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The Hannibals

Season 2 of Hannibal just happened. It’s left everyone with their jaws on the floor (from awe, not surgical removal) in one of the most daring turns in television history. The NBC favorite has pushed the limits of what it means to be a crime drama. It has beautifully separated itself from the pack by offering fantastic visuals, well developed characters and an amazing storyline.

The basis of the story, of course, comes from the quadrilogy of Thomas Harris books that has since become the iconic quadrilogy of films. The driving and most seductive side of the story has always been Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, a brilliant and elegant psychopath who eats people and has disgust for the rude.

Anthony Hopkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Brian Cox and Gaspard Ulliel have all lent their own personal take on the character throughout the Hannibal franchise, but where did Harris come up with Dr. Lecter?

Like several other characters from the world of horror including Leatherface and Norman Bates, Hannibal has some personality and appetite habits that are borrowed from the notorious Ed Gein.

Gein was made infamous from his time spent dabbling in making furniture out of bits and bones that he would collect from graveyards. Although he did have quite the knack for crafts, he was a rubbish home decorator, and the whole murder thing didn’t help him out either.

Gein had begun to fashion a skin suit out of a woman’s body, which Harris later borrowed to give his “Silence of the Lambs” character Jame Gumb a deeper dimension.

It wasn’t until Harris released the 25th anniversary edition of his novel “Silence of the Lambs” that he revealed his true inspiration for Hannibal was a person named “Dr. Salazar.”


The name Salazar turned out to be a pseudonym for Balli Trevino a young medical intern who had slit his lover’s throat, cut him into pieces, and placed him in small box to be disposed of as medical waste. Police at the time tried to connect Trevino to other murders and disappearances in the area from a killer the media had dubbed “The Werewolf of Nuevo Leon” but were unsuccessful due to lack of evidence.

When Harris was still a 23-year-old journalist he went to a prison in Monterrey, Mexico to interview Dykes Askew Simmons, a man accused of the murder of three people. While Harris was on-site, he learned of a doctor who had saved Simmons life when he was shot during an attempted prison break.

Harris managed to get a one-on-one with Trevino, a calm and polite man who didn’t speak a word of his crime during the entirety of the interview. However, Trevino did begin questioning Harris about the appearance of Simmons disfigured face and also started asking questions about Simmons murder victims.  It wasn’t until Harris was thanking the Warden for his cooperation that he learned that Trevino was a murderer.

In his 25th anniversary” Silence of the Lambs” edition Harris wrote “it was not Dr. Salazar. But because of Dr. Salazar, I could recognize his colleague and fellow practitioner Hannibal Lecter.”

That was the beginning of the Hannibal Lecter. The calm and nonchalant demeanor that Trevino exuded was enough to give life to the horror icon we all know and love today.


Although Trevino was sentenced to death he managed to have his sentence commuted and spent the rest of his life giving medical assistance to the elderly and the poor. Trevino passed away in 2009 from prostate cancer.

The horror fan in me has a ton of conspiracy theories surrounding Trevino. If he was indeed like the Hannibal Harris wrote about. Maybe, he was treating old people as a way to continue his murders while covering it up with the alibi of natural causes. Maybe, he falsified his death being that its hard to get a solid fact about rather he died in 2009 or 2010. Maybe, the real life Hannibal is still out there.

Or, maybe, (and most likely) I just have an overactive imagination and Trevino was just a nice guy who made a mistake early in life and spent the rest of his life trying to make up for it.