Many of us have seen Silence of the Lambs, and cringed at everything Buffalo Bill did involving skinning those girls. But did you know that there are many murderers throughout history who did exactly that (and worse) with their victims? That's right, there are killers who skinned their victim and then... did things with the skin, to quote Dr. Lector. From Ed Gein to Vlad the Impaler, these killers live on in our history books and in our nightmares. Still, it's hard not to be morbidly curious, right?
It probably goes without saying, but let's be clear: this article contains graphic descriptions of murder and torture. If you have a weak stomach, this is not the article for you. If, on the other hand, you want to learn about the more horrific parts of mankind, and learn about just how depraved a person can get, then this group of killers is sure to disgust and fascinate you.
So, hang on to your skin, or at least your lunch, as we take a look into the crimes and minds of killers who found new and terrifying uses for human skin.
Omaima Aree Nelson
Even the beautiful can be ugly killers. On Thanksgiving Day in 1991, aspiring Egyptian American model Omaima Nelson attacked her husband, Bill, at their apartment in Costa Mesa, California. She stabbed him with scissors, then beat him with a clothes iron before he at last died. She then did the only logical thing: she skinned and cooked him.
She boiled his hands in oil, and boiled his head as well, and dismembered the rest of him. She skinned his torso entirely, and also castrated him for revenge, as she claimed he had sexually assaulted her numerous times. She then mixed his meat in with the Thanksgiving turkey, and claimed to have eaten parts of his remains before throwing the rest into the trash, including the removed skin.
Nelson is currently serving out a 27 years to life sentence in a women's prison in California.
The case of Mary Bell is both tragic and horrifying. Bell was only 11 years old when she killed not one, but two little boys. Why? Well, her mother was a prostitute who had forced her daughter into sexually servicing men starting at the age of four. Her mother also supposedly tried to kill her multiple times, so this was one disturbed little girl. In 1968, Bell killed a four-year-old boy, then killed a second just two months later, strangling them both before mutilating the bodies. She carved their skin, cut their hair, and, most horribly, mutilated their penises.
That last detail is why she's on this list. Upon inspection of the second corpse, police found that the 11-year-old girl had actually skinned the boy's penis, and had perhaps tried to cut it off as well. While this is likely linked to her own abuse, no one is sure what Mary intended to do with the skin. She has been released from prison, received a huge amount of psychiatric care, and now lives under a new name.
If you want an unusual resume, look no further than Masnah Ismail, also known as Mona Fandey. She was a Malaysian pop singer, witch doctor, and ultimately murderer, who was executed in 2001 for her horrific crimes. After her singing career, she was known locally as a shaman, and she eventually turned to dark witchcraft so strong that politicians would come to her for aid. One such politician came to her for help, and as he laid down for a cleansing ritual to be performed, she instead hacked off his head and limbs with an axe. She then skinned his body and sectioned it into 18 parts.
The ensuing trial was so traumatic that it actually contributed to Malaysia ceasing jury trials. Throughout her trial, Fandey constantly smiled, dressed extravagantly, and posed for the press.
While Mary Bell is definitely the youngest skinning killer on this list, Sandy Charles is a close second. When Charles was just 14 years old, he and an unnamed seven-year-old accomplice lured a young boy into the bushes. Charles claimed he wanted to play a game with the boy, but once the boy got there, he bludgeoned the child to death. From there, he cut skin off the body in strips to take home, then boiled the skin until the attached fat reduced to liquid. It makes one wonder: why?
Well, apparently Charles wanted to fly. He claimed that he had gotten the idea from a movie titled Warlock, in which an evil warlock kills a young boy and then uses the skin and fat in order to make a potion that enables him to fly. Accounts differ on whether or not he and the other boy actually drank the fat and skin, but Charles did claim that there was a spirit in his room that told him he needed to do it.