Kurt Vonnegut's Strange Connection to the Cape Cod Cannibal

Author Kurt Vonnegut lived on Cape Cod in the 1960s, and so was following the news of the Cape Cod Cannibal with interest, and even writing about the crimes. Four young women had gone missing in 1968 and '69, and while searching for two of them, police found a third. Ultimately four mutilated bodies of young women were uncovered the same area. Police arrested Tony Costa, which drew Vonnegut further into the sensational crime. His 19-year-old daughter Edith knew Costa. Costa had even invited her to come see his marijuana patch, a line he used with many young women.   

Luckily, Edith never took Costa up on his offer, but it wasn’t because she thought he could be dangerous—Edith believed Costa was strange but harmless. Most of the area residents did, too. Despite his run-ins with the law and heavy drug use, Costa was well-liked by many in the community, especially children. He was a fun and friendly babysitter to the local kids whose parents were either too busy or too apathetic to care for their kids during the hot and hectic days of summer.

Which is why so many area residents were shocked to find out Costa was a cold-blooded killer, including Edith. “‘If Tony is a murderer, then anybody could be a murderer,’” Vonnegut reports Edith told him during a phone conversation.

Read up on Tony Costa, Kurt Vonnegut, and the Cape Cod Cannibal crimes at Mental Floss.

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