|Issei Sagawa (left), Renée Hartevelt (right)|
On June 11, 1981 in Paris, France, Issei Sagawa killed and partially ate Renée Hartevelt, a Dutch female student he fell in love with.
Sagawa was born in Kobe, Japan in 1949 and was sent by his parents in 1977 to the Sorbonne university in Paris, for his modern literature studies. He there met Renée Hartevelt, a woman he quickly became obsessed with (he admitted having a obsession for tall European women).
Sagawa convinced Hartevelt to meet him in his apartment, pretending that he needed her to record German poems.
He then shot Hartevelt in the back using a .22 long rifle, while she was reading a Johannes Robert Becher's poem about death; Using a electric knife, he started taking more than seven kilos of meat off her body. He consumed her flesh during the three next days, cooking several meals using the body leftover, having sex with the corpse, before finally getting rid of the body. In addition of recording the whole butchery (Hartevelt's last words and the actual fire shot were caught on tape), Sagawa also shot a total of 39 photographs showing several "stagings" he made with the body.
Trying to make Hartevelt's body disappear, Sagawa eventually committed a mistake by losing in a public garden one of his suitcases containing body parts. The police later found the owner of the suitcase and arrested the man who was to be called "The Japanese Cannibal" by the newspapers. The rest of Hartevelt's body, the rifle, the butchery photos, the tape recorder as well as several other evidences were found in his department.
Oddly enough, Issei Sagawa was never condemned for the murder. Fully assuming his acts (he stated that he "needed to absorb the corpse's power" and qualified the crime as being an "artistic act"), he was recognized as mentally insane by three psychiatrist experts, and thus penally irresponsible. Interned for one year in a mental hospital, he was then transferred to Japan (where he was judged responsible, but the former verdict from the French court was definitive and left no decision for the Japanese justice), and finally released on 13 August, 1985.
Following the murder, Sagawa became a small-time celebrity in Japan, writing books, playing in erotic films, reviewing restaurants and invited as guest speaker in various TV shows. He currently lives in Yokohama, Japan, working as "freelance artist for nude paintings" and has recently been expressed the wish of dying slowly, being eaten by a "tall Dutch woman".
While all of the graphic crime scene and autopsy pictures were published in the magazine Photos in December 1983, the tape coming for Sagawa's audio recorder is not known to have been unearthed in any form. If it still exists, it likely remains in Police archives, like the Christine Chubbuck video.
Autopsy/Crime Scene Photos
WARNING: These photos are of Hartevelt's dismembered corpse. They are extremely graphic. View at your own discretion.