Over the course of more than 20 years, Joachim Kroll murdered 14 people, including very young girls, making him one of the most disturbing German serial killers in the country's history. Not content just to end the lives of his victims, Kroll repeatedly ate the flesh of the people he killed, leading him to be called the Duisburg Man-Eater and the Ruhr Cannibal.
After getting away with murder for more than two decades, Kroll's revolting crimes were finally discovered when law enforcement found him cooking the remains of a young girl in his apartment. Kroll, who was called "Uncle Joachim" by the neighborhood children who adored him, is one of the first known German cannibals and serial killers, eventually joined by infamous German murderers Armin Miewes and Volker Eckert.
Born on April 17, 1933, in Nazi Germany, Joachim Kroll was the youngest of eight children, and his father was a miner who was held as a prisoner of war during World War II. As a child, Kroll was smaller than his peers and frequently wet the bed.
Shortly after his mother passed away in 1955, Kroll, who was 22 at the time, committed his first known murder when he attacked Irmgard Strehl, 19, while the young woman was walking on a street in the village of Walstedde. After strangling the teenager to death with his hands, Kroll subjected her corpse to horrifying acts that became signature aspects of his future killings.
With the murder of Irmgard Strehl, Joachim Kroll began a killing spree that lasted more than 20 years and resulted in the untimely deaths of 13 women and girls. His victims ranged in age from four to 61, although the majority of the people Kroll murdered were young girls who were around 12 years old. As with Strehl, Kroll attacked most of his victims when they were traveling to school or home or walking through parks, wooded areas, and fields.
He killed the majority of the young women and girls by strangling them to death his hands. However, in the case of Petra Giese, he used the 13-year-old’s own scarf to strangle her to death on Easter Sunday in 1962. More than four years later, in December 1966, he killed five-year-old Ilona Harke by holding her head underwater in a stream simply because he wanted to know what it felt like to drown someone. Initially, people thought the child had accidentally fallen into the water and drowned, but an autopsy revealed evidence to indicate five-year-old Harke had been murdered.
In the case of five-year-old Ilona Harke, as well as the majority of Joachim Kroll’s victims, raped the child’s lifeless body after killing her. In fact, most of the women and girls he attacked were either dead or unconscious when he raped them, indicating Kroll was a necrophile who enjoyed having sex with people who could not resist or reject him.
However, while he raped the corpses of his victims, some of whom were very young children, necrophilia wasn’t even the most disturbing act he subjected the girls and women to after their deaths.
After killing his victims, Joachim Kroll often mutilated their corpses, leaving behind particularly bloody and gruesome crime scenes. In the case of his first victim, Irmgard Strehl, after strangling the 19-year-old to death, he used a long-bladed knife to disembowel the teenager, while after he murdered and raped 16-year-old Manuela Knodt in July 1956, he cut pieces of flesh from the teenager’s body.
After mutilating Knodt’s corpse, Kroll masturbated over the 16-year-old’s lifeless and blood-soaked body, leaving large quantities of semen on the girl’s genitals and face. Consequently, officers first assumed Knodt had been killed by several different men, not a single serial killer like Kroll. However, the reason he cut the flesh from the teenager’s body was even more disturbing than the grisly mutilation he perpetrated.