The Grisly Crimes Of Joe Metheny

Horror films like to portray monsters in one of two categories: inhuman and human. Sometimes they're spectral beings, fantastical and horrid creatures, or beasts created in a lab with a hunger that drives them to kill, but the truly terrifying monsters are the ones in human skin. Why? Because they could be living right next door.

There are tens of thousands of murders committed every year in the United States, but fewer than 1 percent of those are due to serial killings, according to the Atlantic, and the killers behind these murders could be anyone. To make this topic a little more terrifying, the lead doctor and director of Basil University's Forensic Pathology Institute once told Vice that "practically everybody is capable of murder," all any of us needs is just a push in the wrong direction. Of course, not everyone is capable of mass murders or serial killings, but there are some out there who've made murder a hobby. Among them is Joe Metheny, whose crimes are among the sickest ever committed.

Joe Metheny's runaway wife and child

Joe Metheny's murder career stemmed from his family problems, mostly that they took off on him. There was a time when the future murderer was a simple family man with a wife and a son. Metheny and his wife had some issues. According to The Baltimore Sun, Metheny spent the majority of the money he made from his low-paying job as a forklift driver for a pallet company on three things: booze, crack, and heroin. A family built around drugs probably wasn't the healthiest thing in the world, and it definitely wouldn't last.

One night, after working overtime, as the tabloid The Sun explains, the giant Metheny (he was 6'1" and weighed between 400 and 500 lbs.) came home to an empty house. His wife had taken his then 6-year-old son, who'd later wind up in foster care, and skedaddled.

Metheny wasn't what you would call "the most stable person" if his record is any reflection of his personality. He'd racked up a history of assault and disorderly conduct charges. Later, when he was sitting behind bars, he'd tell his attorney that all of his misdeeds stemmed from drugs and traumatic childhood, but that couldn't explain away his behavior. See, after discovering his new bachelorhood, Metheny went on a hunting spree.

Brutally murdering sex workers and the homeless

Joe Metheny's wife was a druggie, and when she ran off, Metheny had a pretty good idea of where to start looking for her since, after all, he'd been a user himself. According to ATI, the giant went to places he'd assume she'd hide out, like halfway houses and such, and, eventually, landed on a bridge where she'd been known to get her high on. Under the bridge were two homeless men who Metheny thought knew his wife. Metheny chopped them up with an ax and tossed them in the river. He wasn't out looking to bring his wife home; he was out for revenge.

Shortly after murdering the homeless men, according to The Sun, Metheny lured a sex worker to the same bridge with the promise of drugs. He then raped and killed her. Metheny had caught a taste for murder. The killer lured one more sex worker under the bridge, finishing her off in a similar way before he was ready to move on, but he ran into a snag. A fisherman was nearby and the killer feared he may have seen him hiding a body, so he beat him to death with a steel pipe. All of these murders happened within a seven-hour span. In all, it's believed, according to the Independent, that Metheny killed at least 10 people, most of whom were sex workers or homeless folks.

Long pig is on the menu

After Joe Metheny was over his first few killings, which could possibly be categorized as "crimes of passion," he began to kill for what seems like sport. In reality, the "rage" that's believed to have driven Metheny to those first crimes should've worn off after he realized he just chopped some guys up with an ax. One of the key differences between the early murders and the later ones was how Metheny disposed of the bodies. The first few he dumped in the river or buried at the pallet factory at which he worked. The later ones, though, Metheny disposed of with culinary creativity.

During Metheny's confession, the killer admitted to grinding his victims up and mixing them with pork and beef to sell at a side of the road food stand he'd recently opened. "The human body tastes very similar to pork," he confessed (via ATI). "If you mix it together no one can tell the difference."

For weeks during the mid-90s, the killer fed unsuspecting Baltimore folks the flesh of his victims, and from what he says, none of his customers could tell that the burgers contained a special ingredient. "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 warned during his confession.

Joe Metheny was almost stopped early

The victims that ate Joe Metheny's special meat patties were, at one point, almost saved from the trauma of being unwitting cannibals. See, Metheny was arrested and put behind bars before he ever turned into the modern American version of Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd reference). The killer-turned-cannibal was held without bail for a year and a half for the murders of the homeless men under the bridge, but there wasn't enough evidence to convict the guy, and he was acquitted of the charges, according to The Baltimore Sun.

During Metheny's following and final arrest in 1996, after would-be victim Rita Kemper escaped from his clutches and called the authorities, police showed up ready for a fight that, contrary to expectations, wouldn't happen. Instead, the nearly 500 lb. violent murderer went with the authorities peacefully and even gave them a detailed, if not sickly prideful, confession. Metheny not only confessed to the crimes he was being charged with at the time but confessed to the crimes he'd already gotten away with as well. Probably the sickest, and this is a difficult thing to rank, was performing sexual acts with one of his victim's severed and decomposing head.

His confession ended without remorse as he added the line (via The Sun): "The words 'I'm sorry' will never come out, for they would be a lie." The killer was initially sentenced to the death penalty, but it was overturned to twin life sentences. Regardless, he ended up dying in his prison cell in 2017.