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6 More Cannibal Killers

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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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Getty Images (Johnson) / iStock (ghosts)
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History
When Lexicographer Samuel Johnson Became a Ghostbuster
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Getty Images (Johnson) / iStock (ghosts)

Dr. Samuel Johnson is today best known for his Dictionary of the English Language (1755), which remained the foremost authority on the English language until the Oxford English Dictionary appeared more than a century later. The dictionary took Johnson nine years to complete, for which he was paid the princely sum of 1500 guineas—equivalent to $300,000 (or £210,000) today. Although it wasn’t quite the commercial success its publishers hoped it would be, it allowed Johnson the freedom to explore his own interests and endeavors: He spent several years editing and annotating his own editions of all of Shakespeare’s plays, and traveled extensively around Britain with his friend (and eventual biographer) James Boswell—and, in 1762, helped to investigate a haunted house.

Johnson—who was born on this day in 1709 and is the subject of today's Google Doodle—had a lifelong interest in the paranormal, once commenting that he thought it was “wonderful” that it was still “undecided whether or not there has ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it, but all belief is for it.” According to Boswell, however, he was more of a skeptic than an out-and-out believer, and refused to accept anything without seeing the evidence for himself. So when the news broke of an apparently haunted house just a few streets away from his own home in central London, Johnson jumped at the chance to perhaps see a ghost with his own eyes.

The haunting began in the early 1760s, when a young couple, William and Fanny Kent, began renting a room from a local landlord, Richard (or William—sources disagree, but for clarity, we'll use Richard) Parsons, at 25 Cock Lane in Smithfield, London. Soon after the Kents moved in, Richard’s daughter, Betty, began to hear strange knocking and scratching sounds all around the house, and eventually claimed to have seen a ghost in her bedroom.

Richard soon discovered that William was a widower and that Fanny was in fact his deceased wife's sister; under canon law, the pair couldn't be married, and Richard became convinced that the ghost must be that of William's deceased first wife, Elizabeth, blaming William’s presence in the house for all of the strange occurrences. He promptly evicted the Kents and the noises soon subsided—but when Fanny also died just a few weeks later, they immediately resumed and again seemed to center around Betty. In desperation, a series of séances were held at the Cock Lane house, and finally Fanny’s ghost supposedly confirmed her presence by knocking on the table. When questioned, Fanny claimed that William had killed her by poisoning her food with arsenic—an accusation William understandably denied.

By now, news of the Cock Lane Ghost had spread all across the city, and when the story broke in the press, dozens of curious Londoners began turning up at the house, queuing for hours outside in the street hoping to see any sign of supernatural activity. According to some accounts, Parsons even charged visitors to come in and “talk” to the ghost, who would communicate with knocks and other disembodied noises.

But with the suspicion of murder now in the air, the Cock Lane haunting changed from a local curiosity into a full-blown criminal investigation. A committee was formed to examine the case, and Johnson was brought in to record their findings and investigate the case for himself.

On February 1, 1762, one final séance was held with all members of the committee—Johnson included—in attendance. He recorded that:

About 10 at night the gentlemen met in the chamber in which the girl [Betty] supposed to be disturbed by a spirit had, with proper caution, been put to bed by several ladies. They sat rather more than an hour, and hearing nothing, went down stairs, when they interrogated the father of the girl, who denied, in the strongest terms, any knowledge or belief of fraud … While they were enquiring and deliberating, they were summoned into the girl’s chamber by some ladies who were near her bed, and who had heard knocks and scratches. When the gentlemen entered, the girl declared that she felt the spirit like a mouse upon her back.

But the committee were suspicious. Betty was asked to hold out her hands in front of her, in sight of everyone in the room:

From that time—though the spirit was very solemnly required to manifest its existence by appearance, by impression on the hand or body of any present, by scratches, knocks, or any other agency—no evidence of any preternatural power was exhibited.

Johnson ultimately concluded that it was “the opinion of the whole assembly that the child has some art of making or counterfeiting a particular noise, and that there is no agency of any higher cause.” And he was right.

As the investigation continued, it was eventually discovered that Richard Parsons had earlier borrowed a considerable amount of money from William Kent that he had no means (nor apparently any intention) of repaying. The two men had a falling out, and Parsons set about elaborately framing Kent for both Fanny and Elizabeth's deaths. The ghostly scratching and knocking noises had all been Betty’s work; she hidden a small wooden board into the hem of her clothing with which to tap or scratch on the walls or furniture when prompted.

The Parsons—along with a servant and a preacher, who were also in on the scam—were all prosecuted, and Richard was sentenced to two years in prison.

Although the Cock Lane haunting turned out to be a hoax, Johnson remained open minded about the supernatural. “If a form should appear,” he later told Boswell, “and a voice tell me that a particular man had died at a particular place, and a particular hour, a fact which I had no apprehension of, nor any means of knowing, and this fact, with all its circumstances, should afterwards be unquestionably proved, I should, in that case, be persuaded that I had supernatural intelligence imparted to me.”

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The King of Kong © Jim Naughten. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery
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geography
The Mountains of Kong: The Majestic West African Range That Never Existed
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The King of Kong © Jim Naughten. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

If you look closely at a 19th century map of Africa, you’ll notice one major way that it differs from contemporary maps, one that has nothing to do with changing political or cartographical styles. More likely than not, it features a mountain range that no longer appears on modern maps, as WIRED explains. Because it never existed in the first place.

A 19th century map of West Africa
From Milner's Descriptive Atlas, 1850

The “Mountains of Kong” appeared on almost every major commercial map of Africa in the 1800s, stretching across the western part of the continent between the Gulf of Guinea and the Niger River. This mythical east-west mountain range is now the subject of an art exhibition at London’s Michael Hoppen Gallery.

In "Mountains of Kong," stereoscopic images by artist Jim Naughten—the same format that allowed Victorians with wanderlust to feel like they’d seen the world—reveal his view of the world of wildlife that might have existed inside the imagined mountains. As the gallery describes it, “he imagines a fictitious record made for posterity and scientific purposes during an expedition of the mountain range.” We’ve reproduced the images here, but to get the full effect, you’ll have to go to the gallery in person, where you can view them in 3D with a stereoscope (like the ones you no doubt played with as a kid).

Toucans fight a snake in two almost-identical side-by-side images.
The Toucans © Jim Naughten. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

Naughten created the images by taking two photographs for each, and moving the camera over some 3 inches for the second photo to make a stereoscopic scene. The landscapes were created by shooting images of Scottish and Welsh mountains and dioramas in natural history museums, using Photoshop to change the hues of the images to make them seem more otherworldly. His blue-and-pink-hued images depict fearsome apes, toucans sparring with snakes, jagged peaks, and other scenes that seem both plausible and fantastical at the same time.

The Mountains of Kong appeared in several hundred maps up until the 20th century. The first, in 1798, was created by the prominent geographer James Rennell to accompany a book by Scottish explorer Mungo Park about his first journey to West Africa. In it, Park recounts gazing on a distant range, and “people informed me, that these mountains were situated in a large and powerful kingdom called Kong.” Rennell, in turn, took this brief observation and, based on his own theories about the course of the Niger River, drew a map showing the mountain range that he thought was the source of the river. Even explorers who later spent time in the area believed the mountains existed—with some even claiming that they crossed them.

Two colobuses stand in a tree on a mountaintop.
The Colobus © Jim Naughten. Courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

The authority of the maps wasn’t questioned, even by those who had been to the actual territory where they were depicted as standing. Writers began to describe them as “lofty,” “barren,” and “snow-covered.” Some said they were rugged granite peaks; others described them as limestone terraces. In almost all cases, they were described as “blue.” Their elevation ranged from 2500 feet to 14,000 feet, depending on the source. Over the course of the 19th century, “there was a general southward ‘drift’ in the location,” as one pair of scholars put it.

Though geographers cast some doubt on the range’s existence as time went on, the Mountains of Kong continued to appear on maps until French explorer Louis-Gustave Binger’s Niger River expedition between 1887 and 1889, after which Binger definitively declared their nonexistence.

By 1891, the Mountains of Kong began dropping off of maps, though the name Kong still appeared as the name of the region. By the early 20th century, the mountains were gone for good, fading into the forgotten annals of cartographic history.

[h/t WIRED]

All images courtesy Michael Hoppen Gallery.

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