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6 More Cannibal Killers

In comparison to the worldwide murder rate, cases of cannibalism are rare, but they stand out because of the horror they instill in the rest of us. In addition to the six cases featured in the post 6 Horrifying Modern Cannibals, I found these six cannibal stories from all over the world.

1. Nikolai Dzhurmongaliev

Nikolai Dzhurmongaliev eventually became known as "the Metal Fang". He worked as a laborer in Alma-Alta in Kazakhstan, which was part of the Soviet Union in 1980, the year a rash of disappearances gripped the town. Dzhurmongaliev was constantly trying to pick up women, many who were never seen again. He threw parties for his friends in which he served generous dishes of meat. Two men who were invited to his home found body parts and alerted authorities. After his arrest, he claimed he had killed many prostitutes, ate their flesh, and also served them cooked to his friends. Authorities linked 47 disappearances to the Metal Fang, and committed him to a mental institution. He escaped during transport in 1989 and was recaptured in 1991. Soviet authorities kept Dzhurmongaliev's two-year adventure a secret to avoid panic.

2. Surender Kohli

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The village of Nithari, Uttar Pradesh, India experienced a rash of disappearing children between 2004 and 2006, with a total of 38 missing. Prominent businessman Moninder Singh Pandher and his house servant Surender Kohli were arrested when the skeletal remains of 17 children were found in a large culvert behind Pandher's home. Local residents found the first evidence and contacted the local welfare agency to investigate because they suspected a police cover up. The servant Kohli confessed to murdering six children and one adult after sexually assaulting them, then eating some victim's livers and other body parts. Village residents protested as police took credit for the investigation, claiming their complaints had been ignored until the bodies were found. Under pressure, two police supervisors were suspended and six officers were fired. Both Pandher and Kohli were convicted of one murder and given death sentences in early 2009. In September, Pandher was acquitted by an appeals court, but may still face charges for other victims. Kohli's conviction was upheld.

3. Alferd Packer

211AlferPackerThe curious case of Alferd Packer is debated to this day. Packer answered the call of the Colorado gold rush in 1873 and set out from Utah with a group of men bound for the Los Pinos Indian Agency in Colorado. A blizzard trapped Packer and five companions and they ran out of supplies. In April of 1874, Packer met up with other travelers that had split from the group before the blizzard. His story changed several times. Packer claimed that his companions were forced by hunger to eat those who had died of exposure, and he was the last survivor. However, Packer had possessions of the deceased men, and when the bodies were found they showed signs of a struggle. Packer then claimed self-defense and later confessed to murder, but escaped before his trial. Captured nine years later, he again confessed and was found guilty of the murder of one man. His death sentence was vacated on a technicality. Packer was tried again in 1886 for the murder of the four others and sentenced to forty years. He was paroled by the governor of Colorado in 1907 and died a free man a few years later.

4. Sergey Gavrilov

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27-year-old Sergey Gavrilov of Samara, Russia murdered his mother because she refused to give him money, assuming he would spent it on vodka and gambling. He then took the money and spent it as she thought he would. On returning to his mother's apartment two days later, he was again out of money and soon ran out of food. The body of 55-year-old Lyubov was out on the balcony, frozen, so Gavrilov removed her legs and cooked them to eat over a month's time. Gavrilov was arrested after the body was found (minus the legs) and convicted in 2009. Gavrilov was sentenced to 15 years in prison, but the judge reduced the sentence by nine months because the convict was starving at the time he decided to eat his mother.

5. Tsutomu Miyazaki

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Tsutomu Miyazaki killed four little girls in Saitama Prefecture, Japan in 1988 and 1989. He also sexually molested their corpses and in at least one case drank blood and ate the hands. The victims were between four and seven years old. Miyazaki also sent taunting letters to the families, going so far as to send ashes and teeth to one victim's parents. He was caught molesting another girl in July of 1989 and arrested. Police found pictures of the victims and body parts in Miyazaki's home. His trial began in 1990, but psychiatric evaluations delayed his sentencing until 1997. Miyazaki's death sentence was appealed until 2006, and he was hanged for his crimes in 2008.

6. Albert Fish

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Albert Fish was a house painter with strange sexual appetites in New York City. In 1928, he answered a classified ad placed by the family of 18-year-old Edward Budd, who was looking for a job. Fish was attracted to Edward, but decided his 10-year-old sister Grace would be an easier victim. Fish, who went under the name Frank Howard at the time, offered to take Grace to a birthday party, from which she never returned. Six years later, Fish sent a horrifying letter to the Budd family explaining that he kidnapped the little girl in order to eat her flesh, which he did over a period of nine days. Police traced the stationery used in the letter to the boarding house Fish had recently left, and arrested him when he returned for his mail. Fish confessed to the murder of Grace Budd and also that of 4-year-old Billy Gaffney in 1927. Fish pleaded insanity and relied on his cannibalism and sexual perversions to prove his instability, but a jury found him guilty in 1935. He later confessed to murdering 8-year-old Francis McDonnell in 1924. Fish is also suspected in several other missing child cases. Hamilton Albert Fish was executed by electric chair on January 16, 1936.

See also: 6 Horrifying Modern Cannibals.

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Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California
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The Concept of the American 'Backyard' is Newer Than You Think
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
A home in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington Library in San Marino, California

Backyards are as American as apple pie and baseball. If you live in a suburban or rural area, chances are good that you have a lawn, and maybe a pool, some patio furniture, and a grill to boot.

This wasn’t always the case, though. As Smithsonian Insider reports, it wasn’t until the 1950s that Americans began to consider the backyard an extension of the home, as well as a space for recreation and relaxation. After World War II, Americans started leaving the big cities and moving to suburban homes that came equipped with private backyards. Then, after the 40-hour work week was implemented and wages started to increase, families started spending more money on patios, pools, and well-kept lawns, which became a “symbol of prosperity” in the 1950s, according to a new Smithsonian Institution exhibit.

A man mows his lawn in the 1950s
In this photo from the Smithsonian Institution's exhibit, a man mows his lawn in Long Beach, California, in the 1950s.
Maynard L. Parker/Courtesy of The Huntington
Library in San Marino, California

Entitled "Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Back Yard," the exhibition includes photographs, advertisements, and articles about backyards from the 1950s and 1960s. The traveling display is currently on view at the Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas, and from there it will head to Hartford, Connecticut, in December.

Prior to the 1950s, outdoor yards were primarily workspaces, MLive.com reports. Some families may have had a vegetable garden, but most yards were used to store tools, livestock, and other basic necessities.

The rise of the backyard was largely fueled by materials that were already on hand, but hadn’t been accessible to the average American during World War II. As Smithsonian Insider notes, companies that had manufactured aluminum and concrete for wartime efforts later switched to swimming pools, patio furniture, and even grilling utensils.

A family eats at a picnic table in the 1960s
A family in Mendham, New Jersey, in the 1960s
Molly Adams/Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection

At the same time, DIY projects started to come into fashion. According to an exhibit caption of a Popular Mechanics article from the 1950s, “‘Doing-it-yourself’ was advertised as an enjoyable and affordable way for families to individualize their suburban homes.” The magazine wrote at the time that “patios, eating areas, places for play and relaxation are transforming back yards throughout the nation.”

The American backyard continues to grow to this day. As Bloomberg notes, data shows that the average backyard grew three years in a row, from 2015 to 2017. The average home last year had 7048 square feet of outdoor space—plenty of room for a sizable Memorial Day cookout.

[h/t Smithsonian Insider]

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15 Fascinating Facts About the Brooklyn Bridge
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Don't agree to buy it, but you can never know too much about the most famous way to get across the East River—which officially opened 135 years ago, on May 24, 1883.

1. THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE NEEDED A LITTLE BRIBERY TO GET STARTED.

In its initial conception, the Brooklyn Bridge had an honorable goal: Providing safe passage across the rough and frigid East River for Brooklyn residents who worked in Manhattan. In the 1850s, Prussian-born engineer John Augustus Roebling dreamed of a suspension bridge that would make the commute easier for these working class New Yorkers.

However, the methods employed to get the project rolling weren’t quite as honorable. After Roebling was hired by the New York Bridge Company to help span the river, infamous political kingpin William “Boss” Tweed funneled $65,000 in bribes to city aldermen to secure funding for the bridge.

2. THE BRIDGE HAS GONE BY SEVERAL NAMES.

“Brooklyn Bridge” seems like a natural handle for the hybrid suspension and cable-stayed bridge connecting lower Manhattan to its neighbor across the East River, but the name evolved over time. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle first referred to the project as the “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1867, but in its early days it was still referred to as the “Great East River Bridge” as well as the “Great East River Suspension Bridge." At its 1883 dedication, it took on the clunky official name the “New York and Brooklyn Bridge.” (Brooklyn wouldn’t become a part of New York City until 1898.) Brooklyn civic pride led to the name officially changing to the “Brooklyn Bridge” in 1915.

3. ROEBLING PAID A HIGH PRICE FOR THE BRIDGE.

The Brooklyn Bridge was Roebling’s brainchild, but he wouldn’t live to see its completion. While making measurements for the future bridge in 1869, a ferry crushed Roebling’s foot. The engineer developed tetanus as a result of these wounds and passed away in July 1869.

4. ROEBLING’S SON TOOK HIS PLACE AND HAD EQUALLY BAD LUCK.

After Roebling’s death, his son Washington Augustus Roebling stepped in as the bridge project’s chief engineer. The younger Roebling soon developed a problem of his own. To build the structure’s massive foundation, workers labored in caissons, sealed chambers that kept the riverbed dry and allowed for digging. Breathing and working deep in the caissons required compressed air, which meant workers who came up from the depths were vulnerable to “caisson disease,” better known today as the bends. In 1872, Roebling came down with this decompression sickness and was confined to bed.

5. THE PROJECT BECAME AN EARLY FEMINIST VICTORY.

After Washington Roebling fell ill, a third Roebling stepped in as the de facto chief engineer of the bridge, his wife, Emily Warren Roebling. Although Emily began her tenure running orders between her husband, who was laid up in a Brooklyn Heights apartment with a view of construction, and his workers, she soon took bona fide command of the project, overseeing the design, construction, and business management of the tremendous undertaking. Emily Warren Roebling is now widely recognized as a pioneering female engineer and a driving force behind the bridge. Following her work on the bridge, Emily went on to earn a degree in law from New York University and published essays in favor of gender equality.

6. A ROOSTER MADE THE FIRST TRIP ACROSS THE BRIDGE.

Technically, the rooster was tied for first. Emily Warren Roebling earned the honor of being the first human to make the trip across the historic bridge, riding proudly in a carriage a week before its official opening in front of an audience that included President Chester A. Arthur. Sitting in Emily’s lap all the while was a rooster, a symbol of good luck.

7. THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE WAS THE WORLD’S FIRST STEEL-WIRE SUSPENSION BRIDGE.

John Augustus Roebling himself is credited with introducing the steel-wire innovation into bridge design. The engineer proudly referred to steel as “the metal of the future.”

8. A SNEAKY CONTRACTOR INTRODUCED LOW-QUALITY WIRE INTO THE MIX.

Construction materials were accumulated under the watch of John Augustus Roebling, who failed to notice that he had been swindled on his cable wire. Contractor J. Lloyd Haigh snuck a substantial amount of inferior, even faulty, wire into the mix. The flaw went unrecognized until after the wires were incorporated into the standing bridge, at which point replacing them was impossible. Instead, the construction team doubled down on its security measures, introducing far more wire than calculations deemed necessary while working desperately to keep the discovery from reaching the public. For his part, Haigh escaped prosecution for this crime, but was arrested and convicted for forgery in an unrelated case. 

9. THE BRIDGE WAS THE SITE OF A STAMPEDE SOON AFTER OPENING.

The Brooklyn Bridge opened to the public on May 24, 1883 and enjoyed a fairly harmonious first five days in operation. On May 30, however, disaster struck when either a woman tripping or a rumor of a pending collapse sparked a panic among the massive crowd of pedestrians crossing the bridge. The mob’s frantic race to escape the bridge resulted in the deaths of 12 people and serious injuries to 36 more.

10. TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS WALKED ACROSS THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE IN 1884.

How do you convince one of America’s busiest cities that its newest bridge can offer safe transport to its many commuters? Elephants. Since the most common haven for trained elephants in the 1880s was a circus tent, the city called upon entrepreneurial showman P.T. Barnum to march 21 elephants across the Brooklyn Bridge in May of 1884 to show just how sturdy the span was.

11. COMPARTMENTS IN THE BRIDGE WERE USED FOR STORING WINE.

If you think a nice glass of wine would be the perfect companion for a moonlit stroll across a river, this is the bridge for you. Engineers built sizeable vaults that were up to 50 feet tall into the bridge beneath its anchorages. Thanks to their cool temperatures, these granite-walled storage spaces made the perfect wine cellars, and they were rented out to the public until World War I. The company A. Smith & Co. Productions forked over $500 a month as rent for the Brooklyn-side vaults, while the liquor distributor Luyties Brothers paid a pretty $5000 for the prime real estate beneath the Manhattan anchorage.

12. ANOTHER COMPARTMENT WAS TURNED INTO A FALLOUT SHELTER.

At some point during the Cold War, one of the bridge’s compartments transformed into a survival shelter stocked with food and water rations and medical supplies. After fading into obscurity after the close of the Cold War, this fallout shelter was rediscovered in 2006 during a routine structural inspection of the bridge.

13. NOBODY CAN FIGURE OUT EXACTLY WHAT COLOR THE BRIDGE WAS.

Upon the announcement of a plan to repaint the Brooklyn Bridge in 2010, controversy erupted over the landmark’s original color. Some historians insisted that the young suspension bridge wore a proud buff color, renamed “Brooklyn Bridge Tan” for the modern makeover. (The option of “Queensborough Tan” drew groans.) On the other side of the battle, old documents and hand-colored lithographs supported the argument that the icon’s original color was “Rawlins Red,” a hue derived from the iron-oxide from the eponymous mountain town of southern Wyoming. In the end, Brooklyn Bridge Tan won out.

14. THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE STANDS WHERE GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT.

The Manhattan anchorage of the Brooklyn Bridge features a bronze plaque commemorating the land below as the former location of the country’s first presidential mansion. Known alternatively as the Samuel Osgood House and the Walter Franklin House, the Lower Manhattan mansion served as the home of George Washington during his first ten months as America’s Commander-in-Chief. The residence stood at the intersection of Cherry Street and Pearl Street for 85 years before its demolition in 1856.

15. THE BROOKLYN BRIDGE WAS THE LONGEST IN THE WORLD FOR 20 YEARS.

Just two years before starting work on his New York project, John Augustus Roebling made a bit of suspension bridge history with the humbly named John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge, which spanned 1057 feet over the Ohio River between Covington, Ky. and Cincinnati. Roebling put that endeavor to shame with the Brooklyn Bridge, which bested its predecessor’s principal span by about 50 percent. Boasting a main span of 1595 feet and a total measurement of 5,989 feet, the Brooklyn Bridge held the superlative of longest suspension bridge in the world for two decades. When it finally lost the title in 1903, its successor was none other than its fellow East River crossing the Williamsburg Bridge. The latter’s main span bested the Brooklyn Bridge’s by only four and a half feet, though its total length reached 7308 feet.

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