It's hard to believe that even to survive, we would ever have to eat another human being. Just that thought of it is so sickening and out of the question that most would rather starve than ever comment such an unthinkable act.

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But, we really don't know what we would do in a situation of life and death. There are stories of survival that have been made into movies where the only food was the dead bodies of fellow travelers and friends.

What about real cannibalism? Are there really animals and humans that have or have ever really been cannibals?

What is cannibalism?

Cannibalism is the act of consuming another individual of the same species as food. Cannibalism is a common ecological interaction in the animal kingdom and has been recorded in more than 1,500 species. Human cannibalism is well documented, both in ancient and in recent times.

OMG! That gives me chills. Cannibalism in recent times? Does cannibalism happen today?

...parts of West and Central Africa, Melanesia (especially Fiji), New Guinea, Australia, among the Maoris of New Zealand, in some of the islands of Polynesia, among tribes of Sumatra... - Britannica

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GULP.

Ok, ok, let's get back to the story.

Who was the Kentucky Cannibal?

Before Jeffery Dahmer, there was the Kentucky Cannibal.

The notorious serial killer known as the Kentucky Cannibal was Levi Boone Helm, born on January 28th, 1828, in Lincoln County, Kentucky. Helm was born in the Bluegrass State but moved to Missouri as a boy. That is where his horrifying and murderous path out west began. 

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Even though the Helm family was well thought of in Kentucky, it didn't take long for their teenage son, Levi Boone, to start wreaking havoc. Known for showing off his strength and gunfighting skills, he would often pick fights. Levi Boone also bucked authority constantly. During that time, his inner evil began to get stronger. and unable to hide.

At 20, Boone married and had a child. He was a very heavy drinker who physically abuse his wife. After a short time, his wife filed for divorce. It appears his father paid for the divorce to keep the abuse undercover. The cost of the cover-up was too high and Boone's father ended up pennyless.

It was at that time that Levi decided to head west to California. That is when, in the vast and isolated wilderness, did he begin to kill his prey.

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What most likely started out as a means to survive the harsh travel conditions with dwindling provisions, became a hunger for human flesh.

Once he tasted human flesh, he began befriending many men along the way that he would eventually kill and consume. Boone killed his victims over a span of fourteen years.

...traveling west to California, Helm murdered several men in various altercations. Forced to flee to avoid arrest and vigilante justice, he teamed up with six men to whom he confided that he had eaten all, or part, of his murder victims: Many's the poor devil I've killed, at one time or another... and the time has been that I've been obliged to feed on some of 'em.

- Wikipedia

Kentucky Cannibal - Lee Boone Helm/Public Domain
Kentucky Cannibal - Levi Boone Helm/Public Domain
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An author of an article about Levi Boone Helm described him like this,

Boone Helm was bad, and nothing in the world could ever have made him anything but bad. He was, by birth and breeding, low, coarse, cruel, animal-like, and utterly depraved, and for him, no name but ruffian can fitly apply.

- Emerson Hough, 1907. [legendsofamerica.com]

After years of escaping and evading the law with help from his brothers and fellow gang members, Levi Boone Helm and other members of his gang were sentenced to death by hanging and died on January 14th, 1864.

What were the Kentucky Cannibals' last words?

In his insane and chilling last words, when seeing a fellow member being hanged, Boone shouted,

Kick away old fellow. My turn next. I'll be in Hell with you in a minute.

As he, himself was about to be hanged, he said,

Every man for his principles! Hurrah for Jeff Davis! (President of the Confederate States) Let 'er rip!

Then the Kentucky Cannibal kicked the stool out from underneath him and hanged himself before the executioner could kill him. 

Read more details about the life and victims of The Kentucky Cannibal, Levi Boone Helm, HERE.

[Legends of America/Ranker/Wikipedia]

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