Issei Sagawa is one of the most famous killers/cannibals/necrophiles on the planet.
Sagawa comes from a rich Japanese family, and in 1981, while studying at the Sorbonne, he spotted Renée Hartevelt. She was officially his first and only victim.
Instead of spending the rest of his days in a jail cell, he lives a life of luxury. The worst part: he is still fantasizing about mutilating, raping, and eating another person.
Perhaps he already committed more crimes, but for now, we will stick to what we know: the murder of Hartevelt and Sagawa in his own words.
How "Paris Cannibal" Met Renée Hartevelt
Though Hartevelt was the first victim, Sagawa, also known as Pang or The Kobe Cannibal, has had his eyes on several other women, some of them prostitutes.
The real-life Hanibal Lector is quite small, and thanks to this, his first potential victim managed to escape certain death. This was when Sagawa was 24, and a woman from Germany caught his attention. He managed to sneak into her room, but she pushed him away, and the police accused him of attempted rape.
Three years later, he moved from Tokyo to Paris to pursue his P.h.D. Clearly, a highly intelligent and the disturbed young man knew what he was after. And so, after several years of not having the guts to pull the trigger, as he later revealed, he invited classmate Renée Hartevelt to dinner.
Hartevelt, 25, thought she was having a nice night with a brilliantly minded 32-year-old. She was tall, beautiful, and healthy - everything 144 cm tall Sagawa wasn't. In fact, he refers to himself as a "weak, ugly and small man."
He thought about killing her and "absorbing her energy." And so, he first shot her, then raped her corpse, but he wasn't able to bite into her skin. He used an electric knife.
After eating mostly some parts of her face and breasts, Sagawa left the rest in the refrigerator.
Once he had his fun, two days later, the sadistic killer put the "leftovers" into two suitcases. On his way to throw the rest of Hartevelet's remains into Bois de Boulogne, the police caught him.
For Issei Sagawa Eating Human Flesh Is The Ultimate Fantasy
Since he was found legally insane, Sagawa avoided jail time. Instead, he was in a mental institution in Paris and was transferred to Japan shortly after.
Tokyo's psychiatrists claimed that Sagawa was sane, and his crimes were of sexual nature. He walked away from the mental hospital on 12 August 1986.
Since then, Sagawa is both among the most hated and the most celebrated people on the planet. He made a hefty profit from telling his story, writing, and appearing on TV shows.
In 1986, the Swedish media called him Cannibal Superstar, and to this day, this crazy nickname is the best way to describe how the world reacts to Sagawa.
In one of his interviews, he said:
"The public has made me the godfather of cannibalism, and I am happy about that."
His defense is that he never wanted to kill anyone. He wanted a taste of their flesh, as he compared his cannibalism to liking someone:
"It's simply a fetish. For example, if a normal man fancied a girl, he'd naturally feel a desire to see her as often as possible, to be close to her, to smell her and kiss her, right? To me, eating is just an extension of that. Frankly, I can't fathom why everyone doesn't feel this urge to eat, to consume, other people."
And though his crime made a mark on the world, it was not out of the bloom. Sagawa's urge to kill and eat his victim started as a fantasy, perhaps when he was just a child.
He remembered watching Hansel and Gretel and thinking, "Mmm, that looks delicious" while staring at his classmate's thighs.
In the Fog and The Rolling Stones
Inuhiko Yomota helped Sagawa write a book, In the Fog, where the killer talks about his life, fantasies, and his time in Paris.
The book was quite successful, and Sagawa continued writing about other murders and even restaurant reviews for the Japanese magazine Spa.
Up until the mid-90s, The Kobe Caniball lived a high life. He inspired Too Much Blood by The Rolling Stones, the Stranglers' song La Folie, and many others.
In 1992, he was in a movie Uwakizuma: Chijokuzeme (Unfaithful Wife: Shameful Torture) as a sadistic sexual voyeur. He was in the movie business once again in Caniba, a documentary film from 2017, about Sagawa and the murder of Renée Hartevelt.
The monstrous cannibal turned celebrity never shied away from giving all the gruesome details about the murder of the Dutch student. Over the years, he would add more and more, but the public eventually started to understand that there is nothing desirable or even interesting about his ways.
His health also started to deteriorate. Currently, he needs daily assistance, and his younger brother is always by the killer's side. Though he stated he would kill again due to neurological illness, that is unlikely, but not impossible.
How did a cannibalistic killer become a hero is one of many questions that will remain unanswered. Others are less philosophical, and perhaps the most common one is: did Sagawe's father pay off someone to set his son free?
He now lives on welfare benefits and even claims that he has a new fantasy: to be eaten by a tall, Western woman. He even posted a chilling message:
"I would like to invite any woman who wants to kill me to step forward. Beautiful women only. That would be the ideal way for me to die. Maybe they can shoot me up with morphine so that I don't feel any pain—although I guess the pain is part of the pleasure. Dying instantly is boring, so I want to savor the process of being killed."
"An alternative would be to drown in female saliva. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be covered all over in women's spit? If I could die drowning in it, that would be my ultimate dream come true. I'm a cowardly man who killed another person, yet I can't face killing myself. So, I guess dying at the hands of a woman would be my way to redemption."
It sounds like a trap to us, but who knows?
Issei Sagawa's Chilling Confessions About The Murder Of Renée Hartevelt
Over the years, we heard many details straight from Sagawa about how he felt while killing a bright, young colleague.
When the police caught him, he did not shy away from saying:
"I killed her to eat her flesh."
Talking to Vice, he described crucial moments from the chilling night. After shooting the young Dutch woman, he recalls:
"I thought about calling an ambulance."
"But then I thought, 'Hang on, don't be stupid. You've been dreaming about this for 32 years, and now it's actually happening!'"
After raping her corpse, it was time for more:
"The first thing I did was cut into her buttock."
"No matter how deep I cut, all I saw was the fat beneath the skin. It looked like corn, and it took awhile to actually reach the red meat. The moment I saw the meat, I tore a chunk off with my fingers and threw it into my mouth. It was truly a historical moment for me."
The 72-year-old worldwide famous cannibal also admitted to Beastiality with his dog while he was a child. The Kobe-born murderer might not be in his best health, but he continues to shock and play with the media in a way not many can.
He even blamed the media for posting suggestive pictures of women like Grace Kelly, for triggering his cannibalistic desires.
What he lacks in height and physical strength, he certainly makes up with manipulation and clearly extremely high intelligence.
Though Issei Sagawa is not the worst cannibal in history, he got caught and got away with it. Not that long ago.