Peter Stumpp – folklore werewolf serial killer

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Peter Stumpp

Peter Stumpp (died 1589) (whose name is also spelt as Peter StubePe(e)ter StubbePeter Stübbe or Peter Stumpf) was a Rhenish farmer, accused of being a serial killer and flesh-eater also known as the “Werewolf of Bedburg”. There is much confusion around his real name as ‘Stumpp’ quite possibly refers to the fact that he only had one hand. This being the case, it’s quite possible his name was actually Griswold.

Understandably, primary sources from the 16th Century are scarce but a sixteen-page pamphlet exists, written in English having been translated from the original German; no copy of the latter is known to exist. Essentially an early, lurid tabloid, the document recounts how Stumpp, a wealthy farmer born in the village of Epprath near Cologne, who was accused of murdering and eating countless victims over a period of 25 years, as well as having an incestuous relationship with his daughter, another distant relative and a succubus sent by the Devil.

Most sensationally, he was accused of being a werewolf, something he was happy to attest to, claiming he had been given a magic belt by the Devil which allowed him to metamorphose into “the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like fire, a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws.” Whilst in this form, he is said to have gorged on the flesh of goats, lambs, and sheep, as well as men, women, and children.

Threatened with torture he confessed to killing and eating fourteen children, two pregnant women, whose fetuses he ripped from their wombs and “ate their hearts panting hot and raw,” which he later described as “dainty morsels.” One of the fourteen children was his own son, whose brain he was reported to have devoured. Upon removing the belt, he returned to his human form.

Peter Stumpp

It perhaps goes without saying that Stumpp was made to pay heavily for his outrageous crimes, as was his daughter. His execution, fittingly on October 31st 1589, is one of the most brutal on record: He was put to the wheel, where flesh was torn from his body with red-hot pincers, followed by his arms and legs. Then his limbs were broken with a hammer to prevent him from returning from the grave before he was beheaded and burned on a pyre. His daughter Sybil (Beell) and his mistress Katharina Trump (!) had already been strangled and were burned along with Stumpp’s body.

After the executions, a real wolf’s body was hung in public, his head replaced with Stubbe’s head as a warning to anyone else contemplating lycanthropy. It is unknown how many if any crimes Stumpp had actually committed, though there is suspicion he was simply framed by local, jealous villagers.

Daz Lawrence


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