|Description of Colorado State Archive Holdings||Date||Arch#|
|Photograph & Negative of Al Packer # 1389||1886||60145B|
|Prisioner Index: Registered Name and Number||1887 - 1937||11720H|
|Prisioner Record: crime, sentence, record, phys. desc., etc.||1871 - 1924||11719C|
|Record of Convicts: Crime, Sentence, Where Born, Literate, etc.||1871 - 1891||11708A|
|Record of Convicts: same as above + his signature||1871 - 1891||8604B|
|Record of Paroles: date paroled and date returned||1899 - 1934||22106E|
|Parole Register: Date Sentenced, Date Expired, and Discharge||1893 - 1905||19441|
|Gov. Lamm Records: Request for Pardon by Judge Kushner||1979 - 1981||65100|
|Gov. Lamm Records: News Clippings and Correspondence||1980 - 1983||66281|
|Application for Pardon: Packer's Statement, Petitions, and Letters||1893||66550|
|Gunnison District Court: Original Cases 238 - 241||1883||8800D|
|Hinsdale District Court: Original Cases 238 - 241||1883||5221|
|Supreme Court: Briefs for Case # 3905||1898||38250|
|Supreme Court: Case #1753 Writ of Habeas Corpus and Brief||1885||38717|
|Supreme Court: Case # 3905 Transcript of Record for Gunnison||1898||38596|
|Supreme Court: Case # 1198 Briefs||1884||38312|
|Supreme Court: Case # 3239 Briefs||1893||38580|
|Supreme Court: Case # 3239 Transcript re: Writ of Habeas Corpus||1893||38703|
|Supreme Court: Case # 1198 Transcript re: Appeal of HDC # 379||1883 - 1885||38932|
|Supreme Court: Opinion in Case # 3905||1898||40599|
|Supreme Court: Opinion in Case # 1198||1885||19885E|
|Military Graves Registration: Military Record & Grave Location||1939||10604D|
|Alfred Packer Subject File||-||Ref. Desk|
|Executive Record: Governor Thomas' Conditional Pardon||1901||8844A|
For access to the Packer material please contact the Colorado State Archives.We have search, handling, and copy fees. Please contact us in order to find out the charges for y our request.
4/22 - Enlists in the 16th U.S. Infantry of Minnesota
12/29 - Mustered out of service in Ft. Ontario, New York due to epilepsy
6/10 - Enlists in the 8th Regiment, Iowa Cavalry
4/25 - Mustered out of service in Cleveland, Tennessee due to epilepsy
11/ ? - Party of 21 leaves Provo, Utah
1/21 - Meeting with Chief Ouray and winter encampment near Montrose, Colorado
2/9 - Party of 6 leaves winter encampment toward Gunnison
*** - Party becomes snow bound, hungry, and desperate enough for cannibalism
4/6 - Packer arrives alone at the Los Pinos Indian Agency near Gunnison
5/8 - Confession signed under General Adam's supervision
8/8 - Victims found, Packer mysteriously escapes from Saguache jail
8/? - John A. Randolph of Harper's Weekly discovers victims near Lake City
3/11 - Packer found under the alias "John Schwartze" by Frenchy Carbazon in Cheyenne
3/16 - Second confession signed under General Adam's supervision
4/6 - Trial begins in Lake City, Hindsdale County
4/13 - Packer is found guilty and receives death sentence
10 - Death sentence reversed by Colorado Supreme Court due to "grandfather clause"
8/5 - Packer sentenced to forty years in second trial in Gunnison
6/19 - Packer's sentence upheld by Colorado Supreme Court
1/8 - Packer is paroled by Colorado Governor Thomas and assisted by muckraker Poly Pry
1/10 - Moves to Deer Creek, Jefferson County
4/23 - Packer reputedly dies of "Senility - trouble & worry" and buried in Littleton
3/5 - Judge Kushner's posthumous pardon denied by Governor Lamm
9/17 - Exhumation project begins under the supervision of Scientific Sleuthing Inc.
I A.G. Packer do solemnly swear that the above statement is true and nothing but the truth So help me God.
A. G. Packer
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 8th day of May A.D. 1874. James P. Downer J.P.
The above is noted to be a "copy of statement made by Alfred Packer at Los Pinos Agency 1874" which was "filed April 4/83" Arthur P. Cook, Clerk.
When we left Ouray's camp we had about seven days of food for one man, we traveled two or three days and in came a storm. We came to a mountain, crossed a gulch and came onto another mountain, found the snow so deep, had to follow the mountain on the top and on about the 4th day we had about a pint of flour left; we followed the mountain, until we came to the main range, do not remember how many days we were travling then - about 10 days - living on rosebuds and pine gum and some men were crying and praying. Then we came over the main range we camped twice on a stream which runs into a big Lake, the second time just above the lake. The next morning we crossed the lake cut holes into the ice to catch fish, there were no fish so we tried to catch snails, the ice was thin, so some broke through. We crossed the lake and went into a grove of timber, all the men crying and one of them was angry - Swan asked me to go up and find out whether I could see something from the mountains - I took the gun and went up the hill. Found a gulch and came onto another mountain, found a big rosebush with buds sticking through the snow, but could see nothing but snow all around. I was a kind of a guide for them but I did not know the mountains from that side. When I came back to camp after being gone nearly all day I found the redheaded man [Bell] who acted crazy in the morning sitting near the fire roasting a piece of meat which he had cut out of the leg of the german butcher [Miller] the latters body was lying the furthest off from the fire down the stream, his skull was crushed in with the hatchet. The other three men were lying near the fire, they were cut in the forehead with the hatchet some had two some three cuts - I came within a rod of the fire, when the man saw me, he got up with his hatchet towards me when I shot him sideways through the belly, he fell on his face, the hatchet fell forwards. I grabbed it and hit him in the top of the head. I camped that night at the fire, sat up all night, the next morning I followed my tracks up the mountain but I could not make it, the snow was too deep and I came back, I went sideways into a piece of pine timber set up two sticks and covered it with pine boughs and then made a shelter about three feet high, this was my camp until I came out. I went back to the fire covered the men up and fetched to the camp the piece of meat that was near the fire. I made a new fire near my camp and cooked the piece of meat and ate it. I tried to get away every day but could not so I lived off the flesh of these men, the bigger part of the 60 days I was out. Then the snow began to have a crust and I started out up the creek to a place where a big slide seemed to come down the mountain of yellowish clay there I started to get up but got my feet wet and having only piece of blanket around them I froze my feet under the toes and I camped before I reached the top of the hill making a fire on top of a log - and on two logs close together [and] I camped [there]. I cooked some of the flesh and carried it with me for food. I carried one blanket. There was seventy dollars amongst the men I fetched it out with me and one gun. The redheaded man had a 50 Dollar Bill in his pocket all the others together had only 20 Dollars. I had 20 Dollars myself. If there was any more money in the outfit, I did not know of it and it remains there. At the last camp just before I reached the Agency I ate my last pieces of meat. This meat I cooked at the camp before I started out and put it into a bag and carried the bag with me, I could not eat but a little at a time. When I went out with the party to search for the bodies, we came to the mountains overlooking the stream but I did not want to take them further. I did not want to go back to the camp myself. If I had stood in that vicinity longer I would have taken you [Mr. Adams] right to the place, but they advised me to go away [refusing to tell the names of the parties]. When I was at the Sheriff in Saguache I was passed a key made out of a pen knife blade with which I could unlock the irons I went to the Arkansas and worked all summer for John Gill 18 miles below Pueblo, then I rented Gilberts ranche still further down, put in a crop of corn, sold it to John Gill and went to Arizona.
State of Colorado
County of Arapahoe
I, Al Packer, of my own free will and voluntarily do swear that the above statement is true, the whole truth and nothing but the truth
So help me God
(s) Alferd Packer
Subscribed and sworn before me this 16th day of March A.D., 1883
Sim. W. Cantril
A jury of twelve honest citizens of the county have set in judgment on your case, and upon their oaths they find you guilty of willful and premeditated murder - a murder revolting in all its details. In 1874 you in company with five companions passed through this beautiful mountain valley where stands the town of Lake City. At this time the hand of man had not marred the beauties of nature. The picture was fresh from the hand of the Great Artist who created it. You and your companions camped at the banks of a stream as pure and beautiful as ever traced by the finger of God upon the bosom of the earth. Your every surrounding was calculated to impress upon your heart and nature the omnipotence of Deity, and the helplessness of your own feeble life. I n this goodly favored spot you conceived your murderous designs.
You and your victims had had a weary march, and when the shadow of the mountains fell upon your little party and night drew her sable curtain around you, your unsuspecting victims lay down the ground and were soon lost in the sleep of the weary; and when thus sweetly unconscious of danger from any quarter, and particularly from you, their trusted companion; you cruelly and brutally slew them all. Whether your murderous hand was guided by the misty light of the moon, or the flickering blaze of the camp fire, you can only tell. No eye saw the bloody deed performed, no ear save your own caught the groans of your dying victims. You then and there robbed the living of life, and then robbed the dead of the reward of honest toil which they had accumulated; at least so say the jury. To other sickening details of your crime I will not refer. Silence is kindness. I do not say these things to harrow your soul, for I know you have drunk the cup of bitterness to its very dregs, and wherever you have gone, the sting of you conscience and the goadings of remorse have an avenging Nemesis which have followed you at every turn in life and painted afresh for your contemplation the picture of the past. I say these things to impress upon your mind the awful solemnity of your situation and the impending doom which you cannot avert. Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. You, Alfred Packer, sowed the wind; you must now reap the whirlwind. Society cannot forgive you for the crime you have committed. It enforces the old Masonic law of a life for a life, and your life must be taken as the penalty of your crime. I am but the instrument of society to impose the punishment which the law provides. Will society cannot forgive it will forget. As the days come and go, the story of your crimes will fade from the memory of men.
With God it is different. He will not forget, but will forgive. He pardoned the dying thief on the cross. He is the same God today as then - a God of love and of mercy, of long suffering and for kind forbearance; a God who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb, and promises rest to all the weary and heart-broken children of men; and it is this God I commend you.
Close up your ears to the blandishments of hope. Listen not to its flattering promises of life; but prepare for the dread certainty of death. Prepare to meet thy God; prepare to meet that aged father and mother of whom you have spoken and who still love their dear boy.
For nine long years you have been a wanderer upon the face of the earth, bowed and broken in spirit; no home; no loves; no ties to bind you to earth. You have been indeed, a poor, pitiable waif of humanity. I hope and pray that in the spirit land to which you are so fast and surely drifting, you will find that peace and rest for your weary spirit which this world cannot give.
Alfred Packer, the judgment of this Court is that you be removed from hence to the jail of Hinsdale County, and there be confined until the 19th day of May, A.D. 1883, and that on said 19th day of May 1883, you be taken from thence by the Sheriff of Hinsdale County, to a place of execution prepared for this purpose, at some point within the corporate limits of the town of Lake City, in the said County of Hinsdale, and between the hours of 10 A.M. and 3 P.M. of said day, you then and there, by the said Sheriff, be hung by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead, and may God have mercy upon your soul."
My Kind Friend - Your welcome favor of the 22nd inst. Has been received, and in reply to your request I gladly comply by giving to you as complete a statement as it is possible for me to, viz: In the fall of 1873 a party of men left Salt Lake City by wag on, there being teams and pack animals. In leaving we were deficient in supplies for the entire journey. But this matter can hardly be attributed to either myself or anyone else of the party of twenty one (21), for the agreement was that the men who owned the teams were to furnish our sustenance. But unfortunately our supplies were exhausted by the time that we reached the Green River, at the head of the Colorado. And now, my kind friend let me impress upon you the painful fact that thus early in our journey we were suffering most terrible from the pangs of hunger. For about five days we had been surviving on horse feed, which was chopped barley. Just at this point we ... Ouray and a band of fifty Indians, from whom we received assistance. And, being informed by Chief Ouray that the mountains were impassable, owing to the great amount of snow, we availed ourselves of his invitation and camped within two mile of him, and from whom we purchased supplies.
After having been in this camp for about one week a man by the name of Lutzenheiser and four other men started for the agency, having been informed by Chief Ouray that from his camp to the Indian Agency it was forty miles, while in fact, by air line, it was eighty miles. Lutzenheizer and his party had no other provisions, only what each man carried, they being on foot.
As a result their provisions soon became exhausted. And these five men had concluded to cast lot to see who should be food for the others. But just at this time a coyote was seen, which was immediately killed, and was the means of saving one of that party from a tradgical fate. And, as this party neared the cattle camp where Gunnison now stands, Lutzenheiser saw a cow fast in the snow and he crawled up to her and shot her with his revolver. The man who had charge of the cattle, happening to be out looking for his herd saw the tracks which Lutzenheiser had left, and, following these tracks, he soon found Lutzenheiser in an exhausted condition. He took him into this camp and followed his trail back and found the remaining four of the party, whom he also took into the camp, a man by the name of George Driver being the last, who was carrying the head of the coyote. Here they remained until they had become physically recruited, when they started for the Los Pinos agency, which was forty miles into the mountains, at which place they were again picked up in a fainting condition. All of which was sworn to at the time of my trial and is a matter of court record.
And now I return to my own party, which composed six men, myself included. There being two trails to the agency, about one week after Lutzenheiser's party left, we took the upper trail for the purpose of reaching the same destination. We also were on foot, and carried what provisions we could in blankets. After nine days our provisions were entirely exhausted. The snow being deep, we were compelled to keep on top of the divide, in order to travel at all. And these divides led to the top of the Rocky mountains. Our matches had all been used, and we were carrying our fire in an old coffee pot. Three or four days after our provisions were all consumed we took our moccasins, which were made of raw hide, and cooked them, and, of course, ate them. Our suffering at this time was most intense, such, in fact, that the inexperienced cannot imagine. We could not retrace our steps, for our trail was entirely drifted over. In places the snow had been blown away from patches of wild rose bushes, and we were gathering the buds from these bushes, stewing them and eating them. In following these divides we soon gained the tip of the Rocky Mountains, and the snow being blown away from the top of the mountains and our feet encased in pieces of blankets, we were enabled to travel along steadily. Now my friend, you can imagine our condition, on top of the mountains, with nothing to kill for food and not even any of those rose bushes.
Starvation had fastened its deathly talons upon us, and was slowly but most tortuously driving us into the state of imbecility; in fact, Bell, the strongest and most able-bodied man of our party, had succumbed to the power of mental derangement and was causing the party to be very much afraid of him, as well as that which they felt to be the inevitable doom of each, mentally. I am at a loss to fully express our feelings at this stage, but we consulted each other and conclude to come down off the mountain. For we could not tell whether we had passed the agency or not, for it was either snowing or blowing constantly. And, as it happened, we descended to the lake fork of the Gunnison river. We camped one night just above the lake. In the morning I ascended the mountain for the next purpose of ascertaining if there were any visible signs of civilization on the opposite side. The snow being very deep, it required the entire day to make this trip and return.
As I neared the camp on my return I was confronted by a terrible sight. As I came near I saw no one but Bell. I spoke to him, and then, with the look of a terrible maniac, his eyes glaring and burning fearfully, he grabbed a hatchet and started for me, whereupon I raised my Winchester and shot him. The report from rifle did not arouse the camp, so I hastened to the campfire and found my comrades dead.
Can you imagine my situation - my companions dead and I left alone, surrounded by the midnight horrors of starvation as well as those of utter isolation? My body weak, my mind acted upon in such an awful manner that the greatest wonder is that I ever returned to a rational condition.
In looking about I saw a piece of flesh on the fire, which Bell had cut from Miller's leg. I took this flesh from the fire and lay it to one side, after which I covered the bodies of my dead comrades. I remained here with them during the night. In the morning I moved about 1,000 yards below, where there was a grove of pine trees. I distinctly remember of taking a piece of the flesh and boiling it in a tin cup. I also know that I became sick and suffered most terribly. My mind at this period failed me. But I am satisfied that I must have eaten some of the flesh, but my mind was a total blank for a considerable period of time. When my mind returned I found, by my tracks, that I had been visiting around the adjacent territory, seeking rose buds, which I apparently found, for I noticed that by force of habit I had been stewing them in my tin cup. The record of time now becomes a nonentity. I do not know how long I remained here. I did not know how near I was to the close of the year. I could not tell how near spring was. But the weather began to moderate and I wandered around seeking rose buds for food, when all of a sudden I was confronted by the Los Pinos agency. It would be a mild assertion for me to say that I was surprised. And most agreeable it was, too. I found out that in my searching for food and civilization I had traveled forty miles from the lake fork of the Gunnison.
For three weeks I was taken care of at the agency. I have learned that Lutzenheiser and his party had crossed the mountains into Siwatch. The remaining of the twenty-one men now at the end of this three weeks came through with a band of Indians. They questioned me as to where my comrades were. I replied that I had killed Bell and that evidently he had killed the others. In a day or two we left the agency and started with the teams to go over to Siwatch. We remained in Siwatch until General Adams, the Indian agent, returned from Denver. I then explained to the general all I knew about my dead comrades, and an expedition was fitted out to return and bury them. We had not gone far on this journey before we were compelled to turn back to the agency, owing to the great depth of snow and the crust which was upon it. After returning to the agency I was turned over to the sheriff of Siwatch, with whom I remained until the middle of July. At this time the sheriff, Amos Wall, asked me if I could realize what I had passed through. In reply I gave him as complete an explanation as I could, after which he told me to go away and not permit it to longer worry me.
I did as he advised, so far as to the going away, and after the lapse of ten years I was arrested in 1885 upon the charge of having murdered my companions. The result of my trial is well known to all; how the supreme court granted me a new trial, and how I was convicted of manslaughter upon five different indictments, tried by one and the same jury, receiving an accumulative sentence of forty years, being eight years for each.
Now, my kind friend, in conclusion permit me to say that I am to-day, as ever before, a member of the human family, although isolated and away from that which is dear to the heart of every man. Am I the villainous wretch which some have asserted me to be? No man can be more heartily sorry for the acts of twenty-four years ago than I. I am more a victim of circumstances than of atrocious designs. No human being living can say that I in cold blood, with evil intent, murdered my companions upon that awful occasion. What could be the object of my taking their lives in a wanton manner? I bear no malice towards living man. Even though I may feel that I have been unjustly dealth with, still that Supremacy which rules over all knows that I forgive as I would wish to be forgiven.
In this the darkest hour of my earthly existence I feel, as I have long felt, that I would have far better off had my execution taken place years ago, and I might now be with those companions, whose ghosts, I assure you do not haunt me, for if the soul has existence beyond this mortal life, each and every one of those unfortunate men knows that I am innocent. As it is there is some unexplainable power which retrains my hand from freeing my soul. Hence all the brightness in the firmament of my earthly future is centered in the hope that I may eventually be given an opportunity of proving to the world that I am "less black than has been painted." And to all my kind friends I can but reiterate that my heart to-day, as before, abounds with thankful gratitude for your many expressions of good will. I should like to be set at liberty under the banner of a pardon, but if that should not be deemed best, I would gladly avail myself of the opportunity that a commute would give of showing that I came into existence under circumstances similar to that of others, and that I still possess a desire to live and do right. O! my friend! Were it not for the flame of hope which forever burns within the human heart, life would certainly be beyond endurance. Gratefully Yours,
It is, therefore, ordered that the said application be granted and that the said Packer be paroled and permitted to go at large, but within the State of Colorado subject to the terms and conditions of said act, and the rules prescribed and to be prescribed thereunder, and the agreement to be signed by him as a condition thereof.
Campbell, Malcolm. Malcolm Campbell, Sheriff. Casper, Wy.: Wyomingana Inc., 1932, pp. 89 - 96.
Cerveri, Doris. "Colorado's Long-Haired Cannibal." True West, 44/10, 10/1/97, pp.26.
Dunklee, Edward V., "Colorado Cannibalism." The Westerners. Denver Posse. Brand Book, 1946, pp. 95 - 114.
Fenwick, R.W., Alfred Packer - The True Story of the Man-Eater. Denver Post, Denver, 1963.
Fowler, Gene. Timberline. New York: Covici & Friede, 1933, pp. 21 - 38.
Frisby, E.M., Littleton Cemetery and the Life of Alfred Packer, 1842 - 1907. Friends of Littleton Cemetery, 1986.
Gantt, Paul H. The Case of Alfred Packer, the Man-eater. Denver: University of Denver Press, 1952.
Hall, Frank. History of Colorado Volume III. Chicago: The Blakely Printing Co., 1891, pp. 245-254.
Hodges, Joseph G., "The Legal Experiences of Mr. Alfred Packer," Dicta, June 1942, vol. 19, pp. 149 - 154.
Jacobs, Pat. Mountain Man or Mountain Madness?: Alfred Packer, Colorado Cannibal. Lake City, Co.: 1965.
Jessen, K., Eccentric Colorado: A Legacy of the Bizarre and Unusual. Boulder, Co.: Pruett Publishing, 1985.
Jocknick, Sidney. Early Days on the Western Slope of Colorado. Denver, 1913, pp. 65 - 80.
Kushner, Ervan F. Alferd G. Packer, Cannibal! Victim? Frederick, Co.: Platte 'N Press, 1980.
Mazzulla, Fred. Al Packer; A Colorado Cannibal. Denver, 1968.
Moses, Albert L., "Judge Gerry's Sentence of Alfred Packer," Dicta, July 1942, Vol. 19, pp. 169 - 171.
Porter, Olive Nagel. A Remembrance of Alfred Packer. 1965.
Scientific Sleuthing Inc. Alfred G. Packer Exhumation Project, Lake City, Colorado, July 17, 1989. Washington D.C.: George Washington University, 1989.
Simpson, A.W. B., Cannibalism & the Common Law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
Stimson, George P. The Strange Case of Alfred Packer. Cincinnati, Ohio: Literary Club, 1945.
Rocky Mountain News
Colorado Lore, Legend, & Fact
The Ballad of Alfred Packer
The Alfred Packer Story - The Other Side of the Coin
Alfred Packer's Gravestone
Roadside America's Packer Site
Trey Parker's Alfred Packer: The Musical
Last modified March 12, 2007