Monday, September 21, 2009

Alferd Packer

Alferd Packer was an American prospector who was accused of cannibalism. First tried for murder, Packer was eventually sentenced to 40 years in prison after being convicted of manslaughter.

In November, 1873, Packer was with a party of 21 who left Provo, Utah, bound for the Colorado gold country around Breckenridge. On January 21, 1874 he met with Chief Ouray, known as the White Man's Friend, near Montrose, Colorado. Chief Ouray recommended they postpone their expedition until spring, as they were likely to encounter dangerous winter weather in the mountains.

Ignoring Ouray's advice, Packer and five others left for Gunnison, Colorado on February 9. The party got hopelessly lost, ran out of provisions, and became snowbound in the Rocky Mountains. Packer allegedly went scouting and came back to discover Bell roasting human flesh. According to Packer, Bell rushed him with a hatchet. Packer shot and killed him. Packer insisted that Bell had gone mad and murdered the others.

Packer signed a confession on August 5, 1874. He was jailed in Saguache, but escaped soon after, vanishing for several years.

On March 11, 1883, Packer was discovered in Cheyenne, Wyoming living under the alias of "John Schwartze." On March 16, he signed another confession. On April 6, a trial began in Lake City, Colorado. On April 13, he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to death. Packer managed to temporarily avoid punishment again. In October 1885, the sentence was reversed by the Colorado Supreme Court. However, on June 8, 1886, Packer was sentenced to 40 years at another trial in Gunnison. At the time, this was the longest custodial sentence in U.S. history.

On June 19, 1899, Packer's sentence was upheld by the Colorado Supreme Court. However, he was paroled on February 8, 1901 and went to work as a guard at the Denver Post. He died in Deer Creek, in Jefferson County, Colorado, reputedly of "Senility - trouble & worry" at the age of 65. Packer is widely rumored to have become a vegetarian before his death. He was buried in Littleton, Colorado. His grave is marked with a veteran's tombstone listing his original regiment.

In 1968, students at the University of Colorado at Boulder named their new cafeteria grill the Alferd G. Packer Memorial Grill with the slogan "Have a friend for lunch!"

No comments:

Post a Comment