In Tachira police station, in Venezuela, the South American country’s most notorious criminal cannibal is celebrating his birthday after once claiming to use tongues in stew and eyes in soup..
Serial killer Jose Dorangel Vargas Gomez, known as “El comegente” (the eater) and the “Hannibal Lecter of the Andes,” is being held in a basement cell in the police station, where even his jailers are afraid of him.
In 1999, Gomez confessed to killing and eating at least 11 men – although it’s believed that he may have killed as many as 40.
“Sure I eat people,” Gomez revealed. “Anyone can eat human flesh, but you have to wash and garnish it well to avoid diseases.
“I only eat the parts with muscles, particularly thighs and calves which are my favourite,” he added. “I make a very tasty stew with the tongue and I use the eyes to make a nutritious and healthy soup.”
Born on May 14 in 1957, Gomez was thought to be possessed by “evil spirits” from an early age, according to his family.
He became a drifter, committing petty crimes to get by, but in 1995 he was arrested on suspicion of killing and eating another homeless man.
Gomez has become a twisted sort of celebrity in a country that has very few serial killers. He told a TV interviewer that “human meat is nice, but I eat all kinds of meat, dog, cats, lizards.
“I buried the heads and feet and throw the other bones into the river,” he explained. “I also stored some meat in containers. The heart and the liver must be spiced up, If I was hungry I used to kill men, never women because they do no harm.”
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Gomez spent a short time in a mental institution, but managed to escape and again began living rough in a crude shack he constructed in a park in the city of San Cristobal.
Later, a significant quantity of human bones was found scattered around the hut, and a search revealed several jars containing human flesh and innards ready to be eaten, along with three human heads and several feet and hands.
There were reports that Gomez stalked the city at night, using a metal pipe as a “spear” to kill homeless people before eating their body parts. Other stories circulated that he had been “given” the bodies by rogue police officers or illegal human organ traffickers.
Gomez killed regularly, because he had "no fridge to keep the human meat fresh".
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Gomez said he preferred to eat men rather than women, and avoided eating his victims’ hands, feet or testicles, choosing to bury them instead.
“Although I’ve been on the point of trying them on various occasions,” he added. He says he wouldn’t eat old people because their flesh “is contaminated and very tough.”
The Venezuelan authorities were for some time unable to determine if Gomez was suffering from a mental illness, although he was eventually diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and psychopathic tendencies.
It was eventually decided to lock the cannibal up in cells beneath Tachira police station, but even there his killing did not stop.
During a jailhouse riot Gomez – with the help of some 40 other prisoners – brutally murdered three convicts who were then strung up and left to bleed out. Gomez then reportedly dismembered the bodies and is alleged to have given some parts to his fellow prisoners to eat.
Even after being locked up, Gomez continued to boast of his cannibalistic tendencies, and refused to accept that he should be imprisoned.
“I used to eat the thighs, he said, “not the nose ears or hands because they are too hard. If I saw a drunkard sleeping, I would kill him with my spear, cut his head off and feel happy, I want to go back there and dig a big hole to bury them.
“I don’t feel ashamed of anything. They have put me in this jail for nothing.”
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