Written By: Trixie Jamito
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
A serial killer, a child molester, and a cannibal, Joachim Kroll was convicted of 8 murders but later confessed to a total of 14 which he committed for over 20 years between 1955 to 1976. He was infamous by many names but the most popular was “Ruhr’s Cannibal”, as he terrorized western Germany’s Ruhr Metropolitan by executing the most heinous crimes known to man: kill and eat his victims’ remains. Kroll was, in fact, listed as one of the worst serial killers in Germany.
Joachim Kroll’s Youth
Joachim Georg Kroll was born on April 17, 1933 in Poland. He was the sixth of eight children of a miner in Hindenburg, who later became a prisoner of WWII.
Kroll was seen as the weakest among his siblings. This was later supported when psychiatrists discovered that his IQ scored to 76, a borderline mental retardation according to research. He also often wets the bed, which can be the reason why he was bullied a lot and made fun of in school. As a result, he only reached third grade, making his education poor.
The town idiot was what Kroll came to be. This led him to be shy around girls during his puberty and teenage years. He felt sexually inadequate around women his age and to have actual conversations with them seemed an impossible task. This probably had a big influence on why he turned to rape later on to fulfill his sexual desires.
Kroll’s family suffered from poverty as the result of the WWII all throughout these years. His father was even incarcerated and died, bringing embarrassment and sadness to the family at the same time. This led them to move to North Rhine-Westphalia, where Kroll will be spending 10 years with his mother and siblings before living on his own.
The End and The Beginning
A decade later in 1955, Joachim Kroll’s family still suffered from poverty causing them continued hunger and hard times. These sufferings finally took its toll on his mother, marking the end of her life.
The siblings went on their separate ways. Shortly 3 weeks after his mother’s death, Joachim Kroll endured psychotic episode that attracted him to commit his first murder. A beautiful and outgoing 19-year-old lady named Irmgard Strehl was the unlucky victim. Kroll knew he couldn’t fulfill his sexual desires with her if she’s alive, so he stabbed her in the neck after luring her into his barn. Then, he viciously raped her corpse until he attained arousal. He used a long butchering knife to disembowel her, and she was found 5 days later after the crime.
Many have questioned if the death of Kroll’s mother has triggered something inside him that pushed him to do these unimaginable things. Coincidental timing or not, what ensues thereafter was the beginning of a nightmare.
Stabbing, mutilation, cannibalism, and strangulation were the main recipe of Kroll’s rape and murder crimes. Most of the victims’ bodies that were found had missing large portions of flesh from buttocks, thighs, and belly for the purpose of consumption. It was later found out that he ate his victims to save on grocery bills.
Following his first crime was the string of murders that began a year later in 1956. Erika Schuletter, 12-year-old, was raped and strangled. Three years after came Klara Frieda Tesmer, 24, murdered in the meadows of the Rhine. That same year was the death of Manuela Knodt, 16, raped and strangled, slices of flesh were carved from her thighs and buttocks. Three pre-teen girls were murdered in 1962: Petra Giese, Monika Tafel, Barbara Brudel. All of them were raped and murdered but only Barbara’s body was never found. Again, three years later, a supposed romantic night for a couple was ruined when the boyfriend named Herman Schmitz, 25, was attacked. He was the only male among Kroll’s victims. Herman’s girlfriend Veen luckily escaped. Another couple was harassed a year later when Ursula Rohling, 20, was strangled. Three months after, a little girl named Ilona Harke, 5, was raped and drowned in a ditch. In 1969, the oldest victim named Maria Hettgenn, 61, was raped and strangled. A year later, Jutta Rahn, 13, was strangled while walking home from a train station. The last two crimes were executed 6 years later in 1976, Karin Toepfer, 10, was raped and strangled. That same year, the final victim of Joachim Kroll would also be his greatest downfall. We will discuss her story at the latter part of the article.
Kroll, despite his mental retardation, had been the only exception among the line of mentally retarded serial killers who needed an accomplice to execute crimes. He was able to pull off all his crimes all by himself. Kroll has evaded police discovery for 21 years out of sheer luck as they were looking for someone they believed was very smart to plot these crimes, but in fact, they should be seeking for a seriously below average individual with a third grade intelligence.
The Many Faces of an Elusive Criminal
In consequence of police evasion, collateral damages had been inflicted on the innocent people around Joachim Kroll’s victims. Police have arrested a number of civilians falsely believing that they were the ones capable of committing such well-executed crimes. Most of them, unable to take the blame and hostility, resorted to taking their own lives to end it all at once.
When Klara Frieda Tesmer was murdered, a mechanic named Henry Ott was blamed and arrested for the crime. Later he was found inside his prison cell dead by hanging himself. Vinzenz Kuehn was convicted for the death of Petra Giese. Monika Tafel’s death was blamed to Walter Quicker which resulted to his arrest, but when proved not guilty he was released. However, his own neighbors drove him to suicide by the month of October. Adolf Schickel, Ursula Rohling’s boyfriend, suffered the same fate as he committed suicide for not being able to take the blame for her girlfriend’s death. Lastly, Peter Schay was arrested for the murder of Jutta Rahn, but he was eventually released. Six years later, he confessed to the crime after being rounded by his neighbors.
Kroll was very particular about where and when he kills, only killing in the same place on a few occasions years apart. This was further supported by the fact that there were a number of killers operating in the area at the time, making him almost invincible to capture. If we hadn’t known that his IQ score was below average, I’d think that he was rather a mad genius.
Joachim Kroll moved to Duisburg and began working as a lavatory assistant. Living alone, he took company with dolls which attracted young children around town, calling him “Uncle Joachim” as he also treated them with candies and tiny gifts. Unbeknownst to everyone, he has a very dark past and twisted mind for which he disguised as a children-loving local.
Marion Ketter was regarded as a sweet and trusting blonde little girl with a sweet tooth for Kroll’s abundance of candy. Unfortunately, she began to go missing for several days, with no trace of her as her parents desperately looked for her. One fateful day of 3rd July 1976, Kroll told his neighbor, Oscar Muller, not to use the top toilet of their apartment. When asked why, Kroll nonchalantly answered, “it is blocked up with guts”.
At first, Muller thought he was seeing butcher remains, red blood and tissue floating in the water. He immediately called a plumber but the latter suspected it was something else. They both called on the police and their suspicions were proven.
What was regarded in the toilet were the remains of the 4-year-old Marion Ketter. Police were perturbed and decided to search Kroll’s residence. Kroll was in the middle of cooking a stew when the police arrived, he casually admitted that the ingredients of his meal included body parts of Marion. After that, he didn’t dare to resist arrest.
In 1979, three years after his capture, a 151-day trial stretched until 1982 has been enforced against Joachim Kroll. During this time, Kroll confessed to 13 murders and one attempted murder, all in which he bragged in full details, including the horrible death of Marion Ketter who led him into his own destruction.
Kroll admitted that he sliced a part of his victims’ remains and put them into a refrigerator, a fact soon discovered by the police. He said that he was tending to his bills so he thought he would save up from buying food in grocery stores. He also boasted that after raping his victims, he would again have sexual intercourse with his dolls which decorated his home. True enough, the police also uncovered the blown up dolls lying inside the criminal’s apartment.
Kroll was convicted and sentenced to 9 terms of lifetime imprisonment. Rheinbarch’s prison became his new home where he would squander the rest of his days. On July 1, 1991, he died of heart attack after spending 9 years in jail.
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