Fritz Haarmann (1879-1925) is one of several prominent people who have been cited as a real vampire. He grew up in fear of his father, and joined the army as a young man. After a period of service, he returned to Hanover, Germany, but was arrested shortly after for child molestation.
Haarmann was sentenced to a mental institution where he escaped and went to Switzerland, where he lived on the streets, surviving off of petty crime interspersed with arrests and brief stays in jail. It was not uncommon for Haarmann to sell black market meat on the streets.
After World War 1, he switched sides and joined the police department as an informer and spy.
Haarmann was a homosexual; he picked up young men from the streets and invited them into his home where he engaged in sex and on occasion killed them. He was arrested in 1919 and spend 9 months in jail for engaging in illegal sex. After he was released, Haarmann met Hans Grans (a male prostitute) who became his lover and partner in crime.
During the early 1920s, the crimes became grisly, and he began biting the throats of his victims and drinking their blood. He would lure hungry boys into his rooms, feed them a meal, then overpower them (with Grans’ help), and chew their throats until he had separated the head from body. Afterward, Haarman and Grans would butcher the body and dispose of the flesh by peddling it as steak at the Schieber Market and selling the boys’ clothes. They did this for about five years, dumping the larger remains of the boys’ bodies in the Leine canal.
One woman who had purchased the black market “steaks” became convinced that it was human flesh and turned it into the authorities. Police inspected it closely and declared it pork, but the number of missing boys continued to increase and the persistent please of parents eventually led police to Haarman in 1924.
In May 1924, several skulls were found on the banks of the canal, and several weeks later, some boys playing near the spot found a sackful of human bones. Two detectives from Berlin were called in on the case; they searched Haarman’s rooms and discovered bundles of boys’ clothing. His landlady’s son was even wearing a jacket from one of the missing boys.
While he sat in jail on rape charges, police searched him home and more than 20 bodies were found.
With the incriminating evidence, Haarmann finally confessed and implicated Grans. Haarmann was charged with 24 murders, although it is believed that he killed more than 50 people. He testified and related accounts of many of his activities that included cannibalism.
Once convicted at the Hanover Assizes in early December 1924, Haarmann was sentenced to death and executed by decapitation on April 15, 1925. Grans received a life sentence that was later commuted to 12 years.