A little over 10 years ago, German computer programmer Armin Meiwes (right) posted an advertisement on the Internet.
The post stated that he was “looking for a well-built man, 18 to 30-years old, to be slaughtered and then consumed”. Bernd Jurgen Brandes (below, left) answered the ad.
On March 9th, 2001, the two men met at Meiwes’s isolated farmhouse in Rotenburg. There the men made a pact. Meiwes would cut off parts of Brandes’s body for Meiwes’s consumption, while Brandes was still conscious. It was agreed they would film the entire episode.
Eventually, after Brandes consumed 20 sleeping pills and a significant amount of Schnapps, the two men prepared to cannibalize. They started with Brandes’s penis.
Brandes insisted that Meiwes attempt to bite Brandes’s penis off. This proved to be a difficult task, so Meiwes used a kitchen knife to complete the severing.
Harald Ermel, Meiwes’s lawyer, told 60 Minutes, “[Brandes] wanted to experience pain that was so bad it would kill him – pain that would destroy him. Obviously, he yelled. He was standing at the table and he sprang backwards. The blood was spurting out, and after 30 seconds, he stopped yelling, and said, ‘It doesn’t hurt any more.’”
Brandes apparently tried to eat some of his own penis raw, but could not because it was too tough and, as he put it in the video, “chewy”. Meiwes fried the penis in a pan with salt, pepper, wine and garlic. He then fried it with some of Brandes’s fat, but by then it was too burned to be consumed. He chopped it up into chunks and fed it to his dog.
However, the wound wasn’t enough to kill Brandes, and Meiwes hesitated over what to do next. He read a Star Trek adventure book for three hours while Brandes lay bleeding in the bath. (Meiwes’s bathtub, right.)
In an interview from his jail cell, Meiwes said, “At that moment, I didn’t know what to do. I asked myself whether I should pray to the Devil, or God? And I asked God for forgiveness. Then I took the knife, grasped it in my hand, and after hesitating some more, I cut his throat with it. Then in the slaughter room, after he was dead, I separated the head from his body [by slicing away the neck muscle and twisting the head off where the spinal cord met the skull]. I hung him from the ceiling. Then I removed his organs and cut him in half. I poured hot water over the two halves and washed the body.”
He videotaped the entire thing.
After preparing his meal and pouring himself a glass of fine red wine, Meiwes began to eat. “The first bite was, of course, very strange,” he said. “It was a feeling I can’t really describe. I’d spent over 40 years, 30 years longing for it, dreaming about it, and now I was getting the feeling that I was actually achieving this perfect inner connection through his flesh,” he said. (Meiwes’s dining room, below left.)
“Flesh tastes like pork, but stronger,” Meiwes continued, “more substantial, although I don’t think that other people would have noticed a difference, had they eaten it. It tasted really good.”
Over a period of months, he consumed more than 40 pounds of Brandes’s flesh. He also tried to make flour from grinding his bones. All the while, Meiwes continued searching the Internet for more willing victims. Eventually, in December 2002, a young Austrian student became suspicious and alerted authorities. Five months later, dozens of police swooped on Meiwes’s farmhouse to search the property. They found 15 pounds of meat in the freezer (below right) underneath some pizza boxes.
“What kind of meat do you have in the fridge?” a policewoman asked Meiwes.
“This is just normal meat, animal meat,” he responded.
“You know, I’m a housewife,” she said. “I know this is not normal meat.”
The case posed a legal dilemma. There is no German law against cannibalism and Brandes was clearly a willing victim. Meiwes was initially convicted of manslaughter in 2004 and sentenced to only 8.5 years in prison. But a retrial in 2005 convicted him of murder and he was sentenced to life in jail.
“Today I know that what I did was wrong. That this can never be the right way,” Meiwes said in his 60 Minutes interview. “The wishes, the fantasies you have, that these can never ever be fulfilled. And everything that you dream about will only ever remain a dream.”
During the raid of his farmhouse, police also found the videotape of the killing. It was so shocking that they have locked it away, never to be released.