Serial killer Carl Panzram was filled with rage and hatred from a young age, and the hardships he endured while being incarcerated only fueled his unquenching anger. Let us have a look at the truly disturbing life he lived.
Carl Panzram’s Childhood
Carl was born on the 28th of June 1891 in Polk County Minnesota, his parents Johann and Matilda were East Prussian immigrants. Carl was raised on a farm with 4 other siblings, when his father abandoned the family Carl was enraged and started a life of crime.
Carl Panzram started stealing from a young age.
In 1903 he broke into a neighbor’s house and stole coke, apples, cakes and a revolver and after the incident, he was sent to Minnesota State Training School, he was 11 years old at the time.
At the training school Carl’s hate and rage for living things intensified and according to him the staff raped and beat him. He said he often had to dance naked for the staff members, the staff members renamed the training school “The Painting House” because children would leave the school bruised, bloodied and broken down.
Carl panzram makes a bomb and burns down a piece of the shool.
On the 7th of July 1905, he built a firebomb to burn down the school in retaliation for what they did to him. Because Carl had little education and struggled to read and write and most likely had problems understanding how to make firebomb and only managed to burn down the workshop.
After being in the training school Carl convinced them he was reformed and said they should release him into his mother’s care and they did.
Back home he refused to do any hard labor and convinced his mother he wanted to become a priest and she sent him to Immanuel Lutheran Church.
While at the church he threatened a teacher with a handgun and got expelled, by now he was an alcoholic and was frequently in trouble with the law for burglaries and theft.
In January 1906, Carl runs away and becomes a drifter he was only 14 at the time. He used trains as his way of transportation and claimed he was gang-raped by four hobos on a train which traumatize and filled him with more rage.
In 1907 he enlists in the army and a year later he was convicted of larceny and sent to Fort Leavenworth’s United States Disciplinary Barracks for 2 years. Carl was released in 1910 and was dishonorably discharged where he went back to his thievery, robbing and raping.
Carl Panzram’s Adult life
Carl would steal, rape, engage in vandalism, and arson to name but a few of his crimes. Because he was a heavy built and large man he would often overpower and rape the men he stole from. He traveled around the country and would often be apprehended by the law and given a prison sentence. Upon release, he would just continue with his crimes, and every time he was apprehended by the authorities he would sign a different name.
He undermines the prison guard’s authority and attacked them on multiple occasions. In retaliation the guards beat him and subject him to other forms of punishments, Carl often raped and harassed his fellow inmates as well. Carl would often boast about his criminal activities and for him, a normal day would consist of rape, theft and other criminal activities.
In 1915 he traveled through Idaho, California and other states along the Columbian River where he burned burglarized buildings, and raped countless young men and boys.
One day he broke into a house in Astoria, Oregon and looted the house, while he tried to sell the looted goods. He was apprehended by the authorities and sentenced to seven years at the Oregon State Penitentiary in Salem.
For Carl, life in prison was hard and the guards immediately disliked him. Warden Harry Minto was a firm believer in punishment in jail, he would torture, beat, and mistreat Carl and other inmates.
Carl Panzram had to eat cockroaches to survive!!!
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Carl spent 61 days in solitary confinement where the guards would hang him from the rafters for hours and turn a hose pipe on him. While he was in solitary confinement they did not provide him with any food and he started to eat the cockroaches that were on the floor. It was in solitary confinement that he decided he will not finish his 7 years sentence.
In the same year of he helps Otto Hooker escape, while on the run Otto killed Warden Harry and Carl was made an accessory to the murder. It was the first time Carl was involved in a murder case.
Carl escapes from prison.
On the 18th of September 1917, Carl escapes but, after a number of shootouts with the police he was recaptured. In May 1918, he sawed through the bars of his cell and escaped again, he took the freight train traveling east never to return. To change his appearance he shaved off his mustache and changed his name to John O Leary.
Carl went to New York where he joined a number of unions and got his Seaman Identification card. He joined a ship called James S. Whitney and traveled to Panama. When in Panama Carl plotted with another drunken sailor to steal a boat for him, the drunken sailor ended up killing everyone on the boat and got arrested. Carl took the boat to Peru where he briefly worked at a copper mine, and when the workers went on strike he moved to Chile. During the months that followed he traveled to Port Arthur, Texas, London, England, Glasgow, Scotland, Paris, France, and Germany.
In August 1920, he broke into the home of the then Secretary of War and later US President William H Taft in New Haven Connecticut. According to Carl, it was for revenge as William was responsible for his imprisonment at Leavenworth. He took jewels, money, bonds, and a Colt M1911 .45 Calibre handgun and bought himself a yacht called Akista with the money he stole from William.
In New York, he would lure sailors from the bars to his yacht where he got them drunk, raped them, and shot them with the pistol. He cruised along the East River and burglarized other yachts. He killed 10 sailors and dumped their bodies near Execution Rocks Light in Long Island. In August 1920 he lost his yacht during a storm in Atlantic City.In fear of the authorities, he fled on a ship leaving for Africa.
Carl Panzram flees to Africa
Carl got off in Angola where he killed and raped a young boy of about 11 or 12, he said the following of the murder “His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him and he will never be any deader.” According to Carl, he was in Angola for business where he worked for the Sinclair Oil Company as a foreman at an oil rig. He then moved to Lobito Bay where he hired 6 local workers to take him on a crocodile expedition via boat.
When the workers launched the boat into the water Carl shot them all and fed them to the crocodile’s, no one ever saw the workers bodies again. When he realized the local people saw him with the men he fled to the Gold Coast where he robbed farms and decided to save money to go to the Canary Islands. He was disappointed as there was nothing for him to steal and a year later he stowed away on a Lisbon bound ship, on the ship he found out the police were looking for him because of his crimes in Africa and soon after stowed away on a U.S. ship.
Carl Panzram returns to America
In 1922, he was back in America and in addition to theft, arson and burglary he added murder as well. On the 18th of July 1922, he beat a young boy from Salem, Massachusetts to death with a stone and in 1923; he strangled another boy from New Haven to death.
According to Carl he shot a man with a .38 pistol that he stole from the police chief in New Rochelle, New York, killed a man while breaking into a home in Baltimore and killed two Massachusetts boys after raping them. He said he was also responsible for mass killings and heinous acts and at one time poisoned a city’s water supply with arsenic.
In 1923, he was caught in Larchmont, New York while trying to rob a train depot he was sentenced to 5 years in Clinton Correctional Facility. Clinton Correctional had a reputation for being of one of the most brutal prisons in America. The guards would often abuse and torture inmates for no reason and Carl as always made no effort to be a model prisoner. Within a few months, he tried to firebomb the workshop and tried to kill a prisoner guard by clubbing him from behind. Not long after this, he tried to escape by jumping over the prison wall but, he fell down on a concrete step.
Carl broke his ankles, legs and his spine was badly injured and did not receive any medical treatment for 14 months. After they finally operated on him he raped a prison inmate and was sent to solitary confinement. While he was still in pain and full of rage against humanity he plotted different schemes of mass murder one of them was to scuttle a British warship docked in New York City Harbour in order to start a war between the two nations.
When he was released from prison he committed a dozen burglaries and strangled a man to death in Philadelphia.
Carl is arrested for the last time.
Although he was an elusive killer Carl was a bad thief and he was caught for the last time in 1928 while he was robbing a house in Washington DC.
Carl said he was getting bored of his life and confessed to the murders of the two boys in 1922 and 1923 and was sentenced to 25 years in Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. Carl had a specific hate for the Leavenworth prison and tried to escape but, was unsuccessful when the guards found out they handcuffed and suspended him from a beam where they beat him unconscious. A 26-year-old prison guard Henry Lesser felt sorry for him and gave him money for food and cigarettes. Henry and Carl became friends and Carl told him if he organized paper and writing tools he will write his autobiography.
Carl gave detailed accounts of his murders, shared his view of the world and voiced his criticism of the American justice system, describing the methods of torture used by prison officials. He told a warden “I’ll kill the first man that bothers me”, and because he was seen as psychotic and not deemed to be with the general population he was assigned a job at the prison laundry where he worked alone.
On the 20th of June 1929, he savagely bludgeoned his laundry supervisor Robert Warnke to death with an iron bar in front of other inmates and started attacking them too. Carl went on trial for the murder of Robert on the 14th of April 1930 was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.
Human rights activist group offered to oppose and intervene, his death sentence but, he refused their help. He said to the human rights activist group “The only thanks you and your kind will ever get from me for your efforts on my behalf is that I wish you all had one neck and that I had my hands on it.”
While he was on death row he confessed to murdering 21 people, committed thousands of burglaries, larcenies, arson and sodomy of more than 1000 thousand males and he had no remorse for any of his crimes.
Some of Carl Panzram’sconfirmed victims were the following:
- 1903 to 1905 – John Moore, he was Carl’s teacher at Minnesota Training School.
- 1907 – Bushart he is from Montana State Reform School.
- 1922 – George Henry McMahon he is from Salem, Massachusetts.
- 1923 – Alexander Luszzock and Alexander Uszacke, they were both from Philadelphia.
- 1929 – Robert Warnke he was a prison guard.
Carl Panzram is Executed and his Last Words
On the morning of the 5th of September 1930, Carl got his wish and was brought to the prison gallows, when they asked him whether he had any last words he said “Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill 10 men while you’re fooling around”. At 6:18 am he was pronounced dead and his body was never claimed and he was laid to rest in the prison cemetery.
Henry, Carl’s friend struggled for four decades trying to find a publisher who would be willing to print Carl’s autobiography because the story was too horrific and in 1970 it was published under the title Killer: A Journal of a Murder, the book was said to be a great insight into the mind of a serial killer.
First documentary released about Carl Panzram
The first documentary film of Carl was released in 2012, called Carl Panzram: The Spirit of Hatred and Vengeance.
Carl Panzram Quotes
“The only thanks you and your kind will ever get from me for your efforts on my behalf are that I wish you all had one neck and that I had my hands on it.”
“In my lifetime I have murdered 21 people human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry.”
“I was so full of hate that there were no room in me for such feelings as love, pity, kindness, honor or decency.”
“In my lifetime I have broken every law that was ever made by both man and God. If either had any more, I should very cheerfully have broken them also.”
“I made up my mind that I would rob, burn, destroy and kill everywhere I went and everybody I could as long as I lived.”
“I don’t believe in man, God nor Devil. I hate the whole damn race including myself. I preyed upon the weak, the harmless and the unsuspecting. The lesson I was taught by others: Might makes right.”
“If you think that you can stop crime by catching us, locking us up, punishing us by brutal treatment, hanging or electrocuting us, sterilizing or castrating us, then you are a fool for thinking that way. That only makes bad matters worse.”
“His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him. I am not sorry my conscious doesn’t bother me. I sleep sound and have sweet dreams.”
“After my head has been chopped off, I will still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from my neck. That would be the best pleasure to end all pleasures.”
“My conscience doesn’t bother me. I have no conscience. I believe the whole human race should be exterminated. I’ll do my best to do it every chance I get.”
“Yes, hurry up you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you’re screwing around.”
“Hurry up and bring on your electric chair I want to leave here and take a nose dive into the next world just to see if that one is as lousy as is this ball of mud and meanness. I am sorry for only two things. These two things are I am sorry that I have mistreated some few animals in my lifetime and I am sorry that I am unable to murder the whole damn human race.”
“I cried, I begged and pleaded for mercy, pity, and sympathy but, nothing I could say or do could sway them from their purpose. I left that box a sadder, sicker but, wiser boy.”
“I am 36 years old and have been a criminal all my life. I have 11 felony convictions against me. I have served 20 years of my life in jails, reform schools and prisons. I know why I am a criminal.”
“We would wine and dine and when they were drunk enough they would go to bed. When they were asleep I would get my .45 Colt automatic, this I stole from Mr Taft’s home, and blow their brains out.”
“I look forward to a seat in the electric chair or dance at the end of a rope just like some folks do for their wedding night.”
“You will find that I have consistently followed one idea through all my life…I pray upon the weak, the harmless and unsuspecting.”
“Everybody thought it was alright to deceive me, lie to me and kick me around whenever they felt like it, and they felt like it pretty regularly.”
“I’ve been all over the world and I’ve seen everything but hell and I guess I’ll see that soon.”
“To some of average intelligence, killing six at once seems an almost impossible feat. It was very much easier for me to kill those six than it was to kill only one of the young boys. I killed later and some of them were only 11 or 12 years old.”
“At that place, I got to be an experienced wolf. I would start in the morning with sodomy, work as hard at it as I could all day and sometimes half the night…I was so busy committing sodomy that I did not have time left to serve Jesus as I had been taught to do so in that reform school.”
“No one lays a hand on me. No one abuses me in any way. I have been trying to figure it out and I have come to the conclusion that, if in the beginning I had been treated as I am now, then there wouldn’t have been quite so many people that have robbed, raped and killed.”
“Mother was too dumb to know anything good to teach me. There was little love lost. I first liked her and respected her. My feelings gradually turned from that to distrust, dislike, and disgust and from there it was very simple for my feelings to turn into positive hatred towards her.”
“All of your police, judges, lawyers, wardens, doctors, National Crime Commissioners and writers have combined to found and remedy the cause and effect of crime. With all this knowledge and power at their command, they have accomplished nothing expect to make conditions worse instead of better.”
“All my associates, all of my surroundings, the atmosphere of deceit, treachery, brutality, degeneracy, hypocrisy, and everything that is bad and nothing that is good. Why am I what I am? I’ll tell you why. I did not make myself what I am. Others had the making of me.”
“I first began to think that I was being unjustly imposed upon. Then I began to hate those who abused me. Then I began to think that I would have my revenge just as soon and as often as I could injure someone else. Anyone at all would do.”
“Whenever I met one that wasn’t too rusty looking I would make him raise his hands and drop his pants. I wasn’t very particular either. I rode them old and young, tall and short, white and black. It made no difference to me at all except that they were human being’s.”
“It is unnatural that I should have absorbed these things and have become what I am today, a treacherous, degenerate, brutal human savage, devoid of all decent feeling, without conscience, morals, pity, sympathy, principle or any single good trait. Why am I what I am?”
“I stayed with him for about a month, hoboing our way east, stealing and burning everything we could. I taught him how to set fire to a church after we robbed it. We got very busy on that, robbing and burning a church regular every chance we get.”
“But he knew how to tell the parole board what they wanted to hear. I sung’em them the old song and gave’em them the same line about how I sure loved Jesus and what a good nice young man I was and how much good it had done me to be sent to prison.”
“I want to be hanged and I don’t want any interference by you or your filthy kind. I just know the more about the world and the essential evil nature of man and don’t play the hypocrite. I am proud of having killed off a few and regret that I didn’t kill more!”
“I grabbed him by the arm and told him I was going to kill him. I stayed with the boy about three hours. During that time I committed sodomy on the boy six times, and then I killed him by beating his brains out with a rock… I had stuffed down his throat several sheets of paper out of a magazine. I left him lying there with his brains coming out of his ears.”
“I made a full confession of this murder of McMahon. You send a number of witnesses from Salem to identify, which they done. I do not change my former confession in any way. I committed that murder. I alone am guilty. I not only committed that murder but 21 besides and I assure you here and now that if I ever get free and have the opportunity I shall sure knock off another 22.”
“So if I succeed in my effort at suicide tonight then this will sure be the last l’ll ever say or write on this earth. The choice is mine and I fully realize just what I am doing. I would like to have it known just why I do this. I had no choice in coming into this world and nearly all of my 38 years in it I have had very little to say or do about how I should live my life. People have driven me into doing everything I have ever done. Now the time has come when I refuse to be driven any further. Tonight I die and tomorrow I go to the grave farther than no man can drive me I am sure glad to leave this lousy people in this world and the lousier people that live in it. But of all the lousy people in this world I believe that I am the lousiest of them all. Today I am dirty but tomorrow I will just be dirt.”
“Always in pain, never a civil answer from anyone, always a snarl or curse or lying, hypocritical promise which was never kept, crawling around like a snake with a broken back, seething with hatred and lust with revenge, five years of this kind of life. The last two years and four months confined in isolation with nothing to do except brood. I hated everybody I saw.”
Carl Panzram Mental State
Carl was deemed psychotic by most prisons but, was never treated. He had no family background of psychopathy, no biological factors and had a deep hatred towards everybody including himself.
Carl did see himself as the victim of society. Because of his heinous crimes, he was dubbed by the world as too evil to live. Carl said, “My only regret is that I wasn’t born dead or not at all.”
The cause of his hatred was a mixture of nature and nurtured, Carl was born bad and no matter how much his mother tried to love him, he would still be a killer. Between his propensity for violence and the abuse he suffered at the boarding school, Carl’s fate was sealed.
One of the clear studies that were made about serial killers is that who we became due to genetics and environment can only be decided on a case to case basis. Interestingly Carl never showed any interest in women and although he was not a homosexual, rape was a way to torture and his preferred victims to rape were men.
After he contracted gonorrhea from a woman he stayed away from them. Even without any formal education, he was intelligent, and some say through his travels around the world he learned more than we will ever know.
Carl Panzram – Antisocial Personality Disorder
- Disregard for others
- Deceit and Manipulation
- Failure to conform to social norms
- Extremely irresponsible
- Excessively opinionated
- Conduct disorder before he was 15 years old.
- Disregard for others since the age of 15 years.
- Unlawful Behaviour
- Irritability, aggressiveness and reckless disregard for safety.
- His lack of remorse.
- Predisposing Factors
- Conduct disorder in young age
- Abuse or neglect
- Unstable Parenting
- Inconsistent discipline
- Suicidal Behaviour
- Risky Sexual Behaviour
- Child Abuse
- Work Problems
- Relationship Difficulty
It is very difficult to treat as most patients do not want help, medications and therapy can treat the side effects, making it easier to deal with the disorder.
About 4% of the population, 3% of males and 1% of women have Antisocial Personality Behaviour Disorder.
Carl Panzram – Legal Insanity
Carl was able to distinguish from reality and fantasy so by the legal standard he would have not been judged insane, the hatred that he had for humanity fuelled his crimes. To Carl his crimes were not immoral or unjustified and his murders also did not occur because of uncontrollable impulse, in every crime he was in control and he enjoyed it.
Carl Panzram – FBI Profile of a Serial Killer
- Ineffectual Loser
- History of Abuse
- Fantasy Occupation
- To drive a police vehicle
- Frequent Police Hangouts
- Animal Abuse
- Cruelty to Peers
- Take Trophies from his victims.
- Charming meaning he was a good liar when he needed to be one.
- His remorse was absent
- Stressors or Triggers
- His killing became more difficult with personalized victims.
- Carl would return to the scene of the crime.
- Homicidal trait
- Psychological Disorders of Carl Panzram
- Attention Deficit Disorder
The key element of this is impulsivity; inattention persistent pattern can be severe in frequent social situations, occupation and academic. Cognitive and behavioral disjunctions that were found in Carl are commonly treated by psychiatrists who specialize in rage and psychopathy.
Intermitted Explosive Disorder
People like Carl who suffered from this have aggressive and strong impulses which they cannot resist or act upon and this can results into property destruction and assaults. According to sources this is a rare disorder and usually occurs when people are in their 20’s.
A problem which consists of persistent and repetitive behavioural pattern in which involves contravention of social age, major appropriate norms and people basic rights are influenced.