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True crime. Casually done.

Kuno Hofmann: The Vampire of Nuremberg

Throughout 1971, graveyards and mortuaries in the West German countryside were plagued with a string of horrific defilements. A mysterious menace was digging bodies out of the ground in the dead of night, often just a few days after they were laid to rest by their families.  

When the groundskeepers arrived in the morning, they would find the bodies abandoned and mutilated. Deep bite marks made it look like the aftermath of a vicious animal attack. But this was even worse: the corpses were often sexually violated, sometimes even decapitated. The maniac’s habit of drinking the blood from fresh cadavers soon landed them a nickname: the Vampire of Nuremberg.

Nobody caught sight of this necrophilic Dracula for over a year, despite their terrifying prolificness. They racked up 35 unsanctioned exhumations across that time (and that’s just the ones that we know about). 

Then, in May 1972, cemetery warden George Warmuth came in to work to find an unexpected visitor getting a little too familiar with one of the cadavers in the morgue. It was the Vampire, kissing the lips of a recently deceased young woman. The disheveled, greasy-haired man stopped when Warmuth walked in, and drew a pistol from his coat pocket. 

The single gunshot only lightly wounded Warmuth, giving the Vampire of Nuremberg time to escape…


Grave Circumstances

Kuno Hofmann
Kuno Hofmann

So who exactly was the quirky little ghoul who narrowly dodged being captured that day? He went by a different name in everyday life: Kuno Hofmann, a deaf-mute laborer from another part of Bavaria. 

By day he worked irregular factory jobs, and by night, rode around on his red moped, hopping the fences of graveyards to satisfy his sick desires. Had you stumbled across him during one of his earlier expeditions, you’d have been traumatized for life.

Kuno treated the obituaries section of the paper like the romantic personals, noting down the date and location of the funeral. He preferred to catch his victims while they were in the morgue (he managed to steal the keys to several of them). However, if he couldn’t find an opportunity for some alone time before the burial, he’d bring along a shovel and do it the hard way.

Once he had the victims where he wanted them, he proceeded to mutilate them with razors and a knife. He would also bite into their skin, eating pieces of flesh, drinking whatever blood remained, and usually sexually abusing the female victims. Often he finished by sawing off the head, or cutting out the heart.

Like I said, pretty traumatic stuff…


Making a M̶u̶r̶d̶e̶r̶e̶r̶ Creepy Sex Vampire

You surely have to be utterly deranged to set off on a cannibalistic spree of grave robbing, so what motivated this German factory worker to become the region’s most feared maniac? For Kuno, it all started in childhood. He was born in 1931, the son of an unbelievably abusive ex-con, who beat him senseless from a young age.

One report claims that, at just 1 year old, Kuno was hung from a window frame, and used as a punching bag. Not long after, he was tied in a sack and thrown away outside. It was actually his father’s incredible cruelty that rendered Kuno deaf and mute — he lost his hearing at a young age after one of the beatings. 

Understandably, the constant terror of those early days made him quite a nervous child. He struggled in school both socially and academically, and left with zero qualifications. Nothing ever seemed to go right for the poor guy; his developmental problems and disabilities meant he never had any hope in romance, and every career he tried fell apart miserably.

Frustrated with his lot in life, Kuno entered into a life of petty crime, which went just about as well as everything else. In his twenties, he was arrested for theft, and was in and incarceration for much of his adult life. 

All in all he spent the next nine years behind bars. Much of this was spent bouncing around various mental institutions, and racking up an impressive twelve escapes over the years. Finally, something he was good at.

But escape wasn’t the only thing on his mind throughout those long lonely years inside. Kuno was determined to turn his life around once and for all after his final release. He dedicated himself to extensive reading, cooking up a plan to find love, get healthy, make friends and influence people on the outside. 

The only problem was that his taste in self-help literature was… niche, to say the least.


The Necrophile’s Handbook

Somehow he was able to get his hands on occult spell books (which I don’t think have any place in a prison library, quite frankly). I say “spellbook”, when really they advertised themselves as “occult science”. I must have missed this day in high school chemistry, because their version of ‘science’ included black magic rituals that promised to make the performer rich — handsome — popular — whatever their heart desired.

A bit like that book The Secret (just marginally less bullshit). So far it all sounds harmless enough — how many people out there still believe in astrology when it comes to romance? But the content of these rituals is where things get very dark, very quick. 

The books claimed that all you have to do is get ahold of some dead bodies, carve them up, drink their blood, have sex with them, and then everyone will want to be with you. Sounds reasonable: who can resist the charisma of an accomplished necrophile? 

Kuno threw himself into these books wholeheartedly, and was determined to strike up a deal with the devil after his release. In 1971, the 40-year-old moved in with his sister in Nuremberg, and started digging up graves in the spring. However, the effects were underwhelming. 

Kuno was still unattractive, still unpopular, still unable to hear — his Satanic crime spree was failing to make all his wishes come true. Rather than accept that the rituals were a load of nonsense, he deduced that the victims must not have been fresh enough for the spells to work.

After all, the initial victims were long-deceased, with little flesh or blood left to consume. That’s when our Vampire started scanning through the obituaries for newly-deceased targets, and procured a set of keys to a morgue. For the rest of 1971 and early 1972, he roamed the Nuremberg countryside, defiling dozens of corpses.

This would eventually lead to his run-in with the cemetery warden from before. Around one year after Kuno Hofmann started his ghoulish grave robbing rituals, the police were finally on his trail…


Fresh Victims

Before they could catch him though, Kuno wanted to up the ante, and get the freshest bodies possible — maybe that would finally give his spells the potency they needed. To do that, he went on the hunt for living victims.

Fiancés Markus Adler (24) and Ruth Lissy (18) were parked by the side of a country road when the Nuremberg Vampire came across them on his moped, not long after the incident at the morgue. He stopped a little further down the road, and walked silently to the back of the car.

The couple were napping inside, and awoke as he crept up to the driver’s side window. He shot them dead, and drank their blood from the fresh gunshot wounds. He lingered at the scene long enough to sexually violate and cannibalise the young woman. 

After that, a gamekeeper from a nearby estate saw him walking away from the car suspiciously. The man went to investigate, found the couple dead, and called the police. With two confirmed sightings, it looked like game over for the German tomb raider…


Arrest and Aftermath

By this point, Nuremberg police had already interviewed the cemetery warden Warmuth, who got a good look at the amorous vampire before being shot at. The call from the gamekeeper matched his description, adding that the killer rode a red moped, and wore a distinctive leather hat and sunglasses.

This helped them make a positive ID on Kuno Hofmann, who was arrested on May 10th at the factory where he worked, in the middle of tendering his resignation. It’s thought he was planning to go on the run. 

After his capture, the cops had to bring in a sign language interpreter to get his story. He never even tried to deny what he did. In fact, he plied the officers for sympathy, telling them all he wanted was love; his chronic loneliness drove him to desperate measures. I mean, I’ve had some dry spells in my time mate, but not once have I considered gnawing on a dead person so Satan can find me a girlfriend.

Apparently he even believed that mixing a dead woman’s blood with his own could bring her back from the dead to be with him. Christ Kuno, and then what? You’re going to introduce her to your family? “Hey guys, this is my girlfriend Katy. Yes, she’s a literal reanimated corpse, but don’t say anything, she’s quite sensitive about it.” But sadly, poor Kuno never did get the corpse bride of his dreams.

Understandably, the question of insanity came up during the aspiring necromancer’s trial. His defence team wanted the Vampire of Nuremberg confined to an insane asylum for life. But the prosecution was having none of it; Kuno was canny enough to travel around various towns to commit his crimes, and often planned them methodically. Deranged? God yes. Insane? No.

Instead of an asylum, Kuno was sentenced to life behind bars. His last request to the jailers before being transferred to federal prison, was for one last sip of virgin’s blood…



That’s a fitting end to such a gory tour of cannibalistic depravity, I think. It’s hard to find any redeeming angle on a cannibalistic necrophile, but the traumatic childhood he had to endure at least gives us an understanding of how he came to be that way. Undiagnosed learning disorders and severe maladjustment resulted in a twisted psychology. 

According to his delusional logic, eating and molesting the dead was his ticket to a normal life (which I find is rarely the case). By the way, if anyone out there is considering using dark magic to boost your lackluster love life, there are plenty of things you can try first. Mix up your fashion style, start a new hobby, visit a single’s bar. 

And then, if none of that works, I guess you can start dabbling in a bit of light Satanism. Just keep it family-friendly, please.


Dismembered Appendices

1.There’s mention of Hoffman killing a third victim in a lot of the English-language versions of the story online, however in the few original sources out there, only the young couple are mentioned. I’ll go out on a limb and say the shooting of the cemetery warden got a little lost in translation (he made a full recovery).

2. The story of the Vampire of Nuremberg made its way into Swiss cinema, in 1977’s low-budget gore flick  Bloodlust — or if you prefer the catchier original title, Mosquito the Molester (Mosquito der Schänder). It features a deaf-mute accountant who drinks the blood of the dead through a glass straw. 

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