The Upsetting Story Of Joe 'The Cannibal' Metheny, Who Allegedly Sold His Victims As Burgers

In 1996, Joseph Roy Metheny made headlines when he was charged for multiple murders and admitted to cooking his victims' flesh, earning him the nickname “The Cannibal.” Metheny was reportedly polite, intelligent, and formidable, standing at 6'1" and weighing 450lb. He had been tried for murder before but managed to avoid prison time.

After being arrested again in late 1996, he was given one life sentence and the death penalty for his crimes. Metheny ultimately died in his prison cell on August 5, 2017.

While Metheny's true number of victims is unclear - due in part to his own unreliable testimony - he remains one of the most notorious serial killers of the 1990s.

  • Metheny Claimed He Had A Harsh Childhood, Which His Mother Denies

    Joe Metheny was born on March 2, 1954, in Baltimore, MD, where he ultimately lived most of his life. His father died in a car crash when Metheny was only 6, and he claimed his mother worked all the time, often sending him to live with other families. Metheny's mother, however, disputed these claims, saying, “If he was neglected, it was his own fault.” Metheny also told people his mother was dead, which was not true.

    In early adulthood, Metheny joined the military and claimed he served in Vietnam, which led to a severe drug addiction; however, military records indicated he only served in Germany for a brief time in 1973. His mother also denied that he had served in Vietnam, though she blamed many of Metheny's problems on drugs.

  • The Exact Start Of Metheny's Killing Spree Is Unclear

    It's hard to tell fact from fiction in Metheny's confession. Some news reports stated his first killing took place in 1994, while he claimed his killing spree actually started in 1976. Furthermore, the number of victims he admitted to killing fluctuated over the years. His known body count stands at 10, but there may be more if all of his confessions are to be believed.

    For instance, Metheny claimed that in 1995, he murdered five people within the span of seven hours, but a lack of evidence led to confusion as to whether or not Metheny did commit all of those murders in such a short time span.

  • In 1994, Metheny Murdered Catherine Magaziner

    The first murder officially tied to Metheny was that of 39-year-old Catherine Magaziner. Magaziner was a sex worker in South Baltimore who reportedly had a drug addiction. In 1996, Metheny confessed to murdering Magaziner and burying her at the worksite where he was a forklift driver.

    About six months later, he exhumed Magaziner's body and removed the head. He buried the torso in a different grave, then placed the head in a box before discarding it in the trash.

    After his arrest two years later, Metheny showed police where to find Magaziner's body, and her skull was found with the help of dental records.

  • In 1995, Metheny Took Out Two Men With An Axe

    In 1995, Metheny was living with his girlfriend and their 6-year-old son in South Baltimore; however, he worked as a truck driver, so he was on the road for long stints of time. One day, he came home and realized his girlfriend had abandoned him and taken their child.

    Metheny was reportedly searching for his girlfriend when he came upon two unhoused men, Randall Brewer and Randy Piker, in a tent city. Metheny had also been unhoused in the past, and the men had had disagreements. Metheny apparently became so enraged, he killed and dismembered both men with an axe. Their bodies were found on August 2, 1995.

  • Metheny Spent A Year And A Half In Prison For The Men's Murder Before Killing Again

    After Brewer and Piker's bodies were found, Metheny was arrested for their murder. After being denied bail, he spent a year and a half in the Baltimore County Jail while awaiting trial. When Metheny's case finally went to trial in the summer of 1996, the jury found him not guilty due to lack of evidence.

    Upon his release, Metheny began killing sex workers and selling human flesh as food before he was apprehended in December 1996, just five months after he'd been set free.

  • After Killing Kimberly Spicer, Metheny Stashed Parts Of Her Body Under Some Wooden Pallets

    When Metheny killed 23-year-old Kimberly Spicer in November 1996, she had been making a living as a sex worker in South Baltimore. Metheny was driving a forklift for a company that made wooden pallets and was living in a small trailer located near his employer.

    One night, Metheny brought Spicer to his trailer, where he killed her, dismembered her body, and discarded parts of it under some wooden pallets at his work.

    Spicer's mother later said she “had her problems, but she was a battler, always struggling with her problems and hoping to turn the corner.”