"I used to eat the thighs, 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."
Dorángel Vargas Gómez, a.k.a. "The People Eater", was a cannibalistic Venezuelan serial killer.
Vargas was born in 1957 to poor farmers who worked with the Venezuelan Liberation Forces in the Colombian border to patrol jungles alongside the guerillas, who would claim that Vargas was possessed by evil spirits. At some point in his life, Vargas lost contact with his family and became a transient, committing petty crimes such as chicken and cattle theft. In 1995, Vargas was arrested for the murder of another transient man whom he cannibalized, and was subsequently institutionalized. Vargas managed to escape and began living in a ranch at a park in the city of San Cristobal, Táchira state. Vargas murdered and ate several people in the park. Despite his efforts to hide the bodies, evidence of his crimes were found by police, though they assumed that the area was the burial ground for victims of drug dealers or even a satanic death cult. Further investigation revealed that all victims were previously reported missing. Vargas soon became a suspect in the murders and when police searched his shack, they found multiple vessels containing human flesh and body parts.
Due to the country's lack of serial killer history, Vargas became a media sensation, being nicknamed "The Hannibal Lecter of the Andes" by the press, as a reference to the fictional cannibal of same name. A psychological evaluation was inconclusive, as psychiatrists did not know if he was sane or mentally ill, though it was concluded that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had psychopathic tendencies. Not long after his arrest, people began to speculate if Vargas was truly the killer, some even theorized that Vargas was the fall guy for an organ trafficking ring; these claims were dismissed by police, as they were certain that they had captured the killer due to Vargas' status as a violent cannibalistic criminal even before the serial killings had started. During a mutiny in the prison Vargas was being held, he and 40 other men brutally murdered a robber who had been arrested in 2015 and two other inmates, they were then "hanged to bleed", dismembered, and their bodies parts served to the starving inmates by Vargas.
"Human meat is nice, but I eat all kinds of meat, dog, cats, lizards. I buried the heads and feet and threw the other bones into the river. 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."
Vargas targeted male and healthy passerby, such as athletes, laborers, and in some occasions, drunkards, as he avoided killing women, children, and fat people because of high cholesterol levels or old people because of their "contaminated flesh". Vargas would bludgeon his victims to death with a tube-shaped metal spear or rocks, dismembering and cannibalizing their bodies afterwards, keeping the body parts in vessels. According to Vargas, he preferred to eat the muscles; thighs and calves being a "personal favorite", and allegedly using the tongues to make stew and removing the eyes to include them in a soup, but trying not to eat the hands, feet, noses, ears and testicles. Vargas had no refrigerator to store the body parts, and because of this, they would decompose quickly, resulting in him having to kill victims routinely. The body parts he did not consumed would be buried around his shack and the bones would be thrown in a local river. During the mutiny, the victims were all fatally stabbed, dismembered, and eaten by the Vargas and his fellow inmates.
- Unspecified date in 1995: Baltazar Cruz Moreno
- Unspecified dates between November 1998 and January 1999: Ten unnamed victims
- September 8-October 7, 2016: The Táchira Detention Center riot:
- Juan Carlos Herrera, Jr., 25 (beaten, stabbed, hanged and dismembered post-mortem along with the two below)
- Anthony Correa
- An unnamed inmate
On Criminal Minds
Vargas is similar to cannibalistic serial killer Floyd Feylinn Ferell, as both were serial killers and cannibals with body counts in the double-digits, targeted healthy victims with the belief that their flesh would taste better (although Floyd's initial victims were drug users), and committed crimes prior to their murders that sent them to psychiatric facilities. Also Floyd's murders involving Satanism is an allusion to the Venezuelan police suspecting Vargas' victims were killed as part of Satanic cult rituals.