Hannibal Lecter, America's favorite fictional cannibal, is famous for claiming that he once ate a census worker's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. As it turns out, most real-life cannibals are less refined, and a slew of recent incidents involving alleged human-flesh-eating has cast a spotlight on the goriest aspects of the practice. From a face-gnawing homeless man in Miami to a limb-chopping porn star in Canada, the rise in alleged cannibalism has sparked a whirlwind of questions: Is it a chilling trend? A series of coincidences? The telltale signs of a coming zombie apocalypse? Here, seven alleged cases of cannibalism that have cropped up in recent months:
1. The gay porn star who allegedly ate his boyfriend
This week, police in Germany apprehended Luka Magnotta, a gay porn star from Canada accused of killing his lover and eating him. Afterward, Magnotta allegedly mailed his lover's dismembered feet and hands to the headquarters of Canada's main political parties. Magnotta was captured at an internet cafe in Berlin — where he had reportedly been looking up stories about himself — ending an international manhunt that had lasted two weeks.
2. The homeless man who ate another man's face
Now notoriously known as the Miami Zombie, Rudy Eugene horrified the world last week when he was found gnawing a homeless man's face on the side of a Miami highway. Eugene had reportedly eaten almost all of his victim's face, leaving little but his goatee. Eugene was found naked, and merely responded to the police with growls before they shot him to death. Some reports have intimated that Eugene was high on bath salts, a cocktail of synthetic drugs that causes users to overheat and can give them superhuman strength.
3. The college student who allegedly ate his roommate's brain
This week, authorities in Maryland said college student Alex Kinyua admitted to killing his roommate and eating his heart and parts of his brain. One of Kinyua's former military instructors reportedly said that Kinyua, who was once an ROTC member, was a "Virginia Tech waiting to happen," in reference to the 2007 mass shootings at the university.
4. The "asexual" who cooked his own genitals
In a possible nod to Hannibal Lecter, Mao Sugiyama, a self-described asexual, served his recently severed genitals to a group of five diners at a fancy banquet in Japan last month. Sugiyama underwent genital-removal surgery because he doesn't identify with either gender, and went on Twitter to advertise that the remains were for sale. He served his genitals, topped with button mushrooms and parsley, for $250 a plate.
5. The Swedish professor who allegedly ate his wife's lips
Last month, a professor in Sweden, unnamed by local press, was reported to have cut off his wife's lips and eaten them, in a jealous rage prompted by suspicions that she was having an affair. He is being charged with attempted murder, and authorities say he will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
6. The chef who allegedly turned his victims into meatballs
In August 2011, Russian police said a murderous chef, identified only as Ivan L., had admitted to making meatballs and sausages from his victims' corpses. The chef was accused of luring victims to his apartment through a gay-dating website, then killing them with a butcher's knife. He also reportedly filmed his culinary adventures and posted them on the internet.
7. The cannibal who used a crossbow to kill his victims
Stephen Griffiths, a PhD student from England, pled guilty in December 2010 to murdering three female victims, one of whom was killed with a crossbow. Griffiths said he had eaten parts of two of his victims, boiling one in a pot and consuming the other raw.