Issei Sagawa handwritten postcard
Issei Sagawa handwritten postcard
Issei Sagawa also known as Pang, is a Japanese man who, while living in Paris in 1981, killed and cannibalized a Dutch woman named Renée Hartevelt. After his release from two years of pre-trial detention upon being found legally insane, he became a minor celebrity in Japan and made a living through public interest.
On June 11, 1981, Sagawa, then 32, invited his Sorbonne classmate Renée Hartevelt to dinner at his apartment under the pretext of translating poetry for a school assignment. He planned to kill and eat her, having selected her for her health and beauty - characteristics he felt he lacked. Sagawa considered himself weak, ugly, and small (he is 1.448 m (4 ft 9 in) tall) and claims he wanted to absorb her energy. She was 25 years old and 1.78 m (5 ft 10 in). After she arrived, she began reading poetry at a desk with her back to him. He shot her in the neck with a rifle. Sagawa said he fainted after the shock of shooting her, but awoke with the realization that he had to carry out his plan. He raped her corpse but was unable to bite into her skin, so he left the apartment and purchased a butcher knife. For two days, Sagawa ate various parts of her body, saving other parts in his refrigerator. He took photographs at each stage. He then attempted to dump her body in a lake in the Bois de Boulogne, but was seen in the act and arrested by French police. When he was caught, he was carrying two suitcases. Those suitcases contained the dismembered body parts of Renée Hartevelt.
Sagawa's wealthy father provided a lawyer for his defense, and after being held for two years awaiting trial Sagawa was found legally insane and unfit to stand trial by the French judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, who ordered him held indefinitely in a mental institution. After a visit by the author Inuhiko Yomota, Sagawa's account of his kill was published in Japan under the title In the Fog. Sagawa's subsequent publicity and macabre celebrity likely contributed to the French authorities' decision to deport him to Japan, where he was immediately committed to Matsuzawa hospital. Examining psychologists there all declared him sane and found sexual perversion was his sole motivation for murder. Because charges in France had been dropped, the French court documents were sealed and were not released to Japanese authorities; consequently Sagawa could not legally be detained in Japan. He checked himself out of the hospital on August 12, 1986, and remained free. Sagawa's continued freedom has been widely criticized.
Between 1986 and 1997 he was frequently invited to be a guest speaker and commentator. In 1992, he appeared in Hisayasu Sato's exploitation film Uwakizuma: Chijokuzeme (Unfaithful Wife: Shameful Torture) as a sado-sexual voyeur. Sagawa has written books about the murder he committed, as well as Shonen A, a book on the 1997 Kobe child murders. He has also written restaurant reviews for the Japanese magazine Spa. Sagawa can no longer find publishers for his writing and he has struggled to find employment. He was nearly accepted by a French-language school because the manager was impressed by his courage in using his real name, but employees protested and he was rejected.
In 2005 Sagawa's parents died. He was prevented from attending their funeral, but repaid their creditors and moved into public housing. He received welfare benefits for a time. In an interview with Vice magazine in 2011, he said that being forced to make a living while being known as a murderer and cannibal was a terrible punishment. In 2013 he was hospitalized from a cerebral infarction which permanently damaged his nervous system. Since being released he has been under the full-time care of his brother.
The postcard is handwritten and is signed, Issei.