayannarkavu Devi Temple near Mannar.

Kerala Higher Education and Social Justice Minister Dr R Bindu said that the disturbing incident of human sacrifice was the result of “the frustration caused by globalisation.”

“People are falling into traps as they desperately try to make a quick buck as a result of globalization. In such a situation, some people are easily duped by false illusions that human sacrifices can bring them wealth.”

As the forces of neo-liberal capitalism turn us all into voracious consumers and simultaneously raw materials for commodification, it should not be surprising that the sacrifice and consumption of other animals for food, leather, experimentation or other uses is expanding into the sacrifice and consumption of human ones.

There is a comprehensive report on this case on NDTV, including a long interview with the Kochi Police Commissioner:

Young Leatherface: THE SAWYER MASSACRE (Steve Merlo, 2022)

Whether you loved or hated (or anything in-between) Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, it is widely acknowledged to be a seminal work in the history of slasher movies generally, and specifically of cannibal films. Total Film made it number one of the fifty greatest horror movies of all time (Psycho was number 6!) and Richard Zoglin of Time said that it set “a new standard for slasher films”. Ben Woodard called it “unambiguously the greatest horror film ever made.” That makes creating a sequel (or actually a prequel) all the more fraught!

Chainsaw was based partly on the real-life (real-death?) exploits of Ed Gein, the “Butcher of Plainfield”, who decorated his house with all sorts of furniture made of human bones and skin, but Gein had dug most of them up from graveyards. The man-monster from TCSM was Leatherface who wore a mask (well before the rest of us) and even made it himself (far more sustainable than the rest of us). It was, however, made of human skin, which you can’t get readily even on Etsy, and he sourced his raw materials from those travelling through his little corner of Texas, cutting them up with a large and noisy chainsaw, often bashing them on the head with a mallet first, as the more primitive slaughterhouses used to do to the cattle in their yards.

But why did he do that? We get some hints in the movie from his brother, the Hitchhiker, who makes it clear that the family had been “in meat” and worked in the local slaughterhouses, which had closed as industry fled the “fly-over” states. But a lot of people lost their jobs in the seventies, and most of them did not go out and buy chainsaws with murderous intent. So how did Leatherface get started? And whose idea was it to eat the victims?

Such questions have clearly been on the mind of TCSM fan Steve Merlo, who recently sat down for an interview with Bloody Disgusting about his intended feature film THE SAWYER MASSACRE, intended as a prequel to the 1974 classic.

The film has been crowdfunded through Indegogo (now closed unfortunately) but should have raised enough to see it released in about August 2022.

Here’s the plot from the Director:

While recovering from the loss of someone close, Jimmy’s friends bring him to the Texas countryside to escape city life. In need of supplies for their cabin, they head to a gas station where they are directed to an isolated farmhouse. The property is not as it seems. They find themselves hunted by the cannibalistic psychopath known as Leatherface.

Clearly, it follows the formula that was also seen in The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn, The Farm and loads of other slasher movies where humans are on the table instead of sitting around it. But, as Merlo says,

“It is our intent not to copy what the original did, but use it as influence in a stylistic way. Our film will have more blood and kills, but will still be very subtle in its delivery.”

The film is due for release in 2022, the date that appears in IMDB. The film also has a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page if you wish to follow its progress.

Dexter is delicious: “What’s Eating Dexter Morgan?” DEXTER Season 8 Episode 3

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Dexter is a television series that ran for 96 episodes from 2006-13. This episode is from the final season, and is the only one to feature a cannibal, which seems like a pretty shocking oversight really.

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall, who played David Fisher in Six Feet Under) is a serial killer who also works as a blood spatter technician for the Miami metro police. There’s a lot of analysis of how he got that way (didn’t help that he saw his mother chopped up with a chainsaw when he was little) but, as he is not the cannibal in this tale, we don’t have to concern ourselves too much about that. Interesting to note, though, that although he is presented as a psychopath, he is often shown to have emotions and feelings that might not result in that diagnosis. In fact, Dexter only kills very bad people (just as Hannibal Lecter mostly only kills very rude ones) so he is really more a vigilante than a psychopath, and is motivated by a sense of justice that the Nietzschean Dr Lecter might find laughably absurd. We would have to conclude that both, however, are trying to improve the world by removing objectionable characters from its surface.

Dexter follows a suspect, Ron Galuzzo (Andrew Elvis Miller), to the mall where he sells exercise equipment. Galuzzo measures Dexter’s body/fat ratio, a wink to what we are about to find out about the dude and his culinary interests.

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Dexter breaks into Galuzzo’s house and it’s a mess, except for the kitchen, which is clean and spotless. Dexter opens a crock pot and finds a finger in the stew. Dexter is horrified, because I guess serial killers are not used to seeing body parts. Or perhaps Dexter is secretly a vegan.

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In the fridge, Dexter finds plastic containers containing various body parts. One of them holds a whole brain marinating in a garlic sauce.

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Dexter has a killing ritual, in which the victim is bound and gagged; in this case, it takes place in Galuzzo’s kitchen.

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He first lectures Galuzzo on the evils of cannibalism (bit of a nerve from someone whose hobby is slicing people up) then admits that he thinks that he and Galuzzo are alike, because

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Of course, Dexter has a rather better set of knives than most cannibals.

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Galuzzo is the only cannibal featured in the TV series, which is all based around the first book of an entertaining and highly amusing series of eight novels by Jeff Lindsay. A quite different case of cannibalism is featured in the fifth novel, Dexter is Delicious (2010). In the book, Dexter faces a coven of cannibals who eat (sometimes willing) victims in a Dionysian romp.

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The story revolves around Dexter and his sister, Deb, trying to save a young girl who doesn’t want to be saved; she wants to be eaten. I shall leave the cannibal unnamed in this extract, so as not to be accused of spoilers.

“Some of them do. They want to be eaten – just as much as I want to eat them…. Almost makes you believe in a benevolent God, doesn’t it?”

The book (IMHO) offers a much better cannibal story than the one in this episode, and we can only wish that the television gods had adapted it instead of this rather insipid character who presents no real challenge to Dexter, beyond offending his delicate sensibilities. Maybe Legal forbade it. Fine to tie a cannibal up, abuse him and slaughter him, but to eat someone who wants to be eaten? Now there’s an ethical dilemma for our times.

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Innocent cannibalism: “SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET” (King, 1936)

One of the earliest films in the range of cannibal stories I have chosen to cover is George King’s 1936 version of Sweeney Todd. Sweeney is a modern myth, but is a descendant of the shadow archetype, those who destroy themselves in trying to destroy others, including Homer’s Cyclops, whose behaviour, Lacan would say, is governed by “unregulated libidinism”. This Todd is certainly so governed.

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The poster on the wall of the barber shop, where the story is told

The title role is played by the wonderfully named Tod Slaughter, who presents Todd as pure evil: socially respectable, yet greedy for money and lusting after the young heroine, Johanna. This is a far more straight forward explanation of cannibalism than the 21st century version where Depp is motivated by revenge at injustice (and insists on singing as well).

The plot is straightforward: Todd has a barber shop near the docks where he lures passers-by in for a shave, kills them and steals their valuables, the kind of simple but effective business plan that any bank would find beguiling.

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Todd’s partner in crime, Mrs Lovett, has a pie shop and profitably disposes of the bodies. Johanna is the daughter of a local merchant and Todd offers to go into partnership with him, planning to ruin him and blackmail him into approving marriage with his daughter. When the girl’s true love, Mark, returns with riches from the African colonies, (he also bravely fights off a tribe of savages, who are probably cannibals in terms of the colonial trope) he is robbed by Todd but saved from death by Mrs Lovett, who is jealous of Todd’s attention to Johanna. In an interesting instance of early (pre-‘slasher’) gender displacement, Johanna decides to save Mark by dressing as a boy, but is captured by Todd and, setting the gender roles back to basics, has to be rescued from the resulting fire (which consumes Todd) by Mark.

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Neither Todd nor Lovett are ever seen eating human flesh – all cannibalism is performed by the unwitting customers, alluded to when Mark’s comic relief friend and shipmate, Pearley, munches through a pie while speculating on what Todd does with the bodies. The word ‘cannibal’ is never uttered, and the only whiff of abjection is when the narrator, a modern day barber in Todd’s old shop recounting the story to a customer, reveals there is a pie shop next door, and watches in amazement as the man flees. This is textbook abjection: the smell of meat from some non-human mammal cooking next door has made the customer in contemporary London realise his own mortality.

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The class nature of nineteenth century England is illustrated by young Tobias, who is brought to Todd as an apprentice: Todd gets one guinea for each boy he takes from the parish. The Beadle warns Todd that this is the last boy he is getting: presumably he has killed, and Mrs Lovett has cooked, the previous seven.

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“You’ve brought me another apprentice. And a nice little boy, too!”

The boy prepares the victims by applying shaving cream, and is then sent off for a walk with a penny pie from next door, making the innocent lad the chief innocent cannibal. In fact, all the cannibalism is innocent and is carried out by the lower classes, represented by Pearley and Tobias, an apparent metaphor for the exploitation with which the working class was struggling in the 1930s when the film was made. Todd’s unconscionable slaughter of men (never women, except, almost, the disguised Johanna) for profit is pure objectification: he treats his fellow humans as commodities. No explanation is given, nor needed: Todd’s maniacal laughter is necessary and sufficient to make clear that he is a psychopath; in this, he is a mythic figure: the stuff of nightmares.

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Full movie (with some audio issues) is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6W0YoxQkTjs

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