*Warning – The information you are about to read may include discussions of true crimes, graphic details, and crime scenes, this may be too graphic for some people, please use discretion when reading*
There are things in life we all want to try. Skiing, traveling on a camel in the desert, or trying the unique cuisine of international locations. Some cuisine we may not want to try, such as the cuisine that Issei Sagawa had a taste for in 1981.
Issei Sagawa was born in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan in 1949 to wealthy parents. Due to childhood illness, he was rather small and introverted. Because of this, he developed a strong interest in literature. When he was in the first grade it is reported he first experienced cannibalistic desires after seeing a male’s thigh. In an interview in 2011 Issei reported that as a youth, he partook in bestiality with his dog, and experience cannibalistic desires for women.
In 1977, Issei moved to France to pursue his Ph.D in literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. Every night he tried to shoot the prostitute that he brought home, but he froze up and was never able to pull the trigger.
While in the Sorbonne, Issei Sagawa met and befriended his classmate, Renee Hartevelt. She was a Dutch woman, who Issei felt was beautiful and healthy; two things he felt he was lacking. Issei purposely invited her over with the intention of killing and eating her. He wanted to absorb her essence. After she arrived to his apartment, Issei shot her in the neck with a rifle, and claims to have passed out. After waking, he carried out the rest of his morbid plan.
Issei had sex with her corpse, but was unable to bite into her skin because his teeth were not sharp enough. He butchered her body, and consumed various parts of her, eating most of her breasts and face either raw or cooked. Other parts were saved in his refrigerator. He took various pictures each time he ate her. He attempted to dump the rest of her body in a lake. He carried her body in two suitcases but was caught in the act and arrested by French Police four days later.
Because his family was wealthy, Issei’s father paid for a defense lawyer. He was held for two years before his trial, and found legally insane and unfit to stand trial. He was ordered by the French judge to be held indefinitely in a mental institution.
After meeting with an author, his account of the crime was published in Japan under the title In The Fog. His macabre celebrity contributed to his deportation from France back to Japan. While examined by Japanese psychologists, who all declared him sane, Issei was able to check himself out of the mental hospital he was originally sent to, and as the charges in France were dropped, he’s been free since August 12, 1986.
Issei has been able to appear in movies, writing books of his crimes, and also reviewing local restaurants. In 2005 his parents passed away and he was prevented from attending their funeral. As he is unable to support himself, he has had to accept welfare benefits. In 2013 he was hospitalized for a cerebral infarction, and now lives alone, dependent on daily assistance from his younger brother or other caregivers.
Issei Sagawa has said that being forced to make a living while being known as a murderer and cannibal was a terrible punishment. I think Renee Hartevelt would disagree, there are somethings that are worse.
Be safe, be strong, make good choices