Carl Panzram is a name you may be familiar with in the present generation but he went down in history as one of those who committed all sort of crimes against humanity. Long gone (June 28, 1892 – September 5, 1930) to the world beyond, Carl Panzram remains a subject of awe in crime spree; serial killing, rape, arson, robbing and burgling.
The American notorious criminal has been imprisoned multiple times and claimed, in his autobiography, to have killed up to 21 people, committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and over 1,000 sodomy of male human beings. Panzram always managed to escape from prison each time but was executed in 1930 on the charge of the murder of a prison worker at the Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.
He has been dubbed all sorts of repulsive names; psychopath, the heart of stone, unrepentant vagabond, cold-blooded murderer etc. Yet none of these seem to elaborate why he choose to be damned, but the facts might give you an insight to what made Carl Panzram a nightmare to the society he lived in.
5 Facts You Need To Know about Carl Panzram Which Tell’s Who He Is
He was born on June 28, 1892, in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, United State to immigrant parents, Johann and Matilda Panzram who were from East Prussia. He was one of six children raised at his family’s farm and almost like one who was cursed from birth, Carl Panzram began exhibiting odd behaviors ranging at age 5, from lying to stealing. By the age 7(1899) and 11(1903), Panzram had already landed in Juvenile Court followed by County Jail for being drunk, disorderly and incorrigible. He reportedly stole some cake, apples, and a revolver from a neighbour’s home at 11, forcing his parent to send him off to a correctional facility which made him worse.
While at the Minnesota Correctional Centre, October 11, 1903, he was repeatedly tortured, beaten and raped by staff members in the facility dubbed The Painting House, because pupils sent there would often leave “painted” with bruises and blood, not to mention emotionally demented. But as vindictive as he was, with mounting hatred for the human race, Panzram torched the building without detection. Two years later, at age 14, he was released from the correctional facility as a supposedly reformed boy. Back home, his life was the very opposite of reform; he wallowed on alcoholism plus burglary and theft. Shortly after, he decided to elope from home, young and determined to rob, rape, burn, and destroy everything within his reach. But not without encountering a repeat of his ordeal at The Painting House while living a hobo life on the rails; Carl Panzram was gang-raped by a bunch of hobos.
To understand more about how much hatred Panzram has been plunged into growing up, in one of the statements he recorded in his autobiography, the heartless killer said there was no room left in him for such feelings as love, pity, kindness, honour or decency.
Under alcohol influence, Panzram enrolled in the U.S Army at age 15 in 1907, but it wasn’t long before he landed in prison for larceny, serving a 2-year sentence; 1908 – 1910 at the United States Disciplinary Barracks. It was there he later claimed that any atom of goodness left in him disappeared. His dishonourable discharged plunged him into crime sprees for which he was apprehended and imprisoned several times for stealing; bicycles, yachts, food.
However, he wrote that each country he violates can only apprehend him, try and convict him, send him to jail for a few years, but sooner or later will let him get back being himself; the ruthless and cold-blooded murderer, which was okay by him. For 20 years, Panzram was a regular prison inmate, serving under different names such as Jefferson Davis, Jack Allen and Jeff Rhoades. He also made it a habit to break out of jail each time, from 1911 to 1918.
Sooner than he escaped prison on November 13, 1913, Panzram was re-arrested as Jeff Rhoades in Montana for burglary and returned to Deer Lodge for an additional year. Released on March 3, 1915, and three months later he returned to prison for burglarizing a house in Oregon. After burgling his way out of prison in 1918, he caught a freight train heading east, in disguise, using the name, John O’Leary.
Murder, Sodomy, Arson and Robbery
Carl Panzram wrote in his 1929 autobiography, that his murder spree started way back in 1910 when he stole $35 from a man and then strangled him. He confessed to killing 21 people; those of whom he can recall. And considering he had poisoned municipal water with arsenic, the number is left to the imagination.
Starting from 1920, he broke into the home of War Secretary Taft, whom he held responsible for approving his sentence at the U.S Army barrack, and made away with his handgun, a large amount of jewellery and bonds. With this, he bought a yacht which he used to lure 10 of his victims; all sailors whom he got drunk, raped and shot dead with Taft’s pistol, then dumped their corpses near Execution Rocks Light in Long Island Sound. He was never charged for these murders, rather he fled after his yacht sank near Atlantic City, along with two potential victims who managed to escape.
Back in Connecticut Panzram served 6 months in jail in Bridgeport, for burglary and possession of a loaded handgun in 1921. He boarded a ship to Africa and landed in Luanda, Portuguese Angola where he continued his repulsive murder sprees; worked as foreman of an oil rig in Angola before burning the rig down for the heck of it; raped and murdered a young boy, 11 or 12 years old. In his note, he said the boy’s brains were coming out of his ears and he will never be any deader. More of his victims were six rowers he hired to take him on a crocodile expedition and ended up shooting and feed their bodies to the crocodiles.
Panzram recorded that on his return to the U.S around 1922, he didn’t waste time to rape and murder two small boys – he crushed the first with stone and strangled the second to death; and killed two men in New York and Baltimore.
After the serial killer returned to Northwest, where he escaped from jail in 1918, he was arrested twice for breaking into a train depot in 1923 and remained for five years. He was discharged in July 1928 and allegedly killed again the same year. Yet it is always burgling and stealing that sent him back to prison until he voluntarily confessed to killing three young boys in different cities; the same year he got out of a 5-year prison term.
End of Criminal Career and Confessions
His voluntary murder confessions and extensive criminal records brought him a 25-years life prison sentence. As unrepentant as he proves to be, Panzram warned, upon arriving at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary as Inmate #31614, that he will eliminate the first man that bothers him. Despite given a solitary job in the prison laundry room, he held true to his words and murdered the prison laundry foreman Robert Warnke with an iron bar on June 20, 1929. For this last crime, he was sentenced to death and refused any form of appeal by human rights activists to be spared, rather he wrote that the only thanks they will ever get from him for their efforts on his behalf is they all had only one neck and he had his hand on it.
The 6ft 0inch killer machine was ready to die. Yet his confessions revealed that every day he’d lived would have been chaotic and a bloodbath for the human race.
Carl Panzram wrote that he nurtured thoughts of mass killings, acts of mayhem like poisoning city waters supply or even provoke a war between the UK and the U.S by scuttling a British warship in New York Harbor.
He was executed by hanging on September 5, 1930, at age 39. He spat on the face of the executioner as guards attempted to place a black hood over his head. When given a chance at last words, all Panzram could alter was “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you’re screwing around!” Only his prison number 31614 is engraved on his grave at the Leavenworth Penitentiary Cemetery.
While awaiting death roll, Carl Panzram wrote an autobiography with the encouragement of a prison staff, Henry Lesser who befriended and supplied him with writing material. The book was released in 1970 a fter four decades of trying to get the it published with the title Killer: A Journal of Murder. A documentary movie of his life and death titled: Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance, was released in 2012. Lesser donated his notes in 1980, to San Diego State University where it is housed as Carl Panzram papers.