German police began digging up swathes of frozen ground outside a remote guest house south of Dresden on Sunday in a hunt for the body parts of a 59-year-old man murdered and allegedly eaten by a self-confessed killer nicknamed Germany’s “cannibal detective”.
The grisly murder, uncovered late last week, has raised questions about lurid internet forums which appear designed for people obsessed with the idea of cannibalism as a means of sexual gratification. Police say the site played a pivotal role in the killing.
The case involves a gay 55-year-old police detective from Dresden identified only as Detlev G. Last week he admitted killing a 59-year-old director of a management consultancy firm by slitting his throat with a carving knife.
He said he had met his victim through an internet chat room which police say claims to be “the number one website for exotic meat” and has 3,000 registered users.
Police said their investigations had revealed that since his youth, the murder victim, who travelled from Hanover to meet his killer, had a secret desire to be killed and eaten.
“The case shows how easy it is for people with the most gruesome fantasies to meet up on the internet,” said Dieter Kroll, Dresden’s police chief.
However, although police strongly suspect that he ate parts of his victim, Detlev G has so far only confessed to murder and has denied charges of cannibalism. Andreas Feron, the state prosecutor, said on Sunday that the killer had also denied that the murder was “sexually motivated”.
But Detlev G also admitted spending several hours dismembering his victim and burying the parts in open ground outside his guest house in the remote Gimmlitztal valley in the Erzgebirge mountains south of Dresden.
Police say the recovered body parts are the essential element which will reveal whether or not Detlev G is guilty of cannibalism.
All that police have been able to establish so far is that on the afternoon of 4 November, Detlev G led his chatroom acquaintance into the cellar of his guest house, pulled out a carving knife and slit his victim’s throat. He then spent the next four hours dismembering the body and burying it.
The case echoes the macabre 2001 murder carried out by Armin Meiwes, “the cannibal of Rothenburg” who killed, dismembered and, cooked and ate parts of Bernd Brandes, a computer programmer he met through an online sex fantasy forum.
Meiwes was sentenced to life imprisonment by a German court in 2006. During his trial he admitted to having received numerous enquires from people who wanted to realise their fantasy of being killed and eaten by their murderer. All but one backed down at the last minute.
If evidence of cannibalism is not found, Detlev G could escape with a conviction for “requested manslaughter”, an offence which carries a maximum sentence of five years.