Hometown Tales Podcast

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lake City, CO - The Colorado Cannibal

“There were seven Democrats in Hinsdale County! But you, you voracious, main-eating son of a bitch, you ate five of them. Therefore I sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you’re dead, dead, dead!”-Judge Melville B. Gerry

In the winter of 1873, Alfred Packer was hired as a guide in Salt Lake City by 20 men for a prospecting trip into the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The group stopped over at the village of Chief Ouray and were warned not to try crossing the mountains until spring. Packer and five of the group decided to continue on into the mountains.

Spring came and Packer appeared at the Los Pinos Indian Agency. He was alone. He was also seemingly well fed. In fact, upon arriving he was more interested in finding whiskey than food.

A search party went looking for the remainer of his party. Bodies, some stripped of flesh, were found on the trail. Packer was questioned. He ate them.

He was sentenced to death but that was reduced to 40 years. By 1901, he had been released on good behavior. His was the first case of cannibalism tried in the U.S. court system.

Source:Ramsland, Katherine, “Alfred Packer: The Maneater of Colorado“, Court TV’s Crime Library,2004.

Photo: Littleton Historical Society