We all have dreams. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an astronaut ballerina. Unfortunately, some people’s dreams are dark and sinister. This is the story of Armin Meiwes, and what he did to fulfill his dreams.
The year was 1961. US president Dwight D. Eisenhower severed diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba before John F. Kennedy was sworn into his first term. Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space after orbiting Earth once and then parachuting to the ground. And, movies like Breakfast at Tiffany’s and West Side Story hit theaters.
Outside of Rotenburg, Germany is a village called Wustfeld (voost-feld), and on December 1, 1961, Armin Meiwes was born. His childhood seemed relatively normal. His father was a policeman who saved up his money to buy a mansion for the family of Armin’s mother, Waltrud (vall-trod), and two half-brothers.
Behind closed doors, Waltrud was an extremely manipulative, possessive and jealous wife. The only reason she had gotten pregnant with Armin was to prevent his father from leaving. She was constantly accusing him of cheating, and the couple often fought. Some arguments even escalated to her threatening to kill him if he ever left.
His father was rather distant and stern. While not documented to be abusive or cruel, he was rather disinterested in his son, Armin. In 1969, when Armin was just 8 years old, his father left and his older brothers followed soon after. Armin described feeling “very lonesome” after that.
In an interview with Meiwes, he said his childhood before his father left was rather normal and happy. He would ride horses and build treehouses with his brothers. A neighbor said that his mother had no lack of love for him, and always dreamed of a home full of children and grandchildren.
Most other reports say that his mother was not affectionate, treating her son more as a servant than anything. But Armin loved to read. He would escape his loneliness through books and his imagination. It was through these stories he got his first exposure to cannibalism through works like Hansel & Gretel and Robinson Caruso.
At age 12, he started to develop imaginary friends and fantasies around cannibalism, including an imaginary little brother named Franky. He would fantasize about eating them so that “they would never leave.” He was extremely isolated at home, and used these imaginary figures as a replacement for social interaction. Even when he left the house, his mother insisted on accompanying him, even as he aged into adulthood.
In their teens, the neighborhood boys would go out to dance clubs and parties, but Armin never joined them. He did develop normal crushes and desires for women, but ultimately, his end goal was consumption rather than a normal relationship. When he would bring home girls to meet his mother, she would send them away because she didn’t think they were good enough. She wanted candidates to be the “perfect” daughter-in-law, but her ideal woman probably didn’t exist.
At 19, he joined the army in 1980. He was stationed near home so he continued to live with his mother. He said that military life was very comfortable and normal for him. He really enjoyed the structure. While enlisted, people started to question his sexuality. He said he met lots of girls and he told people he had a fiancé out of town but no one ever saw or met her. One time he asked an army friend if they thought he was gay. They told him, ”you have to figure that out on your own.”
While in the army, Armin found a love of sailing through a group of other enlisted army members. They said whenever they were on the boats, he always had a camera in hand. He loved the freedom of the sea and would go on trips whenever he could.
Also while in the army, he started drinking heavily and after two drunk driving incidents he was discharged. In total, he served 12 years.
In September of 1999, his mother passed away after a prolonged illness. When she died, he grieved normally. He was extremely sad, he cried, but he also appreciated the support of the neighbors. They would bring him food, and he would work on their cars or computers.
With his mother’s death, he inherited the house and estate. He also started working as a computer technician, but stayed fairly isolated. He would often visit a local brothel called the Blue Moon, but usually he just ended up passing out at the bar.
While in the army and his mother was still alive, the cannibalistic fantasies took a back burner. But now that he was discharged and his mother had passed, the childhood fantasies returned. He turned to internet pornography, and started getting into more extreme fetishes. He discovered a website called The Cannibal Cafe. On this site, there were ads of people wanting to be eaten. Many were very specific such as “ being barbecued like a chicken” and other such things.
Meiwes posted an ad using his alias, Franky. “I’m looking for a young, well-built male aged 18 to 30 to be slaughtered and consumed.”
He received many replies but most only wanted to role play. He did receive one serious response from a man named Borg Jose. They exchanged messages back and forth, and Borg visited Armin’s home as per their agreement. Meiwes tied him up and was prepared to kill him when Borg backed out. Armin was disappointed but understood. He untied him and let him go.
Meiwes later said that he would never kill without consent. The person had to be willing to die.
Mavis return to the cannibal Cafe and posted once again as Franky. This is when he found an ad from Bernd Brandes, under the alias Cator99, looking for someone to eat him alive.
Bernd Jurgen Brandes was a 43 year old, bisexual male from Berlin. He had a long-term relationship with a woman named Bettina, but she ended the relationship when she discovered his interest in men. Secretly, Brandes had a desire to be eaten alive. He was also obsessed with sexual mutilation. At age 40, he became obsessed with working out in order to maintain a nice physique even as he aged. His coworkers said he was a really nice, fun guy to work with. However, toward the end, his personality slowly turned more negative as time passed. He also started doing more outlandish things such as parachuting.
The two corresponded for over a month, talking about the best ways to kill, consume and dispose of the body. They also agreed that the whole thing would be filmed. Meiwes had again been very clear that the victim had to consent to being killed for him. The killing was just in necessity and not actually part of the fantasy.
Once he settled on a plan with Meiwes, he sold all of his belongings and wiped his hard drive. He bought a one-way train ticket to Rotenberg, and Meiwes picked him up at the train station. They stopped at a pharmacy for painkillers and sleeping pills.
When they arrived in Meiwes’ home, Brandes stood in the living room and removed all of his clothes, saying that Meiwes could take a look at his dinner. The entire evening was videotaped.
During their correspondence, Brandes had some very clear wishes. One was that he wanted to have Meiwes bite off his penis while he was still alive and conscious. He took sleeping pills with alcohol to help with the pain, but Meiwes was not successful and needed to eventually use a knife to remove it. Brandes said that he only felt pain for a short period of time, and this was disappointing to him because he wanted to feel more pain. His idea of the ultimate high was to be eaten alive and experienced pain so bad that it would kill him.
The second part of that request was that they would eat it together. Meiwes cut the penis in half, blanched it, seasoned it, and then lightly fried it. Both were highly disappointed as the meat was chewy and inedible.
At this point, Brandes was bleeding heavily so Meiwes took him to the bathroom and put him in a hot bath because he said he was cold. He later tried to get out of the bath on his own will but passed out. Meiwes then carried him to a bed in the Slaughter Room and watched over him as he drifted in and out. While waiting, Meiwes read a Star Trek book. After about 3 hours of watching over him slowly bleed to death, he took a knife and slit Brandes’ throat.
Once Brandes was dead, Meiwes removed the head and hung the body from a meat hook. He removed the organs and cut the body in half. He placed both halves into the tub and carefully washed the body before butchering and portioning the meat. He then stored the bags of meat in the false bottom of a freezer. The bones were then buried in the garden.
Whenever Meiwes would consume this meat, he used only his finest heirloom china and lit candles. Along side the main course, he would make princess potatoes and brussel sprouts as well as serving a “fine red wine” with the meal.
Before finishing all of the meat of his first victim, Meiwes began looking for another on The Cannibal Cafe. This time, to add legitimacy to his posts in hopes of finding another willing victim, Meiwes mentioned his experience in killing and butchering the human body. Another user read the posts and got a very different feeling from the typical role play style posts on the site, leading to their notifying the police.
December 10, 2002, police raided Meiwes’ estate. When they found the unmarked bags of meat in the false bottom of the freezer, they asked Meiwes what it was. He told them “wild pork”, however, one of the policewomen replied that she cooks a lot and it did not look remotely like pork.
At the time of his arrest, he had already eaten 44 pounds (20kg) of the flesh.
At his pre-trial hearing, Meiwes stated “I always had the fantasy and in the end, I fulfilled it.” He has never denied what he did, but he hasn’t shown traditional remorse. He knows what he did is considered wrong, and he has apologized, but to him it did not feel wrong.
Psychologists have compared him to Jeffrey Dahmer, classifying both men as sexual cannibals, and also officially declaring Meiwes as not mentally ill.
To Meiwes the most intimate act possible is to consume another person. After ingesting Brandes, Meiwes says that he gained skills and proficiencies without trying or know. Brandes was incredibly well-spoken with the English language while Meiwes previously struggled. Since then Meiwes speaks English incredibly well. He also says of Brandes, “Since then, he is always with me.”
The case presented a few different legal dilemmas. Firstly, cannibalism itself is not illegal in Germany. Instead, he was charged with “murder for the purpose of sexual gratification” and “disturbing the peace of the dead.” This presented the second dilemma: the defense argued that Brandes gave full consent with video evidence of this statement. They said that it should not be considered murder, but rather “killing on demand” (also known as euthanasia). This was not accepted by the court.
During the trial, the entire video of that night was played for the jury. All jury members required extensive therapy and mental health care after the trial.
This first trial ended in a manslaughter conviction in 2004, carrying an 8 1/2 year sentence.
In 2006, prosecutors appealed for a retrial questioning if Brandes had legal right to consent to his death. During this second trial, one of Meiwes’ psychologists testified that he still held the cannibalistic fantasies and if released would most likely reoffend. This trial ended in a murder conviction carrying a life sentence.
Since being incarcerated, Meiwes has helped authorities with analysis of a cold case including two brutal mutilations with a suspected cannibalistic angle, one in 1998 and one in 2000. Both murders are thought to be the same offender.
While in prison, it is also said that Meiwes has converted to vegitarianism.