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  • Writer's pictureElsa Moreira

Issei Sagawa: majoring in cannibalism

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Hi guys, I hope you are doing well and enjoying your summer (don't forget to put on sunscreen) ! Today, I'm going to tell you the story of a guy who barely tried to hide his abject obsession and got almost no consequences for killing someone. Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between, I present to you Issei Sagawa !

Issei Sagawa

Issei Sagawa was born on April 29th, 1949 in Kobe, Japan. He is the son of a wealthy business man, so he grows up with everything he needs. However, that doesn't mean he has a perfect start in life.

Indeed, at 3, he survives an encephalitis which leaves him with severe neurological and psychiatric issues. At the same time, he starts being obsessed with cannibalism, because of a game he and his little brother plays with their uncle, where the uncle pretends to be an ogre eating the two children. Issei starts having nightmares about cannibalism, and later he even asks his school teacher why people can't eat their loved ones instead of burying them once they are dead. If I had been his dad, I would have taken the kid to therapy and asked my brother to find another game to play, but that didn't happen for some reason. And because of that lack of intervention, Issei grows up with this obsession, which ends up merging with an obsession for Western women he got on the way.

In 1973, Issei is living and studying in Tokyo when he decides to act on his obsession for the first time. He tries to break into the bedroom of a young German woman to kill and eat her, but thankfully she wakes up and manages to fight him off because - and I'm not joking - Issei is 4,9ft and weighs around 88lbs. The motherfucker is basically a goblin !

Anyway, Issei's father pays off the young woman so she doesn't press charges and sends Issei to a psychiatrist, who determines that Issei is absolutely dangerous and must be institutionalized. Guess what Issei's dad does with this conclusion ? You're right, absolutely nothing !

Eight years later, Issei is in France at the Sorbonne university for his PhD in comparative literature when he meets Renée Hartevelt, a Dutch student. He immediately falls head over heels for her, and tries to seduce her, but she does her best to politely reject him. Can't blame her, I mean...have you seen the guy ? He basically looks like if the definition of "crazy incel" came to life.

Renée Hartevelt

Sadly, Issei handles the rejection terribly, and decides that he's going to have her, one way or another. On June 11th, 1981, he uses homework as a pretext to invite Renée over. When she arrives, he asks her to read some poems aloud, which she does. And while she's reading, Issei discreetly takes his .22 long rifle and shoots her in the neck, killing her instantly. He almost immediately tries to rape her dead body, but Renée died on her period, and he's too disgusted to do it (he's disgusted by that out of all things), so he goes onto the next part of his plan.

He puts Renée in his bathtub, and spends two days cutting her up and eating parts of her body, taking photos of everything. After those two days, Issei realizes that the decomposition is too advanced for him to continue eating Renée, so he buys two suitcases, tools to dismember the body, and cleaning supplies. He also goes to Renée's place to take all the letters he had written to her.

Once he manages to fit Renée's body in the two suitcases and is done with the cleaning, he takes a taxi to the Bois de Boulogne, and tries to throw the two suitcases in the pond there, but his 88-pound body simply can't get the job done. During his struggle, he attracts the attention of passersby, who start asking him questions about what he is doing. He can't come up with a lie, so he stutters a bit and finally runs off without the suitcases. The passersby open the suitcases, and immediately call the police when they see what's inside.

The police easily find out who owns the suitcases. Indeed, the passersby in the Bois de Boulogne gave a precise description of Issei, and the taxi driver who dropped him off gives his address to the investigators. After that, they simply have to wait for Issei to come home, and when he does, they arrest him. They try to handcuff him, but his wrists are too little (lol). Thankfully, he is cooperative and even says "You're here because I have killed my friend Renée, right ?" No dumbass, they just want to sell you calendars...Ugh, that man irritates me.

In the interrogation room, Issei confesses everything, and basically tells his life story to the investigators. He is placed in the La Santé prison, and a judge assigns 3 psychology experts to his case. During his detention, he writes long letters to Renée's parents to explain to them that he killed and ate their daughter out of love (the audacity of this brings me to the edge of my sanity). He also starts writing his memoirs, and begins discussing a theater adaptation of his story with a theater director.

In 1983, the three psychology experts conclude that Issei is too insane to be put on trial. Faced with these conclusions, the judge has no choice but to dismiss the case, and have Issei put into a psychiatric hospital for the criminally insane. And that's where Issei's dad comes back into the scene. He argues that Issei would be better in a Japanese hospital, and gets to bring him back to Japan in May 1984. That decision would sit well with me if the doctors at the Japanese hospital hadn't deemed Issei sane and released him in August 1985.

And just like that, Issei is free. He tries to lay low for a while, but when journalists ask for his "expertise" after a gruesome murder involving dismemberment, he is just...catapulted into celebrity. He appears in shows, writes books, acts in porn movies (ew), becomes a food critic (double ew), and the list goes on. Thankfully, his fame dwindled over the years, and he now lives a quiet life, obsessed by Japanese schoolgirls instead of Western women. Did I mention the fact that he regrets nothing and still wants to eat people ? Because I feel like it should be mentioned. Anyway, I can't wait for this little bitch to die.

What do you think about this case ? Tell me in the comments below or on r/Murder_Wine_Cheese. Also, don't hesitate if you want to make a suggestion or a donation. I'll see you in the next article !

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