Cannibalism is one of mankind’s oldest taboos. For a variety of reasons, the mere thought of consuming human flesh fills most of us with revulsion and dread. Even if we found ourselves in a life-and-death situation, faced with death by starvation, I imagine that many of us would not be able to bring ourselves to eat our fellow companions. In the infamous incident involving the Donner Party, some of the ill-fated group were forced to consume the flesh of their fallen travelers in order to fend off starvation. This story has become part of the popular lexicon, perhaps because we find the thought of such a situation utterly horrifying.
But cannibalism isn’t just something that happens far away and long ago. It has happened right here, in East Texas, in the middle of nowhere. And it has happened not so long ago, at all.
It has happened here for many reasons and for many, many years.
Stories about cannibalism in East Texas were recorded in the early 18th century, when a French explorer named Jean Baptiste Le Moyne sent three of his companions to explore the Gulf Coast near Galveston Bay. Allegedly, a tribe of native inhabitants captured the three men and ate one of them.
Members of the Atakapa and Akokisa nations of East Texas were rumored to consume human flesh. However, it is most likely that these reports were exaggerated and this cannibalism only occurred rarely, for ritualistic purposes.
However, others in East Texas attempted cannibalism for darker purposes.
In 2013, 28-year-old Dylan Quick stormed onto his college campus and launched a knife attack, wounding many students. After the attack, Quick stated that he had fantasies of consuming human flesh.
But where this lone attacker failed in his plot to commit cannibalism, another East Texan succeeded.
In 2008, 25-year-old Christopher Lee McCuin of Tyler, Texas called 911. He told the dispatcher that he had killed his girlfriend and was in the process of cooking and eating her. The police arrived to find his girlfriend’s ear boiling on the stove and a hunk of her flesh on a plate, a fork sticking out of it.
After his arrest, McCuin stated that God had told him to do it.
What could drive someone to consume human flesh? Perhaps that is why we find this taboo so terrifying, that we can’t imagine engaging in it but there are some out there, wandering through nowhere, who feel compelled to feast on their fellow man.
Tune into this episode for more information about East Texas cannibals.