Old West Lifestyle & Stories


On January 7, 1901 Alfred Packer was released from prison after serving 18 years.   Why was he in prison?  Cannibalism.

Back in the 1860’s Packer was a prospector in the Rocky Mountains.   Because of the meager pickings, he supplemented his income by serving as a guide in the Utah and Colorado wilderness.

In early November 1873, Packer left Bingham Canyon, Utah, leading a party of 21 men bound for the gold fields near Breckenridge, Colorado.  After three months of difficult travel, the party staggered into the camp of the Ute Indian Chief  Ouray, near present-day Montrose, Colorado.  The Ute graciously provided the hungry and exhausted men with food and shelter.  Although the Ute advised the men to stay in the camp until spring, Packer and five other men decided to continue the journey.

Two months later, Packer arrived alone at the Los Pinos Indian Agency, looking surprisingly fit for a man who had just completed an arduous winter trek through the Rockies.  At first Packer claimed he had become separated from his five companions during a blizzard and survived on wild game.

Later Packer confessed that four men had died naturally from the extreme winter conditions and the starving survivors ate them.  When only Packer and one other man, Shannon Bell, remained alive, Bell went insane and threatened to kill Packer.  Packer said he shot Bell in self-defense and eventually ate his corpse.

Packer was tried and a jury convicted him of manslaughter.  He remained imprisoned in the Canon City penitentiary until 1901 when the Denver Post published a series of articles and editorials questioning his guilt.

After his release Alfred Packer around Littleton, Colorado, maintaining his innocence until the day he died in 1907.

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