Bait and Switch: The Cannibal Crimes of Joachim Kroll
The Hunting Continues
A much younger victim was Manuela Knodt, sixteen, whom Kroll strangled and dumped in a wooded park in Essen on July 26. But with this murder, he added an extra thrill. After he stripped her of clothing and raped her, he then used his long-bladed knife to remove pieces of flesh from her thighs and buttocks. He had also masturbated over her, leaving a significant deposit on her face and pubic area, leading police to believe that a gang of perverts had attacked her. No one knew then that Kroll had taken the fleshy parts to cook and consume. While he would claim that the scarcity and expense of meat had been his motivation, he also said that he'd wanted the experience of tasting human flesh. (A young man did confess to this murder six months later, and while he soon recanted, he was convicted and given a sentence of eight years in prison, of which he served five.)
Since he was getting away with his crimes, and each success made him hungrier, Kroll developed a routine that he believed had few risks: he would take a train or bus to an area that seemed isolated, and then he would get out and walk until he spotted a lone female whom he wished to accost. And yet while he maintained the same pattern of attacking and killing, his timing of known murders became somewhat erratic. Newton suggests it was done to confuse the police, but there's little evidence to support the idea. It could also be the case that he killed more than he admitted to, so the pattern would then seem more erratic than it actually was.
A twelve-year-old girl, Barbara Bruder, was on her way to a playground near her home in Burscheid-Klein-Hamberg early in 1962 when Kroll spotted her and quickly sized her up as a viable victim. Although her remains were never located, Kroll admitted to sexually assaulting and killing her after dragging her into a field where no one could see. He'd left her there, but his confession fourteen years later was too long afterward to return to the scene to look for remains.
Also that year, he raped and murdered thirteen-year-old Petra Giese, as well as another thirteen-year-old, Monika Tafel. On the day after Easter, Kroll strangled Giese with her own scarf, removing large hunks of flesh from her buttocks, along with her left forearm and hand. Another suspect served six years for this crime.
With Tafel, who was killed on June 4, Kroll had grabbed her in Walsum as she was walking to school, and after he had finished with her, he removed pieces from her buttocks and thighs. One source, clubmoral.com, indicates that he might have eaten parts of her "on the spot." These two killings had occurred about two months apart in different towns, so they weren't linked as originating with the same predator, despite the obviously similar aspects of perversion. In fact, a local suspect in Walsum hanged himself in the woods, which indicated to some people that he was guilty of the crime.
Then Kroll's pattern radically shifted.