Trigger Warning: Descriptions of murder, attempted rape, and cannibalism.
In this article:
- Joe Metheny, a native of Baltimore, claimed that he killed as many as 10 people in the 1990s. He claimed that he began killing when his girlfriend left him.
- Metheny killed several sex workers in South Baltimore, dismembered them, saved pieces of them in a freezer, and then threw the rest of their bodies in a river. He never expressed any remorse for his actions.
- With the human meat he saved in his freezer, Metheny made burgers and served them at a roadside barbeque stand to unsuspecting passersby.
Anyone interested in the psychology of a serial killer should be familiar with the classic 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs. And, if you’ve seen the film, you probably remember the interview with Hannibal Lecter in which he says, “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
Cannibalism is a theme amongst serial killers in the real world as well. Who hasn’t heard of “The Milwaukee Cannibal” Jeffrey Dahmer, the man who killed and ate 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991?
As despicable as eating one’s own murder victims is, what may be even more horrendous is feeding human corpses to unsuspecting people. This is the horrific act that Baltimore native Joe Metheny committed in the 1990s.
Yes, if you ever needed a reason to become a vegetarian, this is it.
Joe Metheny saved the meatiest parts of his victims and stored them in a freezer. He then ground up the human meat, mixed it with pork and beef, and formed it into hamburger patties. These patties were then cooked and sold to unsuspecting passersby from a roadside barbeque stand.
While on trial after his arrest, Metheny spoke of the human meat burgers, saying, “They were very good. The human body taste was very similar to pork. If you mix it together no one can tell the difference.”
He also said that he would never apologize for the crimes he committed and that he actually enjoyed murdering each of his victims.
Of course, such a sick and twisted individual is not created in a vacuum. Metheny’s descent into homicidal mania was probably the result of his difficult upbringing, his excessive drug use, his experiences in the United States Army, his subsequent homelessness, and, to have him tell it, his abandonment by his girlfriend.
The story of Joe Metheny is as sad as it is disturbing. Metheny left many victims in the wake of his reign of terror: his murder, the families of those he killed, those to whom he fed human meat unknowingly, and his own family.
Joe Metheny’s Descent Into Madness
Joe Metheny’s early life wasn’t exactly easy. His father was an alcoholic that was killed in a car accident when Joe was only six years old. His mother, trying to support a family of six children by herself, wasn’t able to fully care for her children while working double shifts.
Even so, Joe Metheny’s mother said that he was a good student, polite, and never mean as a child.
When Joe Metheny turned 19, he joined the United States Army. His mother said that he served in Germany. Joe Metheny himself claimed that he had served a tour in Vietnam and that he had become addicted to heroin while there.
However, United States involvement in Vietnam had ended by that time, so that was clearly a lie.
What was not a lie was Metheny’s newfound addiction to drugs after he returned from his service in the Army.
On this subject, his mother said, “He just kept drifting further and further away. I think the worst thing that ever happened to him was drugs. It’s a sad, sad story.” He began spending all of his time in bars, living in makeshift homeless camps, and spending all of his money on crack cocaine, heroin, and liquor.
Despite his addictions, Metheny was able to find stable work as a forklift driver and he even had a girlfriend and a son.
One day, though, when Metheny returned from work, his wife and child were simply gone. Suspecting that his wife had left with their child to go live with another man, Metheny flew into a vengeful rage. This is the event that Methany would claim sparked his spree of murders.
Murder and Revenge
After the disappearance of his girlfriend and son, Metheny went looking for them for days. He searched in halfway houses and under bridges where she used to buy drugs but found nothing.
Eventually, he came across two homeless men whom he believed were withholding information from him about the location of his family. He murdered both of them with an ax he’d brought along.
Metheny was eventually arrested for these murders and even told law enforcement that he committed three more unrelated murders that same evening. However, this case was ultimately dropped due to a lack of evidence.
These were not his first victims, though.
After he was arrested, Metheny claimed that he had murdered a sex worker by the name of Cathy Ann Magaziner a year earlier in 1994. He claimed that he first buried her body in a shallow grave at the factory where he worked.
He then returned to the body six months later, took the head, put it in a box, and threw it in the trash.
Having begun killing before the abandonment he claimed spurred his murder spree, it seems that Metheny wasn’t looking for revenge after all. He was just enthralled with the thrill of killing.
In fact, he even discovered the whereabouts of his family, as he claimed, “I found out about six months later she had moved on the other side of town with some asshole that had her out selling her ass for drugs. They got busted for drugs and they took my son away from them for child neglect and child abuse.”
Unfortunately, that knowledge didn’t seem to quench his thirst for violence.
In 1996, Joe Metheny killed Kimberly Lynn Spicer by driving a knife through her chest. Less than a month later, he was sharing drugs in his trailer with a woman named Rita Kemper. When Kemper refused to have sex with him and attempted to flee from the trailer, Metheny chased her, beat her, dragged her back into the trailer, and attempted to rape her.
Kemper also alleged that he tried to kill her and even screamed, “I’m going to kill you and bury you in the woods with the other girls.”
Metheny had hidden the body of Kimberly Lynn Spicer at the factory where he worked. However, fearing that someone would discover it, he asked one of his coworkers to help him bury it. His coworker immediately told the police and Metheny was arrested the same day.
The Truth Revealed
Although you might expect a struggle from a man as violent as Joe Metheny, the arresting officers were surprised when he went peaceful and said, simply, “I’m a very sick person.” Once the police began to question Metheny, the true extent of his crimes was revealed.
Metheny claimed that he killed up to 10 people, most of them young, white, female sex workers whose bodies he dumped in the Patapsco River. For most of those victims, though, there was never any evidence found.
During his interview, Metheny also revealed some disturbing information about what he’d done with the bodies after murdering his victims.
In some cases, he was turning them into burgers. In Joe Methany’s own words, “I cut the meat up and put it in some Tupperware bowls then put it in a freezer. I opened up a little open-pit beef stand. I had real roast beef and pork sandwiches. They were very good. The human body taste was very similar to pork. If you mix it together no one can tell the difference.”
Indeed, it seemed that no one could tell the difference or, perhaps, no one could have possibly fathomed that they’d been served human meat.
It is unknown how many people consumed Metheny’s burgers. Metheny himself later said in an interview, “So, the next time you’re riding down the road and you happen to see an open-pit beef stand that you’ve never seen before, make sure you think about this story before you take a bite of that sandwich.”
Metheny never showed any remorse whatsoever for the crimes he committed. He claimed that the only thing he regretted is that he never got to murder his ex-girlfriend and the man she ran off with.
Initially, Metheny received the death penalty, but the sentence was later changed to life in prison. Metheny was found dead in his prison cell in 2017.