Hannibal Lecter


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Hannibal Lecter VIII is a Lithuanian-American serial killer, notorious for consuming his victims, earning him the nickname “Hannibal the Cannibal”.

Orphaned at a young age, Lecter moved to the United States of America, becoming a successful psychiatrist. He was eventually caught by Will Graham, who later consulted him for advice on capturing the “Tooth Fairy”. He escaped incarceration whilst assisting Clarice Starling in capturing “Buffalo Bill”.


Lecter was born in Lithuania in 1933 to a wealthy aristocratic family; his father, simply known as Count Lecter, was a descendant of the warlord “Hannibal the Grim” (1365-1428) who defeated the Teutonic Order at the Battle of Grunwald, in 1410, while his mother, Madame Simonetta Sforza-Lecter, descended from both the Visconti and Sforza families who separately ruled Milan for a total of 250 years. He is the eighth in his blood-line to bear his ancestor’s forename.

Lecter may have also been descended from Giuliano Bevisangue (“Bevisangue” means “Blood-Drinker”), a feared and ruthless figure in 12th-century Tuscany, and from the Machiavelli bloodline. Lecter himself would pursue this subject, to determine from the records of the Capponi Library if there was any true connection to Bevisangue, but he was unable to answer the question. Lecter was a distant cousin of the artist Balthus.

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Childhood and Bereavement

When Lecter was six years old, he was introduced to his sister, Mischa, who was born in 1939. The two formed a strong, affectionate bond. When he was eight, his family left their estate to live in a lodge in the forest in order to escape Hitler’s Blitzkrieg. Three years later, his parents, tutor, and family retainers were killed by a German bomber attempting to disable a Soviet tank (decades later while flying between Europe and the United States, Hannibal dreamed of being six at the time of these events).

The lodge was invaded by a group of former Lithuanian collaborators turned looters. Lecter and Mischa were held captive by said looters. Mischa was cannibalized, but Lecter escaped, only to be severely traumatized by his sister’s death and was rendered temporarily mute. Mischa’s death would haunt Lecter for the rest of his life; Hannibal explains that it destroyed his faith in God, and thereafter he believed that there was no real justice in the world.

After the looters fled, he wandered the forests until he was found by a tank crew. The soldiers cut the shackle from his neck, which had stripped away pieces of his skin, leaving a scar that would never truly heal. He was also carrying, at this time, his father’s binoculars: the binoculars stayed with him for many years and featured again later. The trauma left the young Lecter mute for a short while.

The Soviets returned Lecter to his family’s castle, which had been converted into an orphanage. The war had many lasting effects on the children, and many of them became bullies. While living there, he frequently attacked and severely wounded many of his fellow orphans, but only those who bullied, hurt or insulted others. Lecter called on his memories of the leader of the group of looters, Vladis Grutas, to inspire the anger necessary to hurt the bullies. He was well-behaved around the younger orphans, often letting them tease him a little, letting them believe him to be a crazed deaf-mute, and giving them his treats that he rarely received.

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Adoption and Revenge

When Lecter was 13 years old, his uncle (the new Count Robert Lecter) brought him to his home in France. He formed a close relationship with his aunt, the Lady Murasaki, with whom he instantly fell in love. He was educated at home on his uncle’s estate on the banks of the Essonne; his uncle encouraged him to take up painting while his aunt taught him aspects of Japanese culture. Still mute and disturbed by his sister’s death, he saw the psychiatrist, Doctor Rufin. At age 13, he attacked a local butcher, Paul Momund, in retaliation for an obscene insult to his aunt. Robert Lecter died from a heart attack during a further confrontation with Momund. An enraged Lecter then committed his first murder, slashing Momund with a Tanto that had belonged to his aunt’s samurai ancestor, Date Masamune. He then beheaded Momund and, after receiving a tip from his aunt’s chef whilst they prepared a fish, sliced off his victim’s cheeks and ate them, his first willful act of cannibalism. He then presented the decapitated head to Masamune. The murder brought Lecter to the attention of Inspector Pascal Popil, who intuitively grasped that he was guilty and pressed him to confess. Lecter proved impenetrable, however, even passing a lie detector test; thanks to Lady Murasaki’s intervention, he escaped any blame. Following her husband’s death, Lady Murasaki moved to a flat in Paris, where Lecter attended a boarding school. Popil, who was fascinated by both Lecter and Lady Murasaki, remained in close contact with them.

Lecter excelled at the Lycée and graduated early, becoming the youngest person admitted to a medical school in France, where he was mentored by a Doctor Dumas. He had been alerted to the survival of the Totenkopfs who had held him prisoner, when he found a painting looted from his father’s collection for sale in a Paris gallery.

In 1951, he returned to Lithuania and the scene of his sister’s murder. He excavated the ruins of the lodge where his family died and, upon finding Mischa’s remains, gave her a proper burial. He also unearthed the dog-tags of the group of deserters who had killed her. One member of the group, Enrikas Dortlich, now an officer in the Soviet Border Guards, arrived at the scene intent on killing Lecter. Lecter, however, was not caught off guard and instead murdered Dortlich. Once again, Lecter consumed his victim’s cheeks.

Dortlich’s murder put the group on alert and, due to the similarity of Lecter’s first murder, placed him under renewed suspicion from Popil. Grutas dispatched a second member of the group, Zigmas Milko, to eliminate the problem by either bribing Lecter or killing him. Lecter killed Milko instead, drowning him in formaldehyde. Both Popil and Lady Murasaki try to dissuade him from hunting the gang. During a confrontation with Lady Murasaki, Lecter almost had sex with her, but relented at the last minute, claiming he had made a promise to Mischa. He attacked Grutas in his home but Grutas was rescued by his bodyguards. Grutas kidnapped Lady Murasaki and used her as a lure to draw Lecter to his death. Lecter, donning the Tanto, tracked Grutas to his houseboat. In a final confrontation, Grutas claimed that Lecter too had consumed his sister in broth fed to him by the soldiers, and it was to keep this fact secret that he was killing them. Enraged, Lecter eviscerated him by repeatedly carving his sister’s initial into his body. Lady Murasaki was disturbed by his behavior and fled from him even after he told her that he loved her.

Popil arrested Lecter for the murders, but there was little incentive for a trial; no evidence could be conclusively tied to him, and all the victims had been slavers and war criminals. His victims’ association with the Nazis led Lecter to become something of a cause celebre in France, with communists and students marching for his release. Lady Murasaki visited him one last time while he was being held by the police, and saw that he had become completely emotionless. After receiving references from Doctor Dumas and from the head of the Police Forensic Laboratory, for whom he has worked as a volunteer, Lecter was released. He left France, killing the final member of the group, Bronys Grentz, while on a vacation in Montreal, before returning to his internship in Baltimore.

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Career as a psychiatrist

Lecter’s drawings led to an internship at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, where he graduated with a degree in medicine and eventually settled. Lecter established a psychiatric practice in Baltimore in the 1970s. He became a leading figure in Baltimore society and indulged his extravagant tastes, which he financed by influencing some of his patients to bequeath him large sums of money in their wills. He became world-renowned as a brilliant clinical psychiatrist, but he had nothing but disdain for psychology; he would later say he didn’t consider it a science, criticizing it as “puerile”, and comment that most psychology departments were filled with “ham radio enthusiasts and other personality-deficient buffs”. He also mocked the way serial killers were categorized into “organised and disorganized” but wasn’t interested to offer an alternative.

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Hannibal the Cannibal

During the mid 1970’s in America, Lecter embarked on a second killing spree. He killed at least nine people and attempted to kill three others, the survivors included Will Graham, an FBI profiler, and Mason Verger. Verger was the fourth person Lecter attacked. Verger went through psychiatric counselling with Lecter as part of a court-order after being convicted of child molestation, and for viciously raping his own sister, Margot, who also went to Lecter for counselling. Verger invited Lecter to his home in Owings Mills one night after a session. Lecter drugged Verger with hallucinogenic drugs and suggested he try cutting off his own face with a mirror shard. Verger complied and, again at Lecter’s suggestion, fed most of his face to his dogs and ate his own nose. Lecter then broke Verger’s neck with a rope used for auto-erotic asphyxiation and left him to die. Later, the dogs were taken to an animal shelter to have their stomachs pumped which led to the retrieval of Verger’s nose, lips and parts of his forehead; however, the skin graft was unsuccessful. Verger survived, but was left hideously disfigured and forever confined to a life support machine.

Benjamin Raspail was Lecter’s ninth and final known murder victim in the Chesapeake series before his incarceration. Raspail was a not-so-talented flautist with the Baltimore Philharmonic Orchestra, and it is believed that Lecter killed him because his musicianship, or lack thereof, spoiled the orchestra’s concerts; he was also a patient of Lecter’s. Lecter would claim to Clarice Starling that the reason for Raspail’s death was that Lecter “got sick and tired of his whining” during their appointments. Raspail’s body would be discovered sitting in a church pew with his thymus and pancreas missing, and his heart pierced. It is believed Lecter served these organs at a dinner party he held for the orchestra’s board of directors. The president of the board was later to have developed an alcohol problem and anorexia. Raspail was the former lover of Jame Gumb, who would later be involved in Lecter’s life as the serial killer dubbed “Buffalo Bill”.

Not much is known about his other victims in this series or how they were killed. They can be presumed to have been mutilated and in most cases, eaten. In at least one case, he prepared his victim as an eloquent meal and shared his remains with the victim’s fellow musicians. Victims included a person who initially survived, and was taken to a private mental hospital in Denver, Colorado. Others included a bow hunter, a census taker whose liver he ate with “fava beans and a big Amarone”, and a Princeton student whom he buried. Lecter was given sodium amytal by the FBI in the hopes of learning where he buried the student; but Lecter, instead of giving them the location of the buried student, gave them a recipe for potato chip dip, the implication being that the student was in the dip. He had trained himself previously by administering self-hypnosis in case he was ever administered hypnotic drugs. Lecter committed his last three known murders within a nine day span. Since one officer retired after seeing Lecter’s basement, it can be presumed that parts of his victims were stored there.

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Lecter, while in custody, was said to be “far too sophisticated” for most forms of psychological evaluation, especially as he enjoyed staying abreast of all of the latest developments in his field. Since he knew how the tests worked, he could easily come up with the typical answers that would brand him as not being psychologically disturbed, and he also mocked the psychiatrists’ attempts to profile him by folding their tests into origami. Lecter was considered a prize asset, due to the fact he was a pure psychopath.

Lecter was a model patient until the afternoon of July 8, 1976. After complaining of chest pains, he was taken to the infirmary. After his restraints were removed for his electrocardiogram (ECG) he attacked a nurse, tearing out an eye, dislocating her jaw, and biting out her tongue and eating it. Chilton would later note that Lecter’s pulse never went above 85 beats per minute “even when he swallowed [her tongue].” During the struggle with the orderlies, his shoulder was dislocated. Following this incident, especially when Barney arrived a year after, Lecter was treated extremely carefully by the hospital staff, often outfitted with heavy restraints, a straitjacket and muzzle, and transported only when strapped to a hand-truck. After cleaning his cell, the orderlies would secure Lecter to his bed using heavy cloths, so Lecter could exchange his restraints for his meals. His cell consisted of a double barrier, the first being standard bars and the second a nylon net stretched across, at a distance that no one could reach. Despite these high security measures, Lecter managed to create a handcuff key from two pens left in his cell by visitors, both times on Barney’s day off. Despite being commuted soon after his arrest, Lecter did not go on trial until 1977. Lecter was eventually deemed sane enough to stand trail, and was found guilty of nine counts of murder. He was sentenced to life in the institution without parole.

Chilton and Lecter’s relationship was marked by mutual hatred; Chilton’s status as a psychologist, his mediocrity and inflated self-importance offended Lecter, who often humiliated his keeper; while Lecter’s constant mockery and elusiveness infuriated Chilton, who punished him by removing his books and toilet seat. At the end of Red Dragon, Lecter diagnosed this form of punishment as indicative of the damnation of society by half-measures: “Any rational society would kill me, or give me my books.” By contrast, Lecter reached a mutual respect with his primary caregiver and warden, Barney Matthews, and the two often shared thoughts over Barney’s correspondence courses. During the investigation of Buffalo Bill, the two would also discuss Clarice Starling.

During his stay in Baltimore State Hospital, Lecter would help with two FBI cases. Graham came out of retirement in 1980 to offer his insight on the “Tooth Fairy” case and upon arriving at a dead end, went to Lecter for help. Lecter gave Graham some valuable insights into the Tooth Fairy, but upon learning about the case, secretly sent a coded message to the killer, Francis Dolarhyde, to kill Graham and his family (which would later result in Graham’s permanent disfigurement and decline into alcoholism).

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Three years later, Jack Crawford sent FBI trainee Clarice Starling to Lecter to administer a psychological questionnaire. Starling, initially assuming the assignment was related to her studies, ended up getting him to help the FBI in the Buffalo Bill case, a serial killer who was skinning young wome. In both of these cases, Lecter used wordplay and subtle clues to help Graham and Starling arrive at the conclusions themselves, in the latter case he played a perverse game of “quid pro quo” with Starling, sharing what he knew of Buffalo Bill in exchange for details of Starling’s childhood.

Buffalo Bill’s last kidnappee was Catherine Martin, daughter of Senator Ruth Martin. Lecter told Chilton he would reveal Buffalo Bill’s real name to Martin and was promptly flown to Memphis, Tennessee, and held at the Shelby County Courthouse. During his stay in Memphis, Lecter lied to Martin, giving her the fake name “William Rubin,” or “Billy Rubin”. (Bilirubin is a pigment found in feces. It is the same color as Chilton’s hair, Lecter’s hint that the name was fake. The film adaptation changed the name to “Louis Friend,” an anagram for “iron sulfide” – fool’s gold.) Starling then visited Lecter at his makeshift cell, and he gave her some final clues before making a bloody escape, killing two police officers during the ordeal. He escaped by making a “mask” from the face of one of the officers, donning the officer’s uniform and pretending to be his own still-living victim so that he would be hurried away by ambulance while the authorities hunted for him. The murdered officer, Pembry, was dressed up to look like Lecter and dropped onto the elevator. He also murdered two paramedics and a tourist, stealing the latter’s clothes and identity. After Buffalo Bill (revealed to be Jame Gumb) was killled by Starling, Lecter sent letters stating he wanted revenge on Chilton for the mistreatment he suffered at the hospital. Chilton soon disappeared, probably killed by Lecter.

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