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The Story Of Carl Panzram: Believed By Many To Be The Most Brutal Serial Killer In Modern History

Carl Panzram was responsible for the murder of 21 people and had committed thousands of other crimes, ranging from sexual assault, sodomy, theft, and burglary. Labeled by many as the most brutal serial killer in modern-day history.


Was Carl Panzram the most brutal serial killer of all time?
Was Carl Panzram the most brutal serial killer of all time?

Before his execution, Carl Panzram proudly confessed to 21 murders, over 1,000 acts of sodomy, and a catalog of arsons and robberies. He showed no remorse whatsoever for his victims, and in his own words, he said, "For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry."


For almost three decades prior to his execution in 1930, Charles "Carl" Panzram committed a litany of horrific crimes without any hesitation and no shred of remorse. When Panzram was first admitted to prison ahead of his hanging, he quickly exclaimed to the warden that he would kill the first man that bothered him in any way - and that's exactly what he did.



Before authorities managed to get Panzram into prison, he carried out one of the most horrifying sexual assault and murder sprees in modern-day history.


The Early Years Of Carl Panzram


Carl Panzram's brutal and sadistic behaviour has often been blamed on his childhood by various criminologists. Born in 1891, in Minnesota, Panzram was the son of two East Prussian immigrants. His father abandoned the family when Carl Panzram was a young boy, and at the young age of 12, he committed his first burglary, stealing apples, cake, and a gun from one of his neighbours.


He was sent to Minnesota State Training School for this first burglary, it was here that he was beaten, tortured, and raped by the staff who worked at the school, he was released in his teens, and shortly after he ran away from home.


Panzram never stayed in the same place for long, he would move from place to place by hopping train cars, during one of his frequent journeys in a train wagon he was attacked by a group of homeless people and violently gang-raped. Later, Carl Panzram explained how the event had shocked him but had made him "a much wiser boy" - It didn't take long before Panzram started raping people himself.


Carl Panzram continued riding the trains, setting fire to buildings, and committing thefts, his stealing landed him in trouble with the police once again in 1908. This time he was convicted and shipped to Fort Leavenworth's United States Disciplinary Barracks. As soon as he was released he went straight back into his life of crime, being arrested and sentenced on numerous different occasions in the following years, Panzram was many things, however, an elusive thief he was not.


Could Carl Panzram Have Been Stopped Much Earlier?


In 1915, Carl Panzram was again arrested for stealing, this time he was sentenced to serve seven years at the Oregon State Penitentiary. He was a difficult prisoner, refusing to cooperate with any form of authority, this led to an extremely tough time in prison, the guards took an instant dislike to Panzam and went out of their way to ensure his life was hell whilst there. They beat him constantly, hung him from rafters, and locked him away in solitary confinement for long lengths of time. During his time in solitary confinement, Panzram ate little else but cockroaches.


Mugshot of Carls Panzram
Mugshot of Carls Panzram

Within his first year of imprisonment at Oregon State Penitentiary, Carl Panzram became an accomplice to murder. He had helped another inmate, Otto Hooker, escape from the prison, and whilst Hooker was on the run he had killed the penitentiary's warden, which resulted in Panzram being an accomplice in the murder.


After the breakout by his fellow inmate, Panzram himself also escaped the prison in 1917, but he was quickly re-arrested by authorities and sent back. Then in 1918, clearly undeterred by his first failure, Panzram escaped once again.


In 1920, Panzram bought a yacht named the Akiska. That same year he began luring drunk American soldiers from bars to his yacht, where he raped them, killed them, and dumped their bodies in an Atlantic Ocean estuary.


His yacht eventually sank and Panzram decided he was going to head towards Africa. He got off in Angola where he raped a young boy and murdered him. When talking about that particular incident, he later wrote, "His brains were coming out of his ears when I left him and he will never be any deader."



Just a few days later, Panzram killed six local guides who were intending on leading him on a crocodile hunting expedition.


Approximately a year later, Carl Panzram became bored of Africa and decided it was time for him to move on. His next stop was Lisbon, however, police were looking for him in Portugal, having found out about his murders in Africa. Feeling like the net was closing in on him, Panzram made the decision to return to the United States.


Carl Panzram's Run Up To Execution


Once he was back in America, Panzram continued his callous spree of killing and raping young men. He was a beast of a man, powerful, and strong enough that he could overpower youngsters and most fully grown men with relative ease. But while Panzram was an elusive killer, he was a terrible thief.


In 1928, he was once again arrested for robbery and sent to Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. He was then sentenced to 25 years after confessing to the murder of two young boys.


Once again Carl Panzram tried to escape from prison, this time, unsuccessfully. He was caught by the guards who beat him unconscious. The following year, Carl Panzram beat the laundry foreman to death with an iron bar. It was this crime that ultimately led to his death sentence.


The death sentence was exactly what Carl Panzram wanted, human rights activists even tried to stop the execution on his behalf, he scorned them for their efforts and even stated that he wished he could kill them all.



Somehow, a guard by the name of Henry Lesser took pity on Panzram and gave him a dollar to buy cigarettes, this led to the pair becoming friends.


Before long Henry Lesser started bringing writing materials to Panzram, even encouraging him to write down his life story. That is exactly what Carls Panzram did, detailing all the chilling facts of his murders.


In 1970, Henry Lesser actually published Carl Panzram's writings in Panzram: A Journal of Murder. The killer's confessions were certainly graphic and only recommended for the most hardcore true crime enthusiasts.


Carl Panzram had just a year to put his whole life story onto paper before he was hanged in 1930. His last words before his execution were, "Hurry it up, you Hoosier bastard! I could kill a dozen men while you're screwing around!"


Now you have learned about the harrowing crimes of Carl Panzram, next learn about Edward Paisnel, The Beast of Jersey.