Killing and cannibalismLooking for a willing victim, Meiwes posted an advertisement at a website, The Cannibal Cafe, whose disclaimer mentions the distinction between reality and fantasy. Meiwes's post stated that he was "looking for a well-built 18 to 30-year-old to be slaughtered and then consumed".Bernd Jürgen Brandes then answered the advertisement. Many other people responded to the advertisement, but backed out; Meiwes did not attempt to force them to do anything against their will.
As is known from a videotape the two made when they met on 9 March 2001 in Meiwes's home in the small village of Rotenburg, Meiwes amputated Brandes' penis and the two men attempted to eat the penis together before Brandes was killed. Brandes had insisted that Meiwes attempt to bite his penis off. This did not work and ultimately, Meiwes used a knife to remove Brandes' penis. Brandes apparently tried to eat some of his own penis raw, but could not because it was too tough and, as he put it, "chewy". Meiwes then fried the penis in a pan with salt, pepper, wine and garlic; he then fried it with some of Brandes' fat but by then it was too burned to be consumed. He then chopped it up into chunks and fed it to his dog.
According to journalists who saw the video (which has not been made public), Brandes may already have been too weakened from blood loss to actually eat any of his penis. Meiwes read a book for three hours, while Brandes lay bleeding in the bath. Meiwes apparently gave him large quantities of alcohol and pain killers, twenty sleeping pills and a bottle of schnapps, kissed him and finally killed him in a room that he had built in his house for this purpose, the Slaughter Room. After stabbing Brandes to death in the throat, he hung the body on a meat hook and tore chunks of flesh from it; he even tried to grind the bones to use as flour. The whole scene was recorded on the two-hour video tape. Meiwes ate the body over the next 10 months, storing body parts in his freezer under pizza boxes and consuming up to 20 kilograms (44 lb) of the flesh. According to prosecutors, Meiwes committed the act for sexual enjoyment.
Arrest, trial, and conviction of manslaughterMeiwes was arrested in December 2002, after a college student in Innsbruck phoned the police after seeing new advertisements for victims and details about the killing on the Internet. Investigators searched his home and found body parts and the videotaped killing.
On 30 January 2004, Meiwes was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years in prison. The case attracted considerable media attention and led to a debate over whether Meiwes could be convicted at all, given that Bernd Jürgen Brandes had voluntarily and knowingly participated in the act.
Meiwes has admitted what he did, and expressed regret for his actions. He added he wanted to write a book of his life story with the aim of deterring anyone who wants to follow his steps. Websites dedicated to Meiwes have appeared, with people advertising for willing victims. "They should go for treatment, so it doesn't escalate like it did with me", said Meiwes. He believes there are over 100 cannibals in Germany.
Retrial and murder convictionIn April 2005, a German court ordered a retrial after prosecutors appealed his sentence. They believed he should have been convicted of murder. Among the questions courts answered is whether Brandes agreed to his killing, and whether he was legally capable of doing so at the moment, taking into account his apparent mental problems as well as his significant intake of alcohol. Other aspects of the retrial determined whether Meiwes killed to satiate his own desires (in particular sexual desires), and not because he was asked to, which Meiwes has repeatedly rejected during testimony. At his retrial a psychologist stated that Meiwes could reoffend and still "had fantasies about devouring the flesh of young people." On 10 May 2006, a court in Frankfurt convicted Meiwes of murder and sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Consultant in criminal casesAccording to a Bild report from October 2007, Meiwes was helpful in the analysis of two suspected cannibal murders from 1998 and 2000, in which two young boys were found mutilated.
Modern Cultural Impact:
- The film Three and Out contains a reference to the incident in which a German persistently calls the protagonist asking if he would eat his penis. The protagonist, Paul, was previously looking for a man willing to jump in front of his train as he believed if three people did so in a month he would get 10 years of wages.
- The song "Mein Teil" by German band Rammstein was inspired by the case. Teil translates literally to "part" or "member," but is German slang for penis (much as "member" is in English). The chorus of "Mein Teil" includes the line "Denn du bist, was du isst und ihr wisst, was es ist", which translates to "Because you are what you eat and you (plural) know what it is" with "Du bist was du isst" being the famous catchphrase for the Swedish brand of crisp bread Wasa. The statement was originally made by Ludwig Feuerbach, a German philosopher, expressing that everything a human consumes influences his mind and body.
- In the 2005 song Eaten by Swedish death metal band Bloodbath, the lyrics are from the point of view of a man who fantasizes about being cannibalized.
- Other songs inspired by Meiwes's story include "The Wüstenfeld Man Eater" by American death/thrash metal band Macabre, "Let me Taste your Flesh" by Spanish death metal band Avulsed, as well as "Cannibal Anthem" by German electro-industrial project :wumpscut:, and "Menschenfresser [Man-eater]" by electro-industrial act Suicide Commando.
- Rock artist Marilyn Manson has identified Meiwes as inspirational in the titling of his album Eat Me, Drink Me. Manson explained in an article what this story meant to him: "Although I can't relate to the relationship those two had, I found the story very compelling in a romantic way. I think a lot of people wouldn’t look at it as romantic, but it was to them in some sick way, and it is to me in some sick way, too".
- Feature film Butterfly: A Grimm Love Story (aka Rohtenburg, which might be a pun on the name of the town Rothenburg near Armin Meiwes's house and the German word roh meaning "raw, uncooked") was scheduled for German release in March 2006. However, it was banned in that country after Meiwes complained that his personality rights had been violated. The ban has since been lifted by Germany's highest civil court on appeal and has been released in German cinemas. The German film, which is fictionalized, stars Keri Russell and, in the role inspired by Meiwes, Thomas Kretschmann. The film won multiple awards at the 2006 Festival de Cine de Sitges, including Best Director, Best Actor for the two male leads, and Best Cinematography.
- Other films based on the case include Rosa von Praunheim's Dein Herz in Meinem Hirn (Your Heart in My Brain); Marian Dora's Cannibal; and Ulli Lommel's Diary of a Cannibal.