C.W. McCall"Comin' Back for More"
[co-writer: Chip Davis] from
"The Real McCall: An American Storyteller"Alfred (Alferd) G. Packer
Maneater of Colorado!(January 21, 1842: Allegheny County, Pa April 23, 1907)In 1873, Alferd Packer, 31, left with a group of 20 others, Bingham Canyon, UT, near Salt Lake City, into the San Juan Mountains, Colorado to seek wealth mining minerals & gold... the miners soon grew hungry and desperate ...they arrived, Jan., 1874 into Chief Ouray's Ute camp, Colorado, and urged to remain until spring.On February 9, Packer joined four other prospectors, for Los Piños, a 10-day supply of food for a 75-mile trip.
The doomed men with Packer were:Shannon Wilson Bell
Israel SwanJames HumphreyFrank "Reddy" Miller,andGeorge "California" NoonAside from Packer, that was the last time anyone saw the men alive. Two months passed and Packer emerged alone from the wilderness, April 16. From all appearances, he had killed the others, survived off their meat, and enriched himself with their assets.August 1874FOUND PROSPECTORShalf-eaten human remains,
Slumgullion Pass, near Gunnison River, Lake City, CO.May 8, 1883:
[Packer gave a second confession, March 16]The five men died at various stages of their journey, either from starvation or killed in self-defense from hunger-mad attacks.Packer's statement
Order of Death
Packer and Bell remained:
"Bell wanted to kill me," Packer confessed, "struck at me with his rifle...." Packer killed him.
Packer's trial began, April 6, 1883, Hinsdale County Courthouse, Lake City, Co. Nine years after he'd emerged from the wilderness, Alfred Packer was convicted [Friday the 13th, April 1883] of premeditated murder --Israel Swan.
Packer was condemned to be hanged by Judge Gerry, whose apocryphal sentencing is excerpted here:
"Stand up yah voracious man-eatin' sonofabitch and receive yir sitince. When yah came to Hinsdale County, there was siven dimmycrats. But you, yah et five of 'em..."
Jailed in Saguache, he escaped , vanishing for several years, until March 11, 1883, Packer was *discovered in Cheyenne, Wyoming living under the alias, John Schwartze. He was tried again and sentenced to 40 years. Through the efforts of the Denver Post, who wanted to exhibit Packer as part of a circus, his conviction was reversed on a technicality, and he was freed in 1901 from Canon City Penitentiary [two of the publishers were shot by attorney, William Anderson, who was finally acquitted; the judge saying, "Your motive was admirable, but your marksmanship abominable"].
Paroled, February 8, 1901, he worked as a guard at the Denver Post.
He died in Deer Creek, Jefferson County, CO, reputedly of
"Senility - trouble & worry"--age 65.
Packer became a vegetarian before his death.
His grave is marked with a veteran's tombstone.
- Alferd Packer Grave:
6155 South Prince Street, Littleton, CO
The Alferd Packer Massacre Site, a remote wilderness in 1874, is now only five minutes south of the Lake City miniature golf course, and a very popular spot with shutterbugs. A big sign directs visitors to the spot, complete with cartoon caricatures of two mountain men, mouths agape in horror and shock as (we are left to imagine) an ax is driven into their skulls. A small rock marks THE spot, complete with a plaque listing the victims. Five tiny white crosses form a defensive line in front of it. Free brochures fill a metal box adjacent to the site, chock full of juicy tidbits about Alferd's ghastly doings.
There is some debate about the correct spelling of Packer's first name. His gravestone reads "Alfred," and there is an Alfred Packer listed in the census documents of the time. Actually, the story goes that Alfred got a tattoo which had his name. The tattooist misspelled his name "Alferd" and Packer sort of took to it, and used it except for on official documents and such.
Relics Of Alferd Packer, American Cannibal
130 Silver St., Lake City, CO
Comin Back For More