In the late 1500’s, in Bedburg, Germany, the fear of the dark and unknown was as real an illness as cancer. People rarely ventured forth from the safety of their homes after twilight. The fear of being taken by some unknown being, or ripped apart by a ravenous monster were at the forefront of their minds; especially those who lived in small villages skirted by dense wilderness. In that age, a legend was born that has survived countless generations; some 500 years. This would be one of the first well documented werewolf legends in history of a man-beast first preying on helpless children, before eventually turning his attention to larger victims; ultimately raping, killing and devouring them in a most brutal and savage manner. The villagers of those dark times said the killer was a werewolf, and held constant prayer vigils in hopes God would save them from such a horrible fate. As the body count rose, the search for the perpetrator was on. The people of Bedburg had no idea the man responsible for the atrocities committed in the forest areas around their town was, in fact, one of their own.
His name was Peter Stubbe, and like most of the people in the town, he had two children; a daughter and a son. Similar to other suspected werewolves, Peter was a very private kind of person; trusting no one and mostly staying to himself. His paranoia even went so deep as to keep him from remarrying after his wife died. It is rumored that, according to his confession, he turned his lustful eyes to his daughter, who he raped repeatedly over the course of her short life. It was also said that, of his two children, he found great joy in spending time with his son. However, the greediness of his wolf-like nature drove him to lure his beloved into the darkness of the woods, where he then brutally attacked and killed the boy; eating the flesh from his throat and sucking the brain from within his head. Stubbe would later recount the gory tale; saying that the boy’s brain was a succulent and delicious morsel.
Peter’s vicious murder and feeding frenzy continued, as children disappeared from the village at an alarming rate. Bodies of the victims were sometimes found ripped into pieces, and then again, sometimes only pieces of the victim’s bodies were ever found. Bloodstained trees and rocks, along with gore covered patches of snowy ground was a common scene when one of their bodies was discovered. The brutality was unbearable and weighed heavily on the hearts parents, as the death rate for infants in that day and age was over 50%. Those infants who were lucky enough to survive were then finding themselves in the unfortunate situation of being cannibalized by an inhuman monster. It was a series of events which were soul-shattering for some. Priests gave last rites almost on a weekly basis, as the constant prayer vigil at the local chapel continued daily. They believed that if this beast was from the devil, then only the loving hand of God could save them, and more importantly, their children.
Within the village, there were some who had great suspicion the beast committing the bloody crimes was in fact Peter Stubbe. Unfortunately for three of them, they never acted upon their suspicions but must have let something slip because Peter decided to lay a trap for the trio. He watched patiently as the three made their way into the woods on a trek to gather supplies. As he lurked just beyond their line of sight, in true werewolf fashion, he supposedly called out to one of them; luring the man away from the two others. The man thought it was his friend and went to help him, but he was struck down by Peter; ripped to pieces in mere seconds. After a few minutes, the other man left the woman companion to go see what was taking so long. Again, Peter waited behind a tree for the right moment to strike. When the second man was in range, he leapt out and savagely mauled him with an axe, and then chewed the flesh off his face and neck. The third traveler, a woman, was left all alone and defenseless in the woods at dusk. Peter took great delight in her mental anguish, as he stalked her; sending her fleeing deeper into the woods, and ultimately her grisly doom.
After the three didn’t return from their expedition, a search party was established and sent out to find them. What they found were their mutilated and broken bodies, ravaged by a creature at the time they called “the Werewolf of Bedburg”; later become one of the oldest werewolf legends on record.
Soon after the murders, parents became desperate to protect their children and added stiff collars to their coats for added protection against the beast. Parents were wise to not let their children go just around the corner, as the werewolf could take them at any time. No one wanted to find another scene of such grotesque horror as the one found in the woods. Peter’s next target was a child who, unbeknownst to him, had a safety collar inside her coat. He attacked with ferocity; lashing out with his teeth and finger nails, but couldn’t penetrate the collar. As chance would have it, this would become Peter’s last attack because the child’s screams alerted nearby farmers who came to help and Peter was later apprehended.
Peter was tortured severely, upon which he confessed to being a werewolf claiming he made a pact with Satan, who imbued him with the ability to change into a hungry, greedy wolf. He was executed in a most heinous manner; his body broken and beheaded. While justice may have been served with Peter’s execution, a terrible tragedy was, while a victim herself, Peter’s daughter was burned alive beside him to end his bloodline.
What are the chances the first recorded serial killer in history is also the first recorded werewolf in history?