The Strange And Shocking Case Of Joachim Kroll, The Duisburg Man-Eater

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.

  • He Murdered His First Known Victim Shortly After His Mother Died

    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.

  • He Murdered At Least 13 Women And Girls

    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.

  • He Committed Necrophilia

    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.

  • He Mutilated His Victims

    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.

  • He Cannibalized His Victims

    After cutting flesh from Manual Knodt’s dead body, Joachim Kroll took the pieces of the 16-year-old’s buttocks back to his home, cooked the cuts of meat, and ate them. After experimenting with cannibalism for the first time, Kroll must have developed a taste for human flesh, because he went on to eat more pieces of meat he’d taken from his victims’ bodies.

    After killing 13-year-old Petra Giese in April 1962 by strangling her to death with her own scarf, he used his knife to cut off sections of the girl’s hand, forearm, and buttocks. Just months after murdering Giese, he strangled 12-year-old Monika Tafel in June 1962. After killing the child, he raped her body and cut pieces of flesh from her thighs and buttocks, and some experts concluded he may have even eaten consumed some of Tafel’s raw tissue at the murder scene.

  • He Killed One Male Victim

    While most of the people Joachim Kroll murdered were women and young girls, he did kill one male victim, 25-year-old Hermann Schmitz, on August 22, 1965. Schmittz had parked by a lake close to the city of Duisburg, and he was sitting in his car with his girlfriend, Marion Veen. Kroll approached the vehicle and used his knife to deflate one of the tires; then he stabbed Schmittz multiple times in the heart when the 25-year-old exited his car to investigate the damage.

    Miraculously, Veen was able to flee the scene in the her boyfriend’s vehicle before Kroll attacked her, but Schmittz died from his injuries, making the young man the only known male victim of the Duisburg Man-Eater.