HomeJoe Metheny: The 'Baltimore Cannibal' Who Turned Human Victims Into Hamburgers

Joe Metheny: The ‘Baltimore Cannibal’ Who Turned Human Victims Into Hamburgers

When you speak of serial killers, rapists and psychopaths of the highest degree, Joe Metheny tops the list. While serial killers like Dahmer, Robert Pickton, Katherine Knight and others, surpassed all levels of gruesomeness, this story is about Joe Metheny, the serial killer who made human burgers after brutally murdering and raping his victims.

Also known as the “Baltimore Cannibal”, Joe Metheny claimed to have killed 13 people. However, the police could only connect him to three murders. Known for his distinctive look, Joe Metheny allegedly turned his victims into human burgers or human beef sandwiches and sold them to unsuspecting customers on a Baltimore roadside.

Joe Metheny’s Early Life

During his trial, Joseph Roy ‘Joe’ Metheny claimed that he had a troubled childhood. His alcoholic father was killed in a car accident when Joe was just six years old. After this, his mother continued to neglect him and his five siblings as she worked double shifts to feed the family. As a child, he was an above-average, polite student.

During his trial, Joe revealed that his parents sent him to live in foster homes and that he suffered from depression due to his tormented childhood. Contrary to Joe’s claim, his mother expressed that she worked hard in several jobs to provide normal family life for her children. She also clarified that her children were never sent to foster homes.

In 1974, Joe joined the United States Army at the age of 18 and served in Germany. However, Joe claimed that he toured Vietnam where he became addicted to heroin.  Metheny seldom contacted his mother after he joined the Army. She once confessed, “He just kept drifting further and further away. I think the worst thing that ever happened to him was drugs. It’s a sad, sad story.”

From Revenge To Thirst For Murder…


After leaving the Army, Joe Metheny started working blue-collar jobs such as, in lumberyards and as a truck driver. What happened next shocked the entire nation.  Ironically known as “Tiny”, Joe was a 6’1″, heavily-framed and overweight person. He spent most of his time in bars, living with homeless men in makeshift camps in Baltimore.

While working odd jobs, Joe spent most of the money on heroin, crack cocaine and liquor. He committed his first three murders in 1994 when his girlfriend fled his house with their six-year-old son. He believed that his girlfriend, who was also a drug addict, left him for another man. He was burning with rage and spent most of the time on the street, looking for them.

One day, when he could not find her under the bridge (where she usually did drugs), two homeless men stated that they knew her but couldn’t provide further details. Methany killed these two men with an axe. Not only this, but he also killed a fisherman who may have seen him committing the killings. People thought that these killings were crimes of passion, but it was only the beginning for Joe.

Metheny spent a year and a half in county jail for the murders of the two men, awaiting trial. However, he was acquitted of any charges after he dumped their bodies in the nearby river and investigators couldn’t find them. Metheny did get some closure about his son’s whereabouts.

“I found out about six months later she had moved on the other side of town with some asshole that had her out selling her ass for drugs. They got busted for drugs and they took my son away from them for child neglect and child abuse,” he revealed back then. But what started as an act of revenge, turned into a sport for Metheny and what he did next, was beyond nerve-wracking.

Joe Metheny: The Human Hamburger Maker

Due to a lack of physical evidence, Joe Metheny went free and resumed his hunt for his missing wife and child. But this time, Joe Metheny did some unspeakable things as murdering people had become a sport for him. Soon after his release, Joe murdered two sex workers who could not offer information about his missing girlfriend. Instead of dumping their bodies in the river, Metheny got them home.

He dismembered them and stored the meatiest parts in Tupperware containers. Whatever couldn’t fit, he dumped it in a truck lot owned by the pallet company he worked for. What’s more horrifying is that he mixed the sex worker’s flesh with beef and pork and prepared neat little patties, which he sold out of a small barbecue stand on the side of the road.

Yea, while his customers enjoyed these human hamburgers, none of them was actually aware of what they were actually consuming. Ironically, these customers became an unwitting hiding spot for the bodies of Joe’s victims. Now, Joe would frequently head out and kill another sex worker or vagabond for more meat.

During his arrest, Joe revealed to the authorities that he never received complaints about the “meat tasting funny” and no one ever noticed that there was something extra in the patties. “The human body tastes very similar to pork,” he revealed to the police.

“If you mix it together no one can tell the difference … so the next time you’re riding down the road and you happen to see an open pit beef stand that you’ve never seen before, make sure you think about this story before you take a bite of that sandwich,” he added. Well, he surely had a fair share of the human flesh patties he prepared for his customers.

Joe Metheny’s Arrest

After escaping authorities for two years, Joe Metheny was finally caught in 1996 when his would-be victim, Rita Kemper, managed to escape his clutches and reported straight to the police. All this time, Metheny escaped punishment due to a lack of evidence. However, this interrogation was different.

This time, Metheny willingly offered up a confession. He confessed to killing almost 10 people and authorities stated that he had no intentions to stop if he wasn’t captured. He was tried in 1997 in the Kemper case and was sentenced to 50 years of kidnapping and attempted sexual assault. Apart from this, he was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of one, Kimberly Lynn Spicer.

During his trial, Joe Metheny shocked the authorities when he said, “The words ‘I’m sorry’ will never come out, for they would be a lie. I am more than willing to give up my life for what I have done, to have God judge me and send [me] to hell for eternity… I just enjoyed it.”

“The only thing I feel bad about in any of this, is I didn’t get to murder the two motherfuckers I was really after. And that’s my ex ole lady and the bastard she got hooked up with,” he continued. He claimed that he killed up to 10 people – mostly young, white, female sex workers. For most of those victims, police could never find any evidence.

During his interview, Joe revealed the horrifying nature of his crimes and what he did with the bodies of the victims. Some, he dumped in the Patapsco River and some, he sold as human hamburgers to other people.

In Joe Metheny’s own words, “I cut the meat up and put it in some Tupperware bowls then put it in a freezer. I opened up a little open-pit beef stand. I had real roast beef and pork sandwiches. They were very good. The human body taste was very similar to pork. If you mix it together no one can tell the difference.”

While we do not know how many people consumed what Metheny prepared, he later admitted, “So, the next time you’re riding down the road and you happen to see an open-pit beef stand that you’ve never seen before, make sure you think about this story before you take a bite of that sandwich.”

What Happened To Joe Metheny?

The jury found Joe Metheny guilty and sentenced him to death. However, this verdict was overturned in 2000 by another judge, who changed it to two consecutive life sentences. On August 5, 2017, Joe was found unresponsive in his cell at the Western Correctional Institution in Cumberland at around 3 p.m. and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. He was 62 years old at the time of his death.

When we speak of serial killers like Joe Metheny, Hannibal Necter, Jeffery Dahmer and many others, these sick and twisted individuals were not created in a vacuum. In Metheny’s case, his homicidal mania was the result of a terrible upbringing, excessive drug use, his bitter experiences in the army, homelessness, and abandonment by his girlfriend. But turning his victims into hamburgers? That takes another level of maniac!

I am Mallika Singh, a lawyer and writer by profession. Writing gives me a sense of freedom and independence. I am a keen observer and an ardent reader. When not at work, you can find me at the stable. Horse riding is another passion that keeps me going.


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