Joe Metheny: Serial killer made wild claims about turning victims into hamburgers

Joe Metheny pictured with a police officer
Joe Metheny shows officers where he buried the bodies. Pic credit: @WBALTV11/YouTubbe

Joe Metheny was a serial killer from Baltimore, Maryland, who, throughout the 1990s, committed brutal murders and sexual attacks and was only stopped thanks to a friend who decided to go to the cops.

Metheny claimed to have murdered up to ten people; however, there was only sufficient evidence to charge him with the murders of Cathy Ann Magaziner in 1994 and Kimberly Lynn Spicer in 1996. It’s thought his victims likely suffered sexual abuse before they were strangled.

The authorities said that Metheny preyed on vulnerable women who had slipped through the social cracks and had problems with drugs and alcohol. The twisted killer was also convicted of the kidnapping and attempted rape of Rita Kemper.

Metheny became particularly notorious in the public eye after making a prison confession where he claimed to have sliced up his victims and turned them into hamburgers. He said he sold the burgers to unwitting members of the public from a stand on a Baltimore sidewalk.

The killer’s gruesome confession earned him various nicknames, such as Sloppy Joe Metheny, the BBQ Burger Butcher, and the Cannibal.

Joe “Tiny” Metheny was a distinctive-looking figure nicknamed Tiny ironically due to his large stature and overweight problem. He suffered from drug addiction and regularly took cocaine and heroin.

Despite his addiction, his fellow peers viewed him as intelligent, polite, and mild-mannered. He held down a full-time job as a forklift driver at a pallet company.

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Mild-mannered Joe Metheny had a super dark side as a serial killer

Metheny lived in a trailer at the site of the pallet company on James Street in the southwest of Baltimore. And it was here that he seems to have committed his murders.

The killer hung out with members of Baltimore’s homeless community, and in 1995, he was accused of killing Randall Brewer and Randy Piker in a tent city over a feud among homeless men. At the time, he was released due to a lack of evidence, but he later confessed to these murders.

In mid-November 1996, Metheny murdered 23-year-old Kimberly Spicer. The police suspect he took her back to his trailer, where he stabbed and strangled her to death. He left her body lying under a nearby trailer.

It was this murder that actually led to his downfall because a month later, he showed the body to a friend, hoping that they would help him bury the remains. However, the friend notified the police, who arrested Metheny.

On December 15, an FBI task force was mobilized to help the Baltimore City PD take Metheny into custody. Spicer’s body was discovered a short time later on the grounds of the pallet company under a trailer.

Joe Metheny: Killer confessed to murders of Cathy Magaziner and Kimberly Spicer

While in custody, the killer confessed to killing 39-year-old Cathy Magaziner in July 1994, describing in detail how he murdered her. Metheny had persuaded Magaziner back to his trailer, where the pair had sexual relations.

Metheny claimed that after about an hour, he strangled his victim to death. He buried her body in a shallow 2 feet grave and her clothes and purse in another spot at the pallet company.

About six months later, the twisted killer dug up Magaziner’s body and removed the skull, which he then placed in a trash box.

The cops also learned of a terrifying experience that occurred to 37-year-old Rita Kemper, who barely managed to escape from Metheny just three weeks after he had killed Spicer.

Kemper recanted how on December 8, she had gone to Metheny’s trailer to take drugs. The pair had built up a friendship over the previous few months, but their relationship had never been sexual. However, on that night in the trailer, Metheny aggressively demanded that Kemper have sex with him.

Metheny struck Kemper twice and demanded she took off her clothes. She tried to escape, but he caught up to her, choked her, and dragged her back to the trailer.

Rita Kemper had a lucky escape from serial killer Joe Metheny

Kemper said that she could “see the evil in him.”Chillingly, he told her, “I’m going to kill you and bury you in the woods with the other girls.”

She later told cops, “He told me I could scream as loud as I wanted to. I knew that he wasn’t going to let me out of there alive. I wasn’t letting this man take my life from me without a fight.”

Thankfully, Kemper was able to escape through a window, and she fled for her life.

The police subsequently added the attempted murder and kidnapping of Kemper to Metheny’s growing list of charges. He was also indicted for killing 29-year-old Toni Lynn Ingrassia; however, these charges were later dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Killer Joe Metheny said he ‘enjoyed’ killing

At his trial, Metheny had a terrifying answer when asked why he killed Magaziner. He said he “enjoyed it” and “I got a very… got a rush out of it, got a high out of it. Call it what you want. I had no real excuse why other than I like to do it.”

Metheny claimed he had killed up to ten people and had thrown most of the bodies into the Patapsco River. In a confession written behind bars, he said his murderous rampage had started out as an act of revenge but turned into blood lust.

He blamed his ex-partner for turning him into a killer by running away with their six-year-old son in 1994. He said she hooked up with another man and became a crack addict. Metheny said he set out to kill both of them but instead took his anger out on a “crackwhore.”

In this confession, he also made the outrageous claim that he had made hamburgers from some of his victims. It should be noted that the police found no evidence for this.

On another occasion, Metheny blamed his murderous urges on the drugs, which he said changed him into a violent thug. He also claimed he’d been neglected as a child and served in Vietnam. His mother rejected both claims.

His mother, Jean Metheny, once told reporters, “He just kept drifting further and further away [from his family]. I think the worst thing that ever happened to him was drugs. It’s a sad, sad story.”

Joe Metheny asked to be executed but was denied

Ultimately, Metheny was found guilty of kidnapping and sexually assaulting Kemper and was sentenced to 50 years in prison. He was also found guilty of killing Spicer and Magaziner and was sentenced to death.

Maryland law has a peculiar quirk that states the death penalty can only be imposed in cases where certain aggravating factors exist, such as robbery, arson, or rape. The appeals court later ruled that the death penalty had been wrongly imposed as he hadn’t technically robbed his two murder victims. His sentence was commuted to life in prison.

Metheny had begged to be put to death. At one point, he told the jury, “The words ‘I’m sorry’ will never come out, for they would be a lie. I am more than willing to give up my life for what I have done, to have God judge me and send [me] to hell for eternity.”

However, his lawyer, Margaret Mead, later suggested that the killer hadn’t really wanted to die; she said, “Once the fanfare was over, he realized he really does want to live.”

Mead has also said that she believed Metheny when he said he killed others, “I have no reason not to believe him. I have always found him to be forthright and honest. I think he’s telling the truth.” She also described him as “remarkably kind and gentle” in their conversations.

Joe Metheny died in a prison cell in 2017. He was 62.

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