Peter Stumpp--The Werewolf of Bedburg, Germany
by Christine B. © 2011
In 1582 the residents of the small town of Bedburg, Germany were petrified because of the unexplained horrible murders and disappearances that were taking place. The victims were slashed and mutilated in such a violent manner that the only explanation the authorities could come up with is that there was a werewolf living among them.
Peter Stumpp went by many aliases, the last names of Stube, Stubbe, Stibbe, Stumpf, as well as Abal, Abil, and Ubel Griswold.
We will refer to him as Peter Stumpp for the sake of this article. Stumpp was a wealthy farmer in the small town of Bedburg, Germany, which was a suburb of Cologne. His neighbors considered him a pleasant widower and father of two children. As is often the case, his private persona was quite different from his public one.
The mystery began when the other farmers of the area began finding their cattle mutilated savagely in their fields. At first wolves were suspected to be the offenders, but when children and then women also began to disappear and at times be found horribly murdered, the town panicked. Wolf packs had not been known to kill so frequently in that area, so some came to realize that there was some other violent element involved.
What finally brought Stumpp to justice was the fact that his left hand had been cut off at one point, the reason for this last name alias. A witness noticed the same appendage missing on the wolf-like creature observed at the scene of one of the murders. During his trial Stumpp told the courtroom that the Devil had given him a magical belt made of wolf fur when he was a boy of twelve. When Stumpp wore the belt it transformed him into a fierce wolfen creature who was much larger and more blood thirsty than a normal wolf. When the belt was removed, he would return to his normal human identity.
Stumpp was one of the most deranged serial killers on record. He was responsible for the deaths of over 13 children, two pregnant women and numerous animals that they know of, and probably of many more murders that were never solved. His killing rampages went on for years before he was finally captured. Not only were the murders unusually violent and horrifying, but there were also instances of cannibalism involved. He was considered a werewolf, and could well have been the inspiration for many authors of this sort of folklore.
In 1590 a pamphlet was published about Stumpp. One of the only two English translations of the original German publication that still exists is now kept by the British Museum. Author, Montague Summers published a book, The Werewolf, about Stumpp in 1920. This publication goes into great detail regarding the serial killer’s life and brutal crimes.