Written By: TJ
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. Kroll was infamous by many names but the most popular was “Ruhr Cannibal.” Kroll received that name because he terrorized western Germany’s Ruhr Metropolitan by executing the most heinous crimes of killing and eating 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 Hindenburg, Germany near the Polish border. He was the sixth of eight children born to a miner who later became a prisoner of WWII.
Kroll was seen as the weakest among his siblings. Psychiatrists would later discover that Kroll’s IQ had a score of 76, a borderline mental retardation according to research. He also often wet the bed, which could be the reason why he was bullied and made fun of in school. As a result, he only reached third grade and never progressed in his education.
The town idiot was what Kroll was known to be. This led him to be shy around girls during puberty and his teenage years. He felt sexually inadequate around women and to have actual conversations with them seemed an impossible task. As we will later discuss, this may have had a big influence on why he turned to rape later on to fulfill his sexual desires.
Kroll’s family struggled with poverty as a result of WWII. Later, Kroll’s father was incarcerated and died. Following the death of Kroll’s father, Kroll and his family moved to North Rhine-Westphalia, where Kroll spent ten years with his mother and siblings before living on his own.
The End and The Beginning
In 1955, Joachim Kroll’s family continued to suffer from poverty and difficult times. These hard times eventually caught up with Kroll’s mother, who then died marking the end of her life.
The siblings went on their separate ways. Three weeks after Kroll’s mother’s death, Kroll endured psychotic episodes that led 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. He then viciously raped her corpse until he attained arousal. Subsequently, he used a long butcher knife to disembowel her. She would be found dead five days later after the crime.
Many have questioned if the death of Kroll’s mother had triggered something inside that pushed him to do these unimaginable things. Whether this was coincidence or not, what occurred after this event was unspeakable.
Stabbing, mutilation, cannibalism, and strangulation were the main actions of Kroll’s rape and murder crimes. Most of the victims’ bodies that were found had missing limbs and flesh including the buttocks, the thighs, and the belly for the purpose of consumption. It was later found out that Kroll ate his victims to save on grocery bills.
Following his first crime, Kroll’s string of murders began in 1955:
- February 8, 1955 – The first victim in 1955 was Irmgard Strehl, a 19-year-old woman who was rapped and stabbed.
- 1956 – The second murder occurred in 1956 and involved, Erika Schuletter, a 12-year-old girl, who was raped and strangled.
- June 16, 1959 – Three years later in 1959, Klara Frieda Tesmer, a 24-year old woman was murdered in the meadows of the Rhine.
- July 26, 1959 – That same year was the death of Manuela Knodt, a 16-year old girl who was raped and strangled. Slices of flesh were carved from her thighs and buttocks.
- April 23, 1962 – In 1962, three pre-teen girls were murdered : Petra Giese, Monika Tafel and Barbara Brudel. Two girl’s bodies were found but the body of Barbara Brudel was not.
- June 4, 1962 – Murder of Monika Tafel
- September 3, 1962 – Murder of Barbara Brudel
- August 22, 1965 – In 1965, a supposed romantic night for a couple was ruined when the boyfriend named Herman Schmitz, age 25, was attacked. He was the only male among Kroll’s victims. Herman’s girlfriend, Veen, luckily escaped.
- September 13, 1966 – Another couple was harassed a year later in 1966 when Ursula Rohling, age 20, was strangled.
- December 22, 1966 – Three months after, a little girl named Ilona Harke, age 5, was raped and drowned in a ditch.
- July 12, 1969 – In 1969, the oldest victim named Maria Hettgenn, age 61, was raped and strangled.
- May 21, 1970 – A year later, Jutta Rahn, age 13, was strangled while walking home from a train station.
- May 8, 1976 – The last two crimes were executed 6 years later in 1976, Karin Toepfer, age 10, was raped and strangled.
- July 3, 1976 – That same year, the final victim of Joachim Kroll would also be his greatest downfall which we will discuss below.
Kroll, Despite his mental retardation, Kroll had been the only exception among the line of mentally retarded serial killers who did not need 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. Police did not suspect that these crimes were executed by a below average individual with a third grade intelligence.
The Many Faces of an Elusive Criminal
As a result of police investigation, there were multiple people who were falsely believed to be the killer. Some of these people allegedly took their own lives because they were unable to live with the fact that they were being blamed for these crimes.
When Klara Frieda Tesmer was murdered, a mechanic named Henry Ott was blamed and arrested for the crime. Later he was found dead hanging inside his prison cell. Vinzenz Kuehn was convicted for the death of Petra Giese. Walter Quicker was arrested and blamed for Monika Tafel’s death, but when he was proven to be not guilty, he was released. Subsequently, his own neighbors drove him to suicide following his not guilty verdict. Adolf Schickel also committed suicide when he was blamed for the death of Ursula Rohling, who at the time was his own girlfriend. 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 killed his victims. Kroll would rarely commit crimes in the same place. At the time of these crimes, there were also other killers within the same areas making Kroll nearly impossible to identify. If we had not known that his IQ score was below average, some may say that he was a mad genius.
Joachim Kroll moved to Duisburg and began working as a lavatory assistant. Living alone, he took company with dolls which he used to attract young children. Around town, he was known as “Uncle Joachim” as he treated them to candy and tiny gifts.
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. On July 3, 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 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. At this time, 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 occurred until 1982. 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, Germany, became his new home where he would squander the rest of his days. On July 1, 1991, he died of a heart attack after spending 9 years in jail.
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