Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A visit to the twisted world of alleged cannibal Matej Curko

Matej Curko.

The offer was mutually advantageous, Kanibm claimed. If you wanted to end your life, you only had to come to a place in the woods of Slovakia where he would be happy to kill you if you agreed. He would do it in such a way that you would die quickly and painlessly, since he offered to drug you first before stabbing you in the heart. There was just one catch for those worried about what would happen to their remains afterwards: once dead, Kanibm would cut your body into pieces and then eat you.

It would have been easy to dismiss his online solicitations as the rants of an online crank or someone seeking a partner in an S&M fantasy in which no one would really die. But after police scrutinized his online records and found the bodies in the woods, it became apparent that Kanibm was deadly serious.

Kanibm’s real name was Matej Curko. He was a computer programmer and lived in the small Slovakian village of Kysak. While he mostly kept to himself when at home, the local villagers said they never had any problems with him during the seven years he lived there with his wife and two young daughters. Before a special police team stormed his hideout where they found dismembered bodies and other gruesome evidence, the locals said they would never have  taken Curko for a serial killer, much less a cannibal.

The Swiss Citizen Who Wanted to Be Eaten

Police were tipped off by a Swiss citizen who had responded to one of Curko’s posts soliciting someone who wanted to die and to be eaten afterwards. But before going to the police, the Swiss citizen at least seemed interested in Curko’s offer. The two emailed each other a few times before they agreed to meet in Slovakia. Curko very clearly communicated what he wanted and planned to do. In the emails, Curko was also specific about the kind of clothes he wanted the Swiss man to wear when they would meet.

Map of Eastern Europe with Kysak marker.

Curko described in detail how he was going to drug the man before stabbing him in the heart. He detailed how he would then cut his body into different parts and begin eating him. He would coat the parts of the body that he would not eat right away with pepper, in order to hide the inevitable stench of rotting flesh that would otherwise attract attention from someone passing by in the woods or animals scavenging for food.

Before travelling to Slovenia to meet his would-be killer, the Swiss man had second thoughts and alerted police. Local police knew by then that Curko was very likely a murderer. A spokesman for the Kysak police department said that they were already privy to his online posts. However, they decided to gather more evidence against him before making an arrest.

An undercover agent assumed the role of the Swiss man and took a train to the village. Once there, he walked in the woods to meet Curko at the designated spot. He came to the meeting wearing the clothes that Curko had requested, with a wire underneath so police could listen in and intervene when needed.

It turned out that that Curko had not only meticulously planned  how he would kill and eat his victim, but he had already prepared to defend himself if he were attacked. When the agent identified himself and prepared to apprehend Curko, Curko promptly drew one of the four firearms he was registered to carry and threatened to shoot. A sniper from a special police team hiding nearby promptly shot Curko several times. Before crumpling to the ground, Curko managed to shoot and severely injure one of the SWAT team members.

The injured policeman was rushed to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. After spending a few days in the critical care unit, he managed to pull through. Curko, on the other hand, didn’t make it. The five shots he took caused extensive organ damage and also shattered bones in his arms and face. He died on the operating table less than 48 hours after the sniper had shot him.

A Macabre Trail

Police were unable to question Curko before he succumbed to his injuries, but he had left behind a macabre trail that made him a person of interest in several dozen missing person cases. He had showed up to meet his intended victim carrying a knapsack packed with sedatives, bottles of vodka, spices (presumably to mask the odor of rotting flesh), a gas lighter, gloves, and other items, the Slovakian newspaper the Cas reported.  He had also kept carving tools, knives, and rope and an arsenal of pistols and shot guns with plenty of ammunition in the woods.

A candle and makeshift altar were also found, although it was unclear what, if any, type of spiritual practice Curko associated with killing and eating his victims. He never discussed with anyone, either online or in person, that he was involved in a religious or cult activity that might explain how he might have incorporated his makeshift altar in his ritual of dissecting and eating human bodies.

But the most disturbing finding was the discovery of the bodies of two women in the woods. The police were tipped off by a file Curko had saved on his home PC that listed the GPS position of where the bodies were located.  Police found the dismembered corpses wrapped in plastic foil in a shallow grave in the forest near Curko’s altar. Police discovered some of their body parts stored in the family freezer as well as.  One was naked while the other woman’s clothes had not been removed. Police determined that a photo of body parts that Curko had sent to his intended victim in Switzerland belonged to the two women.

One of bodies was determined by DNA sampling and other tests to belong to a 20 year-old Slovenian woman who had been missing for over a year. The young women had a history of mental illness and had attempted suicide in 2008. Her Facebook posts portended more than just pleas for help; she made it clear that she wanted to die. Curko allegedly zoned in on the young woman’s online persona and convinced her to meet him in the forest near his village. Like he attempted to do with the Swiss man, Curko allegedly described in unequivocal terms what he wanted to do to her in his emails and chat messages.

After Curko’s death, Interpol has sought to establish conclusive links between Curko and dozens of missing persons. Curko’s double life as an alleged cannibal may be linked to 30 missing women in Italy alone, the Italian newspaper the Corriere della Sera reported.  The women were aged age 25 to 28 and disappeared between 2009 and 20011, when Curko was killed. However, their bodies have not been found. The Corriere della Sera also reported that someone from Italy was mentioned in an email exchanges between Curko and the Swiss ma, but have been unable to confirm the person’s identity.

Investigators have also been unable to access Curko’s complete online history. Laws in Slovakia prevent Internet service providers from archiving email and other electronic messages for more than two years. It is thus impossible for authorities to analyze most of Curko’s online activity before 2009.

Police have also not been forthcoming about what they have been able to piece together about Curko’s psychological state after combing through his online records and other evidence he left behind. His family members have not issued statements to the press, either, that might have accounted for Curko’s highly unusual behavior.

Few traces of Curko’s past life remain in the village, where the locals hardly knew him before he became world famous as an alleged cannibal. Curko’s wife and kids have reportedly left the village.

Police have removed Curko’s makeshift altar and tools with which he used to cut up bodies from the forest and have relocated the bodies of the two young women. It is very likely that Curko may have died with a great number of secrets about his practice of cannibalism that investigators will never uncover.

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Sources on following page. 

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