Carl Panzram (28 June 1891 – 5 September 1930) was an American serial killer. He often used aliases such as "Carl Baldwin", "Jack Allen" and
"Jefferson Baldwin" in Oregon; "Jeff Davis" in Idaho and Montana; "Jefferson Davis" in California and Montana; "Jeff Rhodes" in Montana; "John
King"; and "John O'Leary"
He was born Charles Panzram in Minnesota, the son of Prussian immigrants, Johann "John" and Matilda
Panzram, and raised on his family's farm. By his teens, he was an alcoholic and was repeatedly in trouble
with the authorities, usually for burglary and theft. He ran away from home at the age of fourteen and
claimed to have been gang raped by a group of hobos.
In adulthood, Panzram was a prolific thief, but he was frequently caught and imprisoned. While
incarcerated, Panzram would frequently get into trouble by attacking guards and refusing to follow their
orders. The guards would retaliate, subjecting him to beatings and punishments. Panzram had served a
jail sentence from 1908 to 1910 at Fort Leavenworth's United States Disciplinary Barracks for larceny
shortly after enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1907. William Howard Taft was then Secretary of War and had
approved the sentence. In August 1920, Panzram robbed Taft's New Haven home, stealing a large
amount of jewelry and bonds, as well as Taft's .45 caliber handgun, which Panzram then used in several
On June 15, 1915, Panzram burgled a house in Astoria, Oregon, and was arrested soon after when attempting
to sell some of the stolen items. He was sentenced to seven years, to be served at the Oregon State
Penitentiary in Salem, where he arrived on June 24. On arrival, he became inmate number 7390 and was
under the supervision of the warden Harry Minto, who believed in harsh treatment of inmates, which included
beatings and isolation among other disciplinary measures. Later, Panzram stated that he swore he “would
never do that seven years and I defied the warden and all his officers to make me.”
Panzram was disciplined several times while incarcerated, including 61 days in solitary confinement, before
escaping on September 18, 1917. Earlier, he had helped Otto Hooker escape from the prison, and Hooker
killed Minto while evading capture. While on the lam, Panzram was involved in two shootouts before being
returned to the prison. On May 12, 1918, he sawed through the prison bars and escaped again. This time, he
avoided capture and caught a freight train heading to the east. He never returned to the Northwest, and
changed his name to John O’Leary while shaving off his moustache.
remains into the river. He claimed to have killed ten in all. He was stopped only when the vessel he was in was shipwrecked near Atlantic City,
In 1920, Panzram committed his first murders. He lured sailors in New York away from bars, got them drunk, shot them and dumped their any
Back in America, Panzram claimed to have shot a man dead for trying to rob him. He also asserted that he raped and killed two small boys,
beating the former to death with a rock on July 18, 1922 in Salem, Massachusetts and strangling the latter later that year in New Haven,
Washington, D.C. and an August 1928 murder in Philadelphia. Three of these last five killings are confirmed. With the death of the Oregon
prison warden, Panzram was involved in at least one murder, as an accessory before the fact, prior to 1920.
In his autobiography, Panzram wrote that he was "rage personified", and he would often rape men whom he robbed, not because he was
necessarily homosexual, but because it was his method of dominating and humiliating people. He also engaged in vandalism and arson, at one
point considering an ambitious plot to scuttle a British warship docked in New York harbor in order to provoke a war between Britain and the
By his own admission, one of the few times he did not engage in criminal activities was when he was "employed" as a strikebreaker against
union employees. On another occasion, he tried to sign aboard as a ship's steward on a US Army Transport vessel, but was discharged when
Clinton Correctional Facility New York, Washington D.C. and Leavenworth, Kansas .
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