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Flesh and Bone: 8 Gruesome Cases of Cannibalism Throughout History

These cases are not for the faint at heart.


Cannibalism is perhaps the ultimate cultural taboo. Most sane people have never considered eating another human being, but while there are certainly some situations in which eating another person is the only way to survive, there are other, more disturbing tales of when a person goes cannibal for no reason other than to enjoy the delicacy of human flesh. The following cases of cannibalism are not for the faint at heart, read at your own risk.

1. Stella Maris Rugby Team

In a cold October day in 1972, while traveling to Uruguay, the plane carrying a college rugby team crashed on an unidentified mountain between Chile and Argentina. Multiple search parties were dispatched and the team was presumed dead after 11 days of searching.  Miraculously, some members of the team were able to survive for over two months with no heat, food or water. Well, they had some food. The team was forced to eat the bodies of their fellow teammates as they perished next to them. Having regained some strength, two men (Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa pictured above), set off on a 12-day trek through the mountains and finally found help. Of the 45 people on the flight, only 16 survived their ordeal.

2. Chief Udre Udre

cannibalism_ cannibal feast fiji

A re-enactment of a Cannibal Feast in Fiji, 1869. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Fijian Chief Ratu Udre Udre is widely considered to be the most accomplished cannibal in human history. According to reports from his son, the chief ate nothing but human flesh. When he had leftovers, he preserved them for later and never shared with anyone. These bodies were mostly soldiers and prisoners of war, and Udre Udre reportedly kept a stone tally of how many bodies he had consumed. Upon his death, 872 stones were discovered, with some gaps indicating even more bodies were consumed. His exact beliefs on the benefits of cannibalism aren’t exactly clear, but Udre Udre none the less holds the Guinness World Record for “most prolific cannibal”.


3. Reverend Thomas Baker

cannibalism Thomas Baker

Photo: Alchetron

Reverend Baker was one of the missionaries working in the cannibal Isles of Fiji in the 1800s. The situation was a shock to many of the missionaries, men and women would kill and eat other humans, with the main victims being those defeated in battle. Some were even forced to watch as their severed limbs were consumed by their captors. Despite the horrific surroundings, the missionaries were left unharmed. This was the case until Reverend Thomas Baker ventured deeper into Fiji’s largest island with a group of fellow missionaries. The tribe that occupied the area killed and ate his entire team. The tribe then experienced a period of bad crops and mysterious deaths that they attributed to a curse set on them by the Christian God for eating one of his chosen ones. They tried everything to lift the curse, including inviting Baker’s relatives and conducting a traditional forgiveness ceremony.


4. Richard Parker

cannibalism Richard Parker

An illustration depicting the tragedy: Murderpedia

The Mignonette was on its way from England to Australia in 1884 when it began taking on water and sinking. Four of the crew members made it out alive and were floating aboard a 13-foot lifeboat. Nineteen days into the voyage the men began to stir. They were without food and drinkable water and began to suggest cannibalism. Richard Parker was young (only 17), and therefore had no wife or children to go back to. He was also in rough shape, so the other three men decided to kill and eat Parker in order to survive. Five days later the men washed ashore and were eventually convicted of murder and cannibalism. They were later released after the public sympathized with their situation.

5. Alfred Packer

cannibalism alferd packer

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Gold Rush sent many American hopeful prospectors westward in search of riches in the late 1800’s. One such man was named Alfred Packer. Packer and five other prospectors were in Colorado on their gold search, but the situation became peculiar when Packer came into a neighboring camp reporting a storm that had passed. He claimed that his fellow prospectors went in search of food and had yet to return. You can probably tell by the title of this article what really happened to them. Of course, Packer was the one in search of food, and he found some in the flesh of his companions. After living on the run for nine years, police caught up with him and Packer was sentenced to 40 years in prison. He was released in 1901, and while in prison he reportedly made a lifestyle change. He became a vegetarian.


6. Albert Fish

cannibalism albert fish

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Albert Fish was not only a cannibal but a serial killer and child rapist. He was so feared that he is remembered as “The Brooklyn Vampire,” “The Werewolf of Wysteria,” “The Gray Man,” and “The Moon Maniac.” It is reported that Fish perpetrated 100 murders, though only three had direct evidence linking him to the crimes. He specifically targeted and mutilated and murdered mentally-handicapped people, children, and minorities because he felt they would not be missed. After writing a letter to the parents of 10-year-old Gracie Budd, who he kidnapped, murdered and then partially ate, Fish was eventually caught after sending letters to Gracie’s parents telling them of what he had done to their child and was sentenced to death.

7. Andrei Chikatilo

The “Butcher of Rostov” otherwise known as Andrei Chikatilo was a serial killer, rapist, and cannibal who’s killing spree covered areas in Soviet Russia and Ukraine. He admitted to murdering over 50 women and children between 1978 and 1990. After Chikatilo was arrested, policemen noted a disturbing odor emitting from the pores of his skin, which was caused by the rotten human flesh in his digestion. He was executed on February 14, 1994. As a result of the investigation and subsequent trial over 1,000 unrelated crimes including murders and sexual assaults were solved.


8. Alexander Pearce

cannibalism alexander pearce

Drawings, by Thomas Bock, of Alexander Pearce after his execution. Photo: Wikipedia

Alexander Pearce is a mix between a survivor and a true-blue cannibal. After escaping from an Australian prison in the early 19th century, he and eight other escapees were trekking through Tasmania when they realized they didn’t have enough food. Straws were drawn, and Pearce was lucky enough to be among the top two. He killed and ate the other finalist, but was eventually caught and sent back to prison.  He escaped again with another inmate and you guessed it, killed and ate him too. This time he was caught with body parts in his pockets. Alexander Pearce sentenced to death and was hanged at the Hobart Town Gaol at 9:00 A.M. on July 19, 1824. It’s said his last words were “Man’s flesh is delicious. It tastes far better than fish or pork.”

Featured photo of Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa: Wikimedia Commons