Dorangel Vargas: The Terrifying Cannibal of Venezuela
When a country has no real history of serial killers, there is a certain dread and fascination when one appears seemingly out of nowhere. Though Venezuela has certainly had its share of strife, it was remarkably short on cannibals, and that was where Dorancel Vargas comes in. With somewhere around 10 kills to his name and some serious views on what people should be eaten, Vargas stands out in the world of Venezuelan crime.
Born in 1957, Vargas had a troubled childhood. His family took part in the activities of the Venezuelan Liberation Forces, which patrolled the jungle in their area. They were located on the border of the Venezuelan-Columbia border, and by all accounts they were not people to be trifled with. When a guerrilla group claims that someone is possessed by evil spirits, it definitely means that person is not to be trusted.
At some point, Vargas drifted to the city of San Cristobel located in Táchira State, where he lived under the Libertador bridge with many other transients. He lived a homeless life, one of many transients who drifted through, stayed for a while, and then moved on. He didn’t move on however, and over the years, he was picked up by local police several times for charges of vagrancy and petty theft. It is a tragedy that none of these brushes with the law led to further investigation, because if they had, many lives might have been saved.
In 1995, Vargas was convicted of killing and eating Baltazar Cruz Moreno, another transient. Moreno’s brother had seen him talking with Vargas, and when the police came to investigate, they found the remnants of a grisly crime and a completely unrepentant man.
In questioning, Vargas calmly described his hunting method. Like so many serial killers, he preyed on those least able to defend themselves. Most of his targets were homeless mine like him, men who had fallen through society’s cracks and who would not be missed. Vargas chillingly talked how he would come up behind unsuspecting men and kill them with a bamboo spear. He told the police about how he would eat the flesh of the people he killed.
According to Vargas:
“Human meat is nice, but I eat all kinds of meat, dog, cats , lizards. I buried the heads and feet and throw 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.”
Somehow, Vargas became a figure of interest in the Venezuelan media. Reporters came to see him, and he gave them several long interviews regarding his process and how he came to kill the people who were his victims. For example, he preyed exclusively on men. His rationale was that women were purer, and that it was only men who deserved death.
Vargas was also picky regarding the people that he chose to devour. He thought that eating fat men would raise his cholesterol, and that it would be unhealthy. Whether anyone told him that eating humans at all put him at risk for some fairly exotic parasites is at this point unclear.
The press dubbed him the Hannibal Lecter of the Andes, though it is hard to see a connection between a suave and psychotic mastermind and a man who was eventually declared simply unfit to stand trial due to mental dysfunction. He was also called ‘el comogente,’ which literally means, the People Eater.
Somehow, Vargas left the care of the system not long after he was caught. Whether it was a bureaucratic mishap that freed him or Vargas took it upon himself to escape is unclear, but in 1999, Vargas was up to his old tricks again.
This time, Vargas was found living on a ranch, and there were people nearby turning up dead. Some where mutilated to the point where it was thought that they were the victim of Satanic murder cults. When Vargas’s home was searched, he was discovered to own several vessels containing human flesh and organs.
It is one thing to think that Vargas was storing them for some kind of ritual purpose or even as trophies, but it is somehow more chilling to realize that he was simply storing them to eat!
This time, Vargas was taken into custody, where he now remains. He stays in solitary confinement, not for his protection but for that of the other prisoners, who fear him.
Vargas is quoted to have said:
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.