The Butcher of Hannover

Christy Eidson
27 min readMay 28, 2020

The monumental question that seems to have no answer is: Are monsters born or are they created? Are serial killers helpless against their destiny or are they making the conscious choice to kill? Is it predetermined in their DNA or do their circumstances create the perfect storm for their destruction? In the early 20th century, the term “serial killer” had not been coined as of yet. The term “Serienmörder”, or serial-murderer, was used in 1930 to describe Peter Kürten, a German murderer. Peter Kürten was found to have killed at least nine victims. Fritz Heinrich killed at least two dozen, possibly as many as seventy or more. This is his story.

Friedrich “Fritz” Heinrich was born on October 25, 1879, in Hannover, Germany. He was the sixth child born into poverty to a sickly mother and a violent father. Having no money, he was forced to play with his sisters’ dolls, and he often played “dress up” in their clothes. Fearing any harm may come to him, his overprotective mother, Joanna, encouraged Fritz to participate in less boy-like activities which may cause him to become scraped or scarred. Having no positive male role models, Fritz developed a more effeminate demeanor which made him a target for schoolyard bullies. This femininity caused strife between him and his father, who threw words like “sissy” and “pansy” at him like sharp, cutting daggers.

Fritz struggled in school, both scholastically and socially, which only fueled the angst that his father, Ollie, felt toward him. When Ollie’s frustration and anger toward Fritz came to a head, his father sent him away to a military boarding school. His stay was short-lived due to a series of seizures.

Over the years, Fritz held a job at a cigar factory until he was arrested for molesting a child. He was confined to a mental institution after being deemed as psychologically unfit to stand trial. Upon his release, he was issued to be enlisted in the military. Becoming a soldier was something that greatly appealed to Fritz. He needed the structure and discipline that was lacking in his youth. Every minute of his day was accounted for. This was beneficial to Fritz, because it kept his longing feelings at bay. His compulsion was ever consuming. His thoughts became obsessive, not only to touch a child, but to draw blood. The thoughts alone were tantalizing and thrilling. Military life gave him much less opportunity for these things to occupy his time and his thoughts, as well as actions.

For the next few years, he grew into a successful soldier with great potential, until tragedy struck. In October of 1901, his glowing career abruptly ended during an exercise. He began suffering from severe dizzy spells and epileptic fits that ultimately required hospitalization for weeks at a time. The military doctors found him unsuitable for service, and he was discharged. This loss devastated him and plunged him into a deep depression. The absence of this structure increased his sense of inferiority that he had brushed to the side after enrolling in the military. That dark, boding lack of self-esteem had been overshadowed by the confidence that he gained with his military experience. But that had now diminished. The discharge only intensified his self-loathing and fueled his inner-hate.

After being sent home to his parents, his life became more dysfunctional. The tension with his father was ever-present, and his mother was gravely ill. He drew a meager pension from the military. After several attempts to open his own business failed, he turned to petty burglaries for money, which kept him in and out of jail for the next few years. He became very adept in lock-picking as he had been an apprentice locksmith prior to his entering the military. This came in quite handy in his career as a conman and thief. The attention that he garnered from these frequent arrests was unwanted, so he decided to stay under the radar. With the start of World War I, the country became distracted, and the focus on Fritz had decreased.

With a great many men off to the war effort, Fritz managed to find work in the local butcher shop. Domestic help was scarce due to the shortage of able-bodied men, as most were off to war. This gave Fritz an opportunity that he may not have been presented otherwise. He quickly learned this new trade and took great pride in his work. Old man Karl had owned the butcher shop for thirty years and was contemplating his retirement. He felt that grooming Fritz to take over the establishment was the next logical step seeing as he had no heirs of his own. They had come to an agreement that Fritz would lease the business from Karl after his apprenticeship was complete. This was the first time that Fritz felt that his life had purpose and direction since the military. He applied the same focus and drive in his work that he had once put in his more nefarious actions of the past.

Fritz was living in a one-room apartment just blocks from the train station. It was small and not much more than a closet with a cot-sized bed one the corner. The hallway of each floor of the building had one shared bathroom for each of the adjoining rooms. A small table sat in the makeshift kitchen area with two chairs situated on either side of the table.

The train station was positioned almost directly between his apartment and the butcher shop. One September day as Fritz was walking from the butcher shop to home, he noticed a strikingly handsome young man standing outside the train depot. His name was Freddie, and he was a seventeen-year-old runaway from the neighboring town. Fritz was quite drawn to the smooth yet firm flesh of younger adolescent men. He couldn’t help be focused on the top button of Freddie’s shirt. From that point, he could nearly wonder if the young lad had a hairless chest, which he preferred. No hairs seemed to peek out from the collar. Freddie couldn’t help but notice his stare.

“Hey. How are you?” Freddie broke Fritz’s stare with a conversational salutation.

“Good. You look lost,” Fritz retorted.

“Yeah, my next train doesn’t leave for another three hours, so I have to kill some time here,” replied Freddie. “Anywhere to get a pint around here?”

“Are you even old enough to drink?” inquired Fritz.

Freddie sheepishly looked down at his feet and squeaked out a slight “beer”. That alerted Fritz that he was between sixteen and eighteen, just the age range that enticed him the most. This age was developed physically while still being pure and naïve. The slightest touch erupted younger men in trembles of anticipation and also fear. This piqued Fritz’s interest greatly.

Fritz coaxed Freddie back to his apartment only a few blocks away with the promise of harder liquor than the young fellow would not be able to obtain in the local public house. This intrigued the young man, and he was quickly in tow back to Fritz’s modest flat.

There they engaged in some light chit-chat while sipping some rotgut whiskey. As they laughed and drank, Fritz began scooting his chair closer and closer to Freddie’s. After about an hour, Freddie became quite a bit tipsy and asked for the toilet. Fritz directed him to it and told him to hurry back. During Freddie’s absence, Fritz began to take off his shirt and undo his belt. Freddie re-entered with a start at Fritz’s most casual appearance and demeanor. Tension grew, both unease and sexual.

“Let me pour you another drink,” Fritz said.

Freddie nervously fumbled for words, responding, “No, I’ve got to be going. I don’t want to miss my train.”

Before he knew it, Fritz pounced on him like a wild animal on its helpless prey. Fritz eagerly went in for a kiss, and Freddie reluctantly engaged before pulling away. This angered Fritz, and he flew into a frenzy. His rage consumed him so much that he blacked out during the episode. When he awoke, he found an unconscious Freddie laying feet from him, with a bright red line of blood creeping down the side of his face from the corner of his mouth flowing to and joining another line of blood coming from his nose. What appeared to be teeth marks surrounded the Adam’s apple area of Freddie’s throat.

Instead of panic, Fritz was filled with a sense of wonder as he examined the blood as a child watching a butterfly flutter from flower to flower. He sweetly and gently stroked the side of Freddie’s still warm face as if he could somehow muster care and concern. He could taste the iron of the blood in his mouth. He enjoyed the taste and yearned for more.

No one gave a second thought to blood stains on Fritz’s shirt. After all, those were common for someone of his trade. The neighbors paid no attention to the smell of meat being boiled in his apartment. Of course, a butcher would bring home various cuts of meat from his job. He thought his situation was flawless. Disposal of the carnage seemed nearly effortless.

Freddie’s parents grew concerned with days turned to weeks without hearing word from their son. Determined, they retraced his steps to the town of Hannover to the very train station that he stepped off. They talked to as many people as they could find with no luck. Finally, they came upon two young men around Freddie’s age. They showed the boys a picture of Freddie and asked if they had seen him. They looked over the picture with intent and saw some familiarity in his eyes. It occurred to them that Freddie did, indeed, look like a young man they met while on the train to Hannover. While their conversation with him was brief, you did recall him speaking with the local butcher’s apprentice before they boarded the train.

They quickly hurried down the street to the butcher’s shop to see if they could question the young apprentice, but alas, he was nowhere to be found. Their next stop was the local police station where they begged the constable to look into their newfound lead. Initially, they were dismissed, but upon their pleading eyes and the mother’s tearful woes, the officer agreed to check on Fritz at his apartment.

As they walked to the apartment door, the officers could hear groaning as if someone were in pain and struggling. One officer urgently pounded on the door with a deep, forceful “Police, open up!” The door slowed creaked open to reveal the left eye of Fritz peering out.

“We heard a commotion in there,” said the officer.

“Yes, my friend and I were having a wrestle. Just good fun,” replied Fritz.

The officer asked, “Are you Fritz Heinrich?”

“Why, yes, I am. Is something wrong?”

“We need to ask you a few questions,” the officer said as he and the other officer stepped forward to make their way into the one-room apartment. Fritz briefly hesitated, but then stepped aside as they entered. They surveyed the room to find its simple furnishings. One the bed was a half-dressed lad that looked to be barely fourteen if a day.

“Who is this?” one of the officers said, pointing to the young chap.

The young boy looked at Fritz in a panic as if he were going to be in trouble. Fritz regained his composure and with confidence spit out, “This is my cousin visiting from Hamburg.” The boy nodded in agreement.

The officers slowly meandered around the room, spying various objects. His poise masked Fritz’s underlying tension as the officers drew closer and closer to the “kitchen”.

“We understand that you were seen with a young man named Freddie Rothe a few weeks ago at the train station. Is that true?”

One of the officers handed a photograph of Freddie to Fritz for observation. Fritz studied the picture, remembering every curve of his dark tan face. He quickly snapped out of his trance with a retort, “Yes, I met him at the train station. We had a pint or two and that was that.”

“So you never saw him after that” inquired the officer.

Fritz quickly mustered a convincing response, “No, he said he had to catch his next train.”

The other officer asked, “Where was he headed?”

“He didn’t say. Is he in some kind of trouble? He isn’t a fugitive from justice, is he?” Fritz joked.

“No, he’s a runaway. His parents are looking for him, and you are the last person that we know of that has seen him.”

“Oh, no! What a shame. How frightening for his parents,” Fritz fabricated sympathy to mask his knowing.

“Well, let us know if you hear from him or see him again. And keep it down in here. We don’t want to get neighbor complaints about the noise.”

“Will do, Constables. Good day.”

As the officers exited, a sense of relief and anticipation showered over Fritz. The boy still had a confused and tense sense about him. Fritz locked the door and rested his forehead against it. He released a quiet sigh of ease. When the officers were inspecting the kitchen area, if they had looked behind the stove, they would have found Freddie’s mummified head. Using various methods of preserving meat such as dry-aging and salt-curing, he learned how to keep parts of the body as trophies to remember his encounters.

Fritz spent the next few years plying his trade and becoming quite accomplished in butchery. The work felt natural as though he were born to do it. One would even say he was passionate about his work. He had become a functioning and steady part of the community. And as old man Karl handed over the business to him, Fritz was now becoming a more prosperous man.

Local authorities were knowledgeable of Fritz’s checkered past including the awareness of his presumed closeted homosexuality, which was illegal at the time and punishable by imprisonment. One of his many confinements to prison involved him sodomizing a young male shortly after he left the army. He was very knowledgeable of the criminal enterprises that populated the area of the time. He used this history to make himself an asset to the police, and they gladly accepted his offer of assistance.

He fancied himself an informant of sorts for the local police, providing them with information on the area’s criminal underground. That did not stop his lewd and lascivious activities. This allowed him to redirect attention from himself and his own criminal activities. It also afforded him access to younger delinquents. He began committing misdemeanor sexual offenses that went unreported due to the shame that the victims felt.

The police paid less and less attention to Fritz as they had before because of all of the leads that he was providing them now. They had devised some operations where Fritz would be used as a pawn for fencing stolen goods through his butchery. These stings resulted in several arrests over the months. To reduce suspicion of Fritz being in cahoots, the police would “arrest” him during these raids along with the other criminals, yet releasing him afterward claiming a lack of evidence. The police began to rely on Fritz more and more which gave him a greater cloak of power and influence.

Fritz began to prey on young men from the nearby train station. Some were mere travelers on a stop-over in Hannover, while others were servicemen traveling for war. Many of these travelers were not Hannover natives, so they would not be recognized by the locals as being familiar in looks. Their absences would go unnoticed until much later.

People are often curious if evil is born or if it is created from circumstance. That question could be asked of Fritz. He had been largely coddled by his mother, and his teachers felt he was quite spoiled. His frequent disruptions in class lead him to be held after school in detention. At one of these moments, he had been molested by a male teacher. Could this have lead to his sexual confusion later in life, or was it something inborn?

As time passed, more and more young men met their demise after casually encountering Fritz and his butcher shop. An apartment above the butcher shop became vacant as part of Fritz’s lease agreement with old man Karl, and he promptly moved in. How convenient would it be for him to live so close to his work? But little did anyone else know, the shop was more than just a place for his daytime work. Fritz had learned from his meeting and dismembering of Freddie that he needed more space to work and a better location for cleaning up the inevitable mess that would follow.

About a half a mile from the train station was the Leine River. What a perfect location to give the bodies back to the earth. Fritz would discard the remains of his victims into the river for their existence to be erased by nature. Before he discovered this convenient location, Fritz had buried young Freddie in the Stockener Cemetery, which was mere feet from his apartment building. In the cover of night, he would not be seen disposing of his victims. The same could be said of the accommodating river.

The train station became a smorgasbord of young men just ripe for the picking. There, he found a bevy of delicious options from young male commuters to runaways and the occasional male prostitute. It was a lurid game of enticing these fellows to his apartment for a night of depravity and then killing them. Fritz would become so consumed with the moment that it felt as if another being completely took over. He became engrossed in the debauchery of the sexual acts as well as the viciousness of the murders. It was a deep obsession that he relished. The periods in between each killing became shorter and shorter as his need for blood grew stronger than his need for food or breath.

Disposal of the remains became a game in and of itself as well. The thrill of carrying body parts to the bank of the river while being undetected was a rush of adrenaline for him. One day, he became curious as he was dismembering Ernest, who was missing from running some errands for his parents. What would human flesh taste like? To Fritz, it did not look unlike that of a lamb that he filleted each and every day. He slowly rubbed a pat of butter on a heating cast iron skillet with the apprehension of the meat searing on the heat. The smell of the sizzling flesh had somewhat of a “gamey” scent, like that of fresh venison. His mouth watered as he turned the meat to get seared on the other side before gently placing it on the awaiting plate. He sat at his table, tucking a napkin into his bloodstained shirt. A dash of salt for seasoning, he slices a one-inch cube of his prize. The warmth was inviting to his lips and the taste was a savory-sweet. It was even better than he ever could have imagined. He couldn’t help but wonder if the meat was so tender because the boy was so young. After the age of twenty, he estimated that the meat would become more tough and stringy. Yes, sixteen was a fine age.

He went from retaining body parts as trophies to keeping items that belonged to the victims. Sometimes he would give them away as presents to unwitting friends. Other times, he would make a profit off the items by selling them through the web of the black market. On occasion, he would keep a trinket or two for himself like a nice leather wallet with the initial “H” engraved on the side.

And there seemed to be no reasonable excuse to discard a fine, new yellow overcoat. The double-breasted raincoat had belonged to Erich Heins, a runaway from the town of Limmer whom Fritz had met, like many others, at the train station. He offered the young man a hot meal and place to sleep for the night that the desperate lad could not resist. But Erich would not get any rest. Fritz attempted to seduce young Erich, and when his advances were rejected, Fritz flew into a rage. After the event had ended, Fritz was left standing over a dead Erich. The poor boy had been choked into unconsciousness and then sodomized while he lay senseless on the floor. Teeth marks decorated his throat as blood trickled down from Fritz’s lips.

After having tasted the delicacy of human flesh, it seemed a waste to discard free meat. He began butchering his victims in the shop. It had all of the tools at his ready. Draining them of their blood there made discarding the refuse much easier and less messy. He would sell the unused human flesh on the black market under the guise of being pork or horse meat. What a clever means of disposal!

Fritz’s pattern of behavior became more developed and repetitive. He would meet these young men, often runaways, at the train station. He would offer them food, booze, and a place to sleep for the night. This offer was comforting for the desperate delinquents who gladly and hastily accepted. Whether willing participants or not, Fritz made lovers of them. In the midst of passion, he was compelled to lacerate their throats by forcefully biting the Adam’s apple and crushing the trachea. Their deaths would be suffered by these “love bites” ending in asphyxiation. At times, these brutal bites would cause his teeth to completely sever the flesh. If they did not die from suffocation, they would from blood loss. After draining and dismembering the young men, their bodies were easily ditched into the Leine River which was very near the butcher shop and train station. The process was fulfilling and efficient.

Late October 1918, Fritz was trolling the train station when he made the acquaintance of Hans Bock. The twenty-year-old had run away from home when he was seventeen and lived hand to mouth ever since. Hans initiated the conversation with Fritz by attempting to sell him articles of clothing. Hans was nearly penniless after leaving home abruptly after an argument with his father three years earlier. This was a different encounter than usual for Fritz. Usually, he was the one that began the engagement with the youth, not the other way around. This intrigued Fritz. He offered to buy the young man a drink at the nearby public house, to which Hans quickly accepted.

Fritz rarely had bouts of empathy, if any, but seems quite taken by Hans. Their exchange of pleasantries turned to alluring conversations with more depth. Fritz found Hans very fetching, a very different connection than with the others. Hans took Fritz’s breath away with his straightforward and direct presence. He had never met a young man that was so assertive, teetering on aggressive, and he liked it.

Amid their exchange, Han took the initiative to directly propositioning Fritz. This took Fritz quite off guard, but excited him of the prospect.

“Would you be interested in a nightcap?” asked Hans.

“Whatever do you mean? Isn’t that what we’re doing now?” replied Fritz. The child-like enthusiasm had shown in his eyes.

Hans began negotiations, “I was thinking of something a bit more intimate if you are keen on such a thing. I could give you a very good time for about a two mark?”

Fritz mildly contemplated, “Two, aye? That sounds agreeable. Shall we?”

Fritz motioned toward the door for them to exit. Hans led the way toward the door. As they walked toward Fritz’s apartment, it was as though they were the only two on the street. Although Fritz knew this to be a monetary exchange that he had engaged in many times before, this time felt different. Dare he thinks that this may be love at first sight? Fritz had never felt romantic love before, or possibly any love as that was not a functioning part of his nature. Fritz did not have the capacity of emotion but could mimic it well to blend into the community. It could be said that Fritz rarely felt anything at all until he started playing his game of cat and mouse over a decade before. It was in that game that he felt desire, drive, and excitement. This felt stronger than any drug or drink that he could ever imagine.

Their passion could barely be contained as they entered the little one-room apartment. They began tearing at each other’s clothes as ravenous animals, clawing, and scratching at a maddening manner. The pleasure and pain meld into one seamlessly. They each enjoyed it immensely. They each took turns dominating the other, yet there was no fear or rage as Fritz had felt before. Had he found a worthy adversary? Fritz bit the side of Hans’ neck, but not nearly as ferociously as he had done with the others. Hans writhed in ecstasy and titillation.

As the encounter began to wind down, it did not end in the usual way. Hans lived. For some reason, Hans was different. Hans was twenty years his junior. Fritz felt the unlikely need for Hans’ approval. He craved his approval. He yearned for it. Hans quickly became his world and meant everything to him. At one moment, they were lovers. Other times, they had an almost father/son relationship. And at times, they were the best of friends.

Hans had become the accomplished petty thief and conman. He was strikingly good-looking which was mesmerizing for those who encountered him. His eyes were a piercing blue, and his smile was brilliant and inviting. He exuded charm to the extent that both women and men were drawn to him. He may have been young, but his street-smarts were beyond his years.

It didn’t take long before Fritz invited Hans to come to live with him, which Hans gladly accepted. Their relationship had its moment of turmoil as their passion would at times turn into violent, angry arguments. Fritz would banish Hans from their shared dwelling, but within a day or so, he would become manic, pleading for Hans to return home to him. He needed Hans to need him. This was the most compelling and consuming force in Fritz’s life, aside from his thirst for blood.

Instead of becoming a victim to Fritz, Hans ultimately worked a con on him. He maintained control in the relationship, and his influence over Fritz was very apparent. He knew that Fritz had diminished mental faculties which Hans was eager to take advantage of for his own gain and entertainment. Soon, Hans became a scout, seeking out possible victims for Fritz to enjoy. This came easy to Hans as he was a flesh-peddler of sorts. There were three ladies that he had been managing in harlotry for the past three years. His ill-gotten gains had kept him fed and clothed ever since he had abruptly left home.

Soon the pair became a cohesive unit. Hans would pick-pocket the unsuspecting at the train stations, and Fritz had the means to sell objects through his connections in the black market. It didn’t take long for Hans to figure out Fritz’s dirty little secret. Hans unexpectedly came home early one evening only to find Fritz standing over a lifeless body in the middle of the floor. Instead of being alarmed, he casually asked, “Should I return later?”

Instead of being put off by the discovery, Hans began to encourage the behavior. If walking down the street Hans spied a jacket that he fancied, he would point out the mark to Fritz. They would casually introduce themselves and spark up a conversation. Hans was quite charismatic and quickly made their targets feel at ease. While Hans did not participate in the murders themselves, he found it utterly erotic and intensely satisfying to encourage and watch.

As the seasons changed, the number of missing people increased. The police could not help but notice that the victims were all male and mostly within the age ranges of thirteen to twenty-two. This could not be a coincidence. Could these disappearances be connected?

On a late Spring day, some children were playing near the banks of the Leine River. As the cool breeze came off of the water, the children were digging the moist earth with sticks as children do. In their minds, they were looking for buried treasure possible from a pirate’s bounty, but what they unearthed was to be a prize that they did not expect.

The skull of a human was mere feet from them. As they ran off with screams of terror, they were stopped by a nearby constable who was on patrol. As the officer tried to calm them, they frantically told their story of their horrific finding.

Before long, the river bank was flooded with officers and other officials combing the area for other bones, which they found in abundance. The skull that the children initially found bore knife wounds. At first, the officials theorized that this must be discarded parts from the nearby anatomical institute or possibly discards from grave robbers. But alas, these theories were rejected with the number of parts found and the tool marks engraved into the bones. While some of the bones had clearly been in the water for some time, others appeared to have more fresh cuts on them.

The town was in a panic. Could there be a deranged murder among them?

As police and municipal workers dragged the river area, they recovered over 500 pieces of bone that, after analyzed, the specimens were determined to be from young males primarily between the ages of 14 and 18. Rumors began furiously circling. It was a great belief that something unnatural was afoot. There was talk of a river “werewolf’” being at large. This unprecedented finding spurred gossip of “man-eater” being in their midst. There was also talk that human meat may have been for sale in the public market! The rumors and speculation were endless.

The police began questioning every petty thief and deviant that they could find. After weeks of detective work, a suspect came to mind. Had the culprit been right under their noses this entire time? With a long history of criminal activity and sexual perversion, Fritz Heinrich became their primary suspect. He had a history of sexual assault on males, especially younger in age. He lived near the area that the bodies were found. He had a butcher shop where he could easily dismember the bodies with cuts similar to those found upon the discovered remains.

Fritz was very unassuming to the point of being friendly and courteous in nature and meek in appearance. He was of average height, but with a muscular, well-toned build. When not in the butcher shop drenched in blood, he was often seen as well-groomed with a trimmed, light brown mustache. He was talkative to detectives in the past as to almost insert himself into investigations. He had been an asset to them, so they did not initially find this odd or off-putting at first.

As suspicion for Fritz Heinrich grew, investigators decided to put him under surveillance in mid-June. Since he was a trusted informant, he knew most of the Hannover police force, so two officers were brought in from Berlin to go undercover to observe Fritz without the fear of him recognizing them. Fritz often scoured the train station under the guise of gaining information for the police to use, but what the officers didn’t know is that was also his hunting ground. He used the excuse that he was “patrolling” the area to aid the police.

He had even gone so far as to pose as a detective to lure one unsuspecting young man to his death. Graham Richards fell victim to Fritz after claiming that he was a local detective and may have a job for the plucky seventeen-year-old. What was there to fear, after all, he was part of the Hannover Police Station?

Days into following and observing Fritz, he was seen at the train station arguing with a fifteen-year-old Franz Karl. Fritz claimed that Karl had been traveling with forged documents and ordered that a nearby officer should arrest the fifteen-year-old. The officer obliged Fritz’s wishes, but upon his arrest, Karl eluded to the police that he had been held captive by Fritz for the past four days until his escape. At the police station, Karl broke down into tears, pleading with the officers for help. He informed them that he had been beaten and repeatedly raped by Fritz in his apartment over the butcher shop. This was the break that the investigators had been looking for.

The next morning, Fritz awoke to a heavy pounding on his door. He half expected this knock, but was still under the illusion that his work with the police made him above the law. He was promptly arrested and charged with sexual assault on a minor. This allowed probable cause for the detectives to search his room as well as the butcher shop. To their horror, they discovered blood-stained walls that ran down to the cover the floors as well. The bedding was now brown from the massive amounts of blood that they had held. Fritz explained that this was from his meat trade. While normally a convincing argument, it fell on deaf ears.

His open and approachable personality closed up once he began to be interrogated by officials. He nervously rubbed his fingertips as he became visibly uncomfortable and agitated. Any pleasantries from Fritz ceased as his face had become sullen. The investigators informed Fritz that neighbors and acquaintances had been questioned. How could he explain being seen with so many teenage boys? Or what about his late-night outings, carrying dark sacks as he walked toward the river. All this time, he had the impression that his activities had gone undetected by his neighbors.

In an interrogation room in the Hannover Police Station sat a table containing a multitude of articles of clothing and other personal effects. One after one, parents and family of reported missing youth were notified and called into the police station to peruse the items and see if they could identify any of the items as being those of their loved ones. These objects were once possessed by someone’s son or brother. Fritz hastily dismissed these revelations as being obtained through this trading. Who knew who owned them before he procured them?

His lies could not put a dent in the mountain of evidence that was accruing against him. Soon, a plethora of witnesses came forward identifying Fritz as being seen in the company of these victims before their demises. The documentation was overwhelming, and Fritz could no longer contradict what was facing him. He was becoming markedly distressed, resulting in a seizure. As he rived on the floor during the event, one of his sisters clung to him in an act of support. His sister, Mary, had been called by the police. She was familiar with these attacks as he had a history of epileptic seizures since his boyhood. Once the moment passed and he regained his composure, his sister pled with him to tell her the truth.

Alone in the holding room with Fritz, tears traced her face as she held his head in her hands. She couldn’t believe that this little boy that she used to play dress-up with could be this monster that the police were portraying. This was the same boy who had been tormented by bullies on the schoolyard and was the target of their father’s aggression. How could this weakling of a child have turned into such a heartless, unconscionable creature?

After the urging from Mary, Fritz decided to confess to the awaiting detectives. He conceded to the allegations that he did, indeed, rape, kill, and finally dismember and dispose of the young men in question. He could only describe his acts as rabid sexual passion, although, he insisted that he never meant to kill any of these victims. He could not control these urges, including the biting into and through their Adam’s apples. He explained that this happened as this was strangling them in the throes of passion. This allowed him to complete his sexual climax.

His description of dismembering his lovers was much like if he were describing the field dressing a deer after the hunt. He was methodical in approach, following each step accordingly. As a butcher, he understood the anatomy of animals and how to remove organs with minimal mess from blood loss. Before he would begin the procedure, he would swig a couple of shots of whiskey. He would place the body on the floor on top of a blanket. He would first remove the intestines and place them in a bucket. Towels were used to absorb the excess blood in the body cavity to reduce the mess. After breaking the rib cage, he removed the lungs, heart, kidney, and other organs. He would dice them up before adding them to the bucket. Next, he would remove each limb, filleting the flesh from them as well as the torso. Lastly, he would remove the head. He would strip the flesh from the head exposing the skull, which he would pound with a hammer or hatchet to gain access to the brain. The brain was then placed in the bucket. The process was tedious and time-consuming, but made the body more manageable to carry the distance to the bank and for the contents to be poured into the river. A bucket and a gunny sack seemed to do the trick. He thought that the Leine River would carry away all of his sins to never be discovered again.

In his confession, he only admitted to murders for which he saw the evidence. He teased, “There may be some that you don’t know about.” When questioned how many, he responded, “I’m not sure. Probably somewhere between fifty to seventy-five.” He was dismissive in his responses to the investigators. Each victim that he was asked about, he responded with a shrug of the shoulders and muttered things to the effect “I might have killed him. I’m not sure.” All in all, the police connected Fritz to 27 disappearances. When asked about Hans’ involved, Fritz venomously denied that he had any hand in the murders at all. The police knew that this could not be true.

Fritz went on trial for the murders of 27 individuals. Against Fritz’s insistence, Hans was also charged with being an accessory to murder, which he denied any involvement. One hundred and ninety people were witnesses for the prosecution including former neighbors, acquaintances, psychiatrists, police officers, as well as parents of the deceased victims.

The press was frenzied as Hannover had never seen a murder of this magnitude. The city was abuzz with gossip and fantastic stories. Due to the graphic nature of the crimes and the sexual element, the trial was not open to the public. The trial lasted a little over two weeks. Fritz was found guilty of 24 of the 27 cases and sentenced to 24 death sentences. The judge ordered death by the guillotine. Fritz did not show emotion, remorse or otherwise, when the decision was read by the judge. When asked by the judge if he had anything to say, his only response was “I accept the verdict.” Afterward, when asked how he felt about the verdict, he said, “My death will atone for my sins. If I were free, I would likely kill again.”

Hans was also convicted as it was claimed that he coerced Fritz into at least two of the murders. While Hans denied it and appealed his conviction, it was upheld, and he was sentenced to twelve years in prison for his involvement. After being released, Hans went on to live in a remote area of Germany until his death at the age of 80.

His face was pale white and his body gaunt as he approached the guillotine. At dawn on the morning of April 15, nearly one year after his final arrest, Fritz was beheaded by guillotine at the Hannover prison. Only a handful of witnesses were present to witness the death. His last words were, “I may be guilty, and I am prepared to leave this earth. I do not fear death.”

Years later, it has been questioned if Fritz Heinrich should have stood trial at all. Some question his mental capacity, but after being evaluated by municipal psychiatrists, he was deemed sane and accountable for his actions. Others contend that he suffered from undiagnosed mental illness, even though he had spent time in mental institutions in his youth and after the military. His head was obtained by the Gottingen Medical School to be analyzed and is permanently preserved in formaldehyde.

The remains of the victims were buried in a communal grave in the Stockener Cemetery. A large granite stone was placed at the site with each victim’s name memorialized upon it.

*This is based on a true story.*



Christy Eidson

Comedian, Actor, Writer, Podcaster, Youtube Content Creator, and Entrepreneur.