The true story of a monster that terrorized a German village for years with unspeakably cruel crimes and murders
In the late 16th century, the town of Bedburg, Germany was terrorized by a diabolical creature that slaughtered its cattle and snatched away its women and children, killing them with unspeakable morbidity. The shocked and horrified townspeople feared that they were being victimized by a raving demon from Hell or, just as bad, a bloodthirsty werewolf who lived among them.
This is the true story of Peter Stubbe – the Werewolf of Bedburg – whose crimes plunged a German town already beset by political and religious turmoil into an unimaginable nightmare, and whose heinous murders rival the bloody viciousness of any of today’s most gruesome slasher movies.
WARNING: The extreme cruelty of the crimes in this case, detailed below, are highly disturbing and not for the squeamish, faint-of-heart or young children.
Peter Stubbe (also documented as Peter Stube, Peeter Stubbe, Peter Stübbe and Peter Stumpf, as well as the aliases Abal Griswold, Abil Griswold, and Ubel Griswold) was a wealthy farmer in the rural community of Bedburg, located in the electorate of Cologne, Germany. The community knew him as a pleasant enough widower and father of two adolescent children, whose wealth insured him a measure of respect and influence. But this was Peter Stubbe’s public face. His true nature erupted through some black scar in his soul to satisfy a bloodlust when he donned the skin of a wolf.
At the time, Catholicism and Protestantism were at war for the hearts and minds of the populace, which brought invading armies from both faiths to Bedburg. There were also outbreaks of the dreaded Black Plague. So conflict and death were no strangers to the people of the region, which perhaps provided fertile ground for the awakening of Stubbe’s foul deeds.
For many years, farmers around Bedburg were mystified by the strange deaths of some of their cows. Day after day for many weeks, they would find cattle dead in the pastures, ripped open as if by some savage animal.
The farmers naturally suspected wolves, but this was actually the beginning of Peter Stubbe’s unnatural compulsion to mutilate and kill. This insatiable drive would soon escalate into attacks on his neighboring villagers.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Children began to disappear from their farms and homes. Young women vanished from the paths they traveled daily. Some were found dead, horribly mutilated. Others were never found. The community was thrown into a panic. Hungry wolves were again suspected and the villagers armed themselves against the animals.
Some even feared a more devious creature – a werewolf, who could walk among them unsuspected as a man, then transform into a wolf to satisfy its hunger.
This was the case. Although he did not literally transform into a wolf, Peter Stubbe would cloak himself with the skin of a wolf when seeking his victims. At his trial Stubbe confessed that the Devil himself gave him a magic belt of wolf fur at age twelve that, when he put it on, transformed him into “the likeness of a greedy, devouring wolf, strong and mighty, with eyes great and large, which in the night sparkled like brands of fire; a mouth great and wide, with most sharp and cruel teeth; a huge body and mighty paws.” When he took the belt off, he believed, he returned to his human state.
Peter Stubbe was a deranged serial killer, and over the course of his murderous career, he was responsible for the deaths of 13 children, two pregnant women and numerous livestock. And these were no ordinary murders:
- The young women among his victims were sexually assaulted before he tore them apart.
- With the pregnant women, he ripped the fetuses from their wombs and “ate their hearts panting hot and raw,” which he later described as “dainty morsels.”
- Small children were strangled, bludgeoned and throats ripped open with his bare hands. Some were disemboweled and partially eaten.
- Lambs and calves were ripped apart and devoured raw.
In one instance of a triple murder, Stubbe saw two men and a woman taking a walk just outside the city walls of Bedburg and he crouched hidden out of sight behind some brush. He called out to one of the men by name with the pretense that he needed help with some lumber. When the young man joined him out of sight of the others, Stubbe bashed his head in. When the man didn’t return, the second young man went looking for him, and was likewise killed. Fearing danger, the woman began to flee, but Stubbe managed to catch her. The men’s battered bodies were later found, but the woman’s never was, and it was thought that Stubbe, after raping and killing her, might have eaten her completely.