Peter Stumpp

Peter Stumpp

German farmer accused of a series of murders and cannibalism
Date of Birth: 31.10.1959
Country: Germany

Biography of Peter Stumpp

German farmer Peter Stumpp, also known as the 'Werewolf of Bedburg', was accused of a series of murders and cannibalism. He was notorious for his crimes and went by various aliases, including Abal Griswold, Abil Griswold, and Ubel Griswold. The surnames 'Stumpp' and 'Stumpf' were likely used because his left hand had been severed, leaving only a stump. Rumors circulated that when Peter transformed into a werewolf, this creature had no left front paw, making it difficult to identify the killer.

Peter Stumpp was born in the village of Epprath, near Bedburg, in the Electorate of Cologne. His exact date of birth is unknown, as the local church records were destroyed during the Thirty Years' War. However, it is known that Peter was a wealthy farmer and influential member of the rural community. By the 1580s, he was a widower with two children, a daughter named Beele or Sybil, who was over 15 years old, and a son. Several years before his trial, Peter entered into an intimate relationship with his distant relative Katharina Trump.

In 1589, Peter Stumpp became one of the most infamous and sinister werewolves in history to face trial. Under torture, he confessed to practicing black magic since the age of 12. He claimed that the Devil himself had given him a magical belt that allowed him to transform into a "voracious wolf, strong and powerful, with eyes that gleamed like fire in the night, a large and wide mouth with the sharpest and fiercest teeth, a huge body, and mighty paws." When Peter removed the belt, he returned to his human form.

For 12 years, Stumpp was allegedly a "ravenous bloodsucker," filling his belly with the flesh of goats, lambs, sheep, as well as men, women, and children. Under torture, he confessed to murdering 14 children and 2 pregnant women, whom he ate along with their unborn babies. One of the 14 children was his own son, whose brains he devoured. In addition to the accusations of murder and cannibalism, Stumpp was also accused of incestuous relationships with his daughter, who was sentenced to death alongside him, and his distant relative. Furthermore, Stumpp claimed to have communed with a succubus sent by the Devil.

On October 31, 1589, Stumpp was executed in the most horrific manner. He was subjected to breaking on the wheel, with the special wheel tearing pieces of flesh from his body at ten different places. His limbs were broken with the blunt side of an axe, to prevent him from escaping his grave after death, before he was beheaded and his body burned at the stake. His daughter and lover were "violated, flayed, and strangled" before being burned together with Stumpp's body. To deter others from following Peter's diabolical path, local authorities erected a pillar with a torture wheel and a wolf figure on top, with Peter's severed head placed on the very top.

This entire story was brought to light through a 16-page pamphlet published in London in 1590. It describes Stumpp's life, crimes, and trial, including testimonies from neighbors and witnesses. However, the pamphlet contains inconsistencies with historical facts. The years during which Stumpp was said to have committed most of his atrocities (1582-1589) coincided with the "internal" war in the Electorate of Cologne following the unsuccessful introduction of Protestantism by former Archbishop Gebhard Truchsess von Waldburg. He received support from Adolf, Count of Neuenahr, who later became the Lord of Bedburg.

Stumpp undoubtedly converted to Protestantism. The war brought invasions from both sides, soldier marauding, and ultimately, outbreaks of the plague. Murders and violence became commonplace during that time. When the Protestants suffered defeat in 1587, Bedburg Castle became the headquarters of Catholic mercenaries under the command of the new Lord of Bedburg, Werner, Count of Salm-Reifferscheidt-Dyck, who was determined to restore the Roman Catholic faith. It is possible that the "werewolf trial" was essentially a poorly disguised political process used by the new Lord of Bedburg to intimidate Protestants into returning to Catholicism. If it was simply another trial of werewolves and witch pairs, which was common at the time in various parts of Germany, it is remarkable that members of the upper aristocracy, including the probable new Archbishop and Elector of Cologne, were involved.

In addition, Stumpp's trial was the only case in which judges did not dismiss the paradigm of "werewolfism," that is, the belief that transformation into an animal was a disgusting delusion. The American rock band "Macabre" recorded a song about Peter Stumpp called "The Werewolf of Bedburg," which can be found on their album "Murder Metal." In the horror trilogy "Pine Deep" by writer and folklore expert Jonathan Maberry, Stumpp is portrayed as the supernatural villain Ubel Griswold (one of Peter's historical aliases).