Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bait and Switch: The Cannibal Crimes of Joachim Kroll

Becoming a Killer

Joachim Kroll
Joachim Kroll

Joachim Georg Kroll was born on April 17, 1933 into a mining family in Hindenburg, in the Upper Silesia area of Germany (now part of Poland).  By some accounts, he was the last of eight children, while others place him at the number six spot among nine.  He'd suffered from bed-wetting and had a weak constitution.  He never managed to achieve much and had an IQ of 76, considered well below average and nearly at the cut-off score for being labeled as mentally challenged.

His father became a prisoner of war in Russia during World War II, and never returned home.  After the war, the family moved to West Germany's North Rhine in 1947, finding a two-room home for eight of them to share.  Young Joachim had to contend with six sisters (some sources say four), because his brothers had already left home.  He went to school for about five years (Martingale indicates that it was three), and received the rest of his education on the farm.  In fact, he would later attribute his grisly behavior to things he had witnessed there.

Then early in 1955, when Kroll was 22 and still living at home, his mother passed away.  This may or may not have been traumatic for him, but it's probably related to the fact that only three weeks later, Kroll committed his first rape-murder.  Perhaps he was acting out his anger and grief, but it could just as easily be possible that he had finally felt free enough to act on sexually violent fantasies.

In 1957, he moved to Duisburg, attacking several women.  He found employment as a lavatory attendant for Mannesmann and then Thyssen Industries, eventually settling in Laar, a neighborhood of Duisburg.  He would often take trips to outlying towns to hunt for victims, usually while walking in wooded areas.  He used different methods to subdue his victims and erase them as witnesses, but generally preferred strangulation.


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