Victim Studies 022: Carl Panzramon July 23, 2012 in Serial Killers, Victim Studies, Victimology by Brian Combs
Carl Panzram was a serial killer whose murder series is thought to have spanned from 1906, at the age of 15, until his arrest in 1928. Panzram was found guilty after he confessed to the murders of 2 boys and 21 men throughout the United States and Angola. He was also found guilty got sodomizing more than 1,000 males. Although Panzram confessed to these murders, there is no way to know just how many victims he murdered or the identities of his victims.
Born on a farm in Minnesota, Panzram began his life of crime after his father abandoned the family when he was 7. By the age of 8, Panzram had already been arrested for being drunk and disorderly. He was an alcoholic, stole from his neighbors and was in trouble with the authorities for burglary.
After Panzram stole from his neighbors and was caught at the age of 11, his mother sent him to Minnesota State Training School. In this reform school the other boys physically and sexually abused Panzram. He received Christian training, but had very little formal education and did not know how to read well, for this he was punished severely. He wanted to have his revenge on those who were punishing him and so he burned down the workshop, though he was not charged for this crime. Panzram later confessed that he had committed his first murder in this reform school, but it has never been proven. Panzram learned to say what the staff wanted to hear so that he appeared to be reformed. He was released at the age of 14 to work on his mother’s farm and return to school. After a dispute with a teacher, Panzram boarded a train, never to return home.
Throughout many years Panzram would beg and steal his way through life, but did not commit murder. After leaving Minnesota, Panzram was raped by a group of men on a train. It is believed that after this event Panzram lost any sympathy or compassion that he had for the human race.
In 1906, after Panzram arrived at a reform institute, he committed his first murder when he killed a guard with a plank. Both he and his friend, Jimmie Benson, escaped from the reform school in 1907. In December of 1907, Panzram lied about his age and enlisted in the U.S. Army, but was jailed many times for his offences. In 1908, Panzram broke into the quartermaster’s building, stole items and attempted to go AWOL. He was arrested and he plead guilty to 3 counts of larceny. He was sent to the U.S. Federal Penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth. Panzram was tortured and beaten on a daily basis. He was discharged 1910 and wanted to take his revenge upon the world.
From 1910 onwards, Panzram would steal, rape and burn anything and anyone he could. He was arrested many times under different names, but never stayed in prison for too long. He always wanted to be free to rape and steal from more victims.
All of Panzram’s rape and murder victims were males. He never showed any interest in the opposite sex. Panzram later claimed that he was not a homosexual, but preferred to rape men because he wanted to be dominant and wanted to humiliate them. It was about control and power. Panzram was known to be very strong, so it was easy for him to overpower many men. There was no preference as to the age of his victims, so long as he considered them to not be too dirty and easy targets. After his arrest, Panzram confessed that he had raped over 1,000 men throughout his lifetime.
His murders were committed in Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Kansas and Angola. Panzram did not show any preference for his method of murder. He would shoot, beat or strangle his victims to death. In some cases Panzram claimed that he beat his victims so severely that their brain began to come out of their ears. This caused many of his victims to remain unidentified.
Many of the victims were drunk and were lured in through the promise of more alcohol. In many instances, he would lure in drunken sailors, rape them and then shoot them to death. During one point of his murder series, Panzram hired men to work on his boat, would make them drunk, steal from them, rape them and then would shoot them to death. To dispose of the victims, Panzram simply tossed many them into the water, placed branches over them or left them at the scene of the crime. All of his victims were raped and then stolen from, not because Panzram had intended to keep the items as tokens, but instead would pawn the items for cash. He never stayed in one location for too long because he did not wish to be caught.
In 1928, Panzram was arrested for burglary in Washington, but also confessed to the murders of two boys. He made friends with a prison guard who gave him the writing materials that he needed to write an autobiography. Panzram confessed to murdering 21 people along with burglaries, larcenies, robberies, arsons and confessed to over 1,000 acts of sodomy. Despite this long list of offences, Panzram was only sentenced to 25 years in prison. Upon entering Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary, Panzram told the warden that he would murder the first man that bothered him. On June 20, 1929, Panzram murdered Robert Warnke, a prison laundry foreman. Panzram was then sentenced to death for committing this murder and he did not appeal the verdict. On September 5, 1930, Panzram was hanged. During the process Panzram allegedly declared his desires to murder the human race and even critiqued the speed of the executioner. Although Panzram confessed to 21 murders there is no way of knowing how many victims he had throughout his murder series in the United States and Angola. Many of his victims were never found or identified.