Hungry for True Crime? The Story Behind the Famous Colorado Cannibal
It's grisly, it's gross, but people can't get enough. From unfortunate events like the Donner Party to fictional affairs like The Silence of the Lambs, everyone is curious about one of society's darkest practices.
Pardon the pun, but if you're hungry for true crime, then sit back and get ready — it's time to learn about the Colorado Cannibal.
Who Was the Colorado Cannibal?
According to Legends of America, the Colorado Cannibal was a man named Alferd Packer, born in Pennsylvania in 1842. Prior to people-eating, Packer served in the Civil War and as a shoemaker before making his way to the Rocky Mountains.
He began working as a mountain guide and picking up odd mining jobs in Utah when, in 1873, he joined a group of men searching for riches. They set out for Colorado and eventually met up with Ute Indian Chief Ouray in Montrose.
Chief Ouray advised the men not to continue their journey, citing an impending snowstorm. Ignoring his warning, the group trudged on. It was February of 1874.
How the Colorado Cannibal Weathered the Storm
Denver7 reports that, in April of 1874, Packer emerged from the snowstorm near Saguache. He looked healthy, had some extra money, and wasn't with any of the men in his group.
The public had questions, and Packer didn't have clear answers. According to the Colorado Virtual Library (CVL), he usually asserted that, while he killed one member of the group in self-defense, the others had died from the elements.
Then, he ate their remains to survive.
Authorities charged Packer with murder and jailed him. Denver7 notes that a Harper's Weekly employee found the remains of Packer's group in August of 1874 — the employee realized that someone had cut away the bodies' flesh.
Unfortunately, by that time, Packer was no longer in prison. He had escaped.
The Demise of the Colorado Cannibal
Packer was on the run for nine years before someone discovered him in Wyoming, CVL reports.
According to Denver7, a judge sentenced him to death before reducing his charges to manslaughter three years later due to a legal technicality. In 1901, Gov Charles. S. Thomas granted him parole, and he spent the rest of his life in Jefferson County.
The Legends of America states that Packer died from rumored dementia in 1907. His grave is still standing in Littleton.
The site of Packer's cannibalism is in Lake City, Colorado. Learn about other true crime locations and what they look like today in the gallery below.