Alferd Packer: Man-Eater - Lake City, CO
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member IJAdventures
N 38° 00.010 W 107° 17.700
13S E 298492 N 4208318
Quick Description: The legend of how one man survived a winter by eating the flesh of his companions.
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 4/6/2013 6:04:21 AM
Waymark Code: WMGRWK
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Ddraig Ddu
Views: 3

Long Description:
When a self-styled mountain guide walked into the Los Pinos Agency (Ute reservation government) in Colorado Territory, April 1874, minus the party of prospectors he was last seen with in February, folks started to ask questions. (Getz, Weird Colorado)

This weird story comes from the remote Colorado mountain wilderness. Civil War veteran Alfred "Alferd" Packer was hired to guide a group of prospectors from Utah to the gold mines of Colorado. Although being advised to wait until spring to cross the treacherous mountain passes, Packer and five other men set out for the Los Piños Indian Agency near Gunnison. After getting lost and stranded in a severe snow storm, Packer alone arrived at the agency later that spring.

However, he arrived in very good condition for one who had allegedly spent several weeks in the harsh elements. Packer gave several conflicting testimonies claiming that one of the members, Shannon Bell, went mad and killed the others, roasting parts over a fire. Packer then stated that he shot Bell in self defense when he was attacked with a hatchet. A search party eventually found the remains of five men on a bluff above Lake City. Most appeared to have been brutally murdered in their sleep and pieces of flesh were carved out of a number of them.

Naturally the irate citizens tried Packer for murder and cannibalism and found him guilty in 1882 of the premeditated murder of Israel Swan. According to legend, the judge in Lake City ordered that he "be hanged by th' neck ontil dead, dead, dead, as a warnin' ag'in reducin' th' Dimmycratic populayshun of this county. Packer, you Republican cannibal, I would sintince ya ta hell but the statutes forbid it."

Packer successfully appealed the case and served 15 years of a 40-year sentence in Canon City (murder was not a crime in Colorado Territory in 1874). He was paroled in 1901 and spent the rest of his life near Littleton (west of Denver) where he is buried.

Many strange legends surround the tale of "Colorado's most notorious cannibal" including the spelling of his name. Born Alfred G. Packer in Pennsylvania, he allegedly adopted the spelling "Alferd" after a tattoo artist misspelled his name. It is this spelling that appears on his tombstone. The University of Colorado's Alferd Packer Restaurant & Grill [visit link] is named for him and the story has been told as a musical [visit link] starring Trey Parker (of South Park fame).

Type: Local Heroes and Villans

Referenced in (list books, websites and other media):
Getz, Charmaine O. "Weird Colorado: Your Travel Guide to Colorado's Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets". Ed. Mark Sceurman and Mark Moran. New York: Sterling, 2010. Pages 130-133

Website Reference: [Web Link]

Additional Coordinates: Not Listed

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