Horrific True Stories of Cannibalism

Female eating bones

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclaimer.

Throughout history, instances of cannibalism have been documented in various cultural, societal, and survival contexts, often with eerie connections to Halloween’s themes. From ancient tribes practicing ritualistic acts to infamous criminals driven by their insatiable appetites for violence and flesh, the motivations behind these gruesome acts are diverse and unsettling. Archaeological findings have uncovered evidence of early humans engaging in cannibalistic practices, possibly rooted in spiritual beliefs or an attempt to absorb the strength of the deceased.

In more recent times, modern forensic technology has exposed the horrors of serial killers who preyed upon innocent victims, leaving behind a trail of devastation that continues to haunt societies, akin to ghostly apparitions on Halloween night. As we explore these bone-chilling tales of real-life cannibals, it’s crucial to approach the subject with respect for the victims and their families, seeking to understand the complex factors that drive individuals to commit such unimaginable acts of savagery during this season of ghouls and goblins.

Alexander Pearce

Pie man depiction
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Alexander Pearce, an Irish convict, escaped from a penal colony in Australia in 1824 with seven other prisoners, but they became lost in the harsh wilderness. As desperation set in, they were forced to eat each other one by one. After 100 days, Pearce was captured alone and confessed to his crimes. His shocking actions earned him the infamous nickname “The Pieman.”

Armin Meiwes

closeup of a scary disfigured man with a bloody amputated finger emerging from his mouth
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Known as the “Rotenburg Cannibal,” Armin Meiwes was a German man who gained international notoriety for his online advertisement in 2001 seeking a willing volunteer to be killed and eaten. Shockingly, Bernd Brandes answered the ad, and the two engaged in acts of consensual cannibalism. Meiwes filmed the entire event and was later convicted of manslaughter after storing the leftovers in the freezer for 20 months.

The Donner Party

Donner Pass
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Donner Party is one of the most famous cases of cannibalism in American history. In 1846, a group of pioneers set out for California in a wagon train. However, a freak October snowstorm forced them to take shelter in the Sierra Nevada mountains. As their food supplies dwindled, the members of the Donner Party began to turn on each other. They ate the bodies of those who died of natural causes, but in at least one case, two Native American guides were deliberately killed and eaten.

The Siege of Leningrad

reenactment of combat between Soviet and Nazi troops
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

During World War II, the residents of Leningrad endured a horrific siege by German forces. As supplies dwindled, reports of cannibalism emerged. Starving citizens resorted to consuming human flesh, leading to unimaginable atrocities during this brutal period. Two thousand one hundred-five cannibals were arrested by the end of the siege and divided into two legal categories: corpse-eating (trupoyedstvo) and person-eating (lyudoyedstvo). Corpse-eaters went to prison; people eaters were shot.

Issei Sagawa

hand using steel chopsticks holding grilled pork slice on korean
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Issei Sagawa, The Kobe Cannibal, was a Japanese man who murdered and cannibalized a Dutch woman named Renée Hartevelt in Paris in 1981. Sagawa was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial if France and was subsequently institutionalized and deported to Japan. In Japan, he was found mentally competent and released from the asylum, but the charges couldn’t be refiled due to a legal technicality. Sagawa remained a free man until he died in 2022 at the age of 73.

The Andes Flight 571

Plane wreck in wilderness
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

In 1972, a Uruguayan rugby team’s plane crashed in the Andes mountains. The survivors were stranded on the mountain for 72 days, and they were forced to eat the flesh of their dead teammates in order to survive. The story of the Andes Flight 571 is a harrowing one, but it is also a story of survival and hope.

The Sawney Bean Clan (15th-16th century)

Woman in the dark cave with flaslight. back view.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

In the Scottish folklore, the Sawney Bean Clan was said to be a family of cannibals who lived in a hidden cave in the 15th and 16th centuries. Over the years, they allegedly killed and ate hundreds of unsuspecting travelers. While the veracity of this story is debated, it has endured as a chilling tale of cannibalistic horror.

Jeffrey Dahmer

Image of Jeffery Dahmer from TV show
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Perhaps the most well-known case of cannibalism, Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, terrorized the United States in the late 20th century. Dahmer was responsible for the murder, dismemberment, and consumption of at least 17 young men between 1978 and 1991.

Final Cut on Chilling Real Life Cannibals

Female eating heart
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The grim narratives of real-life cannibals present us with a sobering reminder of the dark potential within humanity. These chilling tales unveil the depths of human depravity, illustrating the thin line that separates civilization from utter barbarism. Exploring the motivations behind such horrific acts, whether driven by cultural traditions, survival instincts, or sinister psychological impulses, can help us grasp the complexities of human behavior. Moreover, by shedding light on these shocking tales, we are compelled to acknowledge the importance of fostering empathy, understanding, and a just society that safeguards against the proliferation of violence.

As we reflect on these unnerving accounts, may they serve as a call for continued vigilance against the forces that push individuals towards such atrocities, and as a reminder of the collective responsibility we bear to cultivate compassion and preserve the sanctity of human life.

Read More From Coleman Concierge:

Suwannee River State Park
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

What is a campout without a good true scary story? Like most scary stories, these are grounded in history. While there are no known fabrications, the absolute truth may have been weaved with a little innuendo, but nothing we have are presented is pure fiction or fabrication. These are real scary stories of the Suwannee.

True Scary Stories of the Suwannee

Cheap Vacations for Couples:

Vacation couple in convertable via Deposit Photos
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

There are many reasons for couples to take cheap vacations. You may be on a budget and trying to retire early or want to balance expenses on a trip between luxury stays and heart-pounding adventures. Most importantly, you shouldn’t sacrifice your fun just because you’re looking for low budget vacation ideas.

56 Cheap Vacations for Couples to Swoon Over

San Francisco Walking Tours – Self Guided Routes You’re Going to Love

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge
Photo Credit: Ed Coleman.

San Francisco is considered one of America’s greatest cities. We’ve designed 5 self-guided San Francisco walking tour routes that are not just easy to follow, they take you to all of the famous sites in one full and photogenic day. What’s more, these tours are 100% designed around public transportation!

San Francisco Walking Tours – Self Guided Routes You’re Going to Love

Ultimate Guide to the Boston Freedom Trail

Boston Freedom Trail
Photo Credit: Jenn Coleman.

Our Boston Freedom Trail guide and map includes all 16-historic stops along its 2.5-mile route through Boston. We’ll give you the tools and tips to take a free walking tour. View our interactive map in Google Maps and follow along as history comes to life. This map is a must-have if you’re planning on walking the Freedom Trail.


Co-Founders and Content Creators at | Website
Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman aka Coleman Concierge. In a nutshell, we are a Huntsville-based Gen X couple sharing our stories of amazing adventures through activity-driven transformational and experiential travel.



Newsletter Signup


Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Meet Ed & Jenn

Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman, and together we are Coleman Concierge. It is our goal to inspire you to get out, expand your world, and to seek adventure, even in your own backyard.

We deeply believe in the transformational power of travel. Our tagline is amazing adventures for ordinary people because we believe that you don’t have to be super rich, super fit or super anything to have an amazing adventure. Expanding your comfort zone and trying new things will pay huge dividends in both health and happiness.

We advocate for sustainable and ethical travel and truly believe in the power of travel to transform both ourselves as well as the world around us.


Get our latest travel tips and posts straight to your inbox and start planning your next adventure.

Newsletter Signup

Proud Media Members of:

North American Travel Journalists Association

Adventure Travel Trade Association

International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association

Society of American Travel Writers

Impact Travel Alliance

Your Journey Begins Today

Get our latest travel tips and posts straight to your inbox and start planning your next adventure.

Newsletter Signup