Alfred Packer (1874)
The Colorado Cannibal
Digging up bodies has become an America growth industry. Uneasy lie the bones of the famous or notorious who die in anything other than the most mundane circumstances; chances are, it won’t be long until the forensic resurrectionists congregate at graveside, with their shovels, pickaxes, arc lights, video cameras, and all the other paraphernalia of the well-funded exhumation. The often lucrative world of vanity forensics can take many forms; always, though, the declared intent is the same—to finally uncover the absolute truth.
If only it were that simple. For as the following case demonstrates, the truth can often be as elusive in death as it is in life.
Throughout most of the nineteeth century, Alfred Packer has either been damned as a cannibal or regarded as a source of thigh-slapping merriment. For his pains, this self-confessed man-eater has become a stop on the Colorado tourist trail, the recipient of his very own “day” at the University of Colorado, a face on a T-shirt, the subject of a Phil Ochs’s folk song, a cult movie musical, and the launch pad for a thousand cringe-making puns. Out where Packer starved and carved in western Colorado, institutions were quick to cash in on his notoriety. One, the “Cannibal Café,” proudly boasted, “We’d Love to Have You for Dinner”; another diner offered the “Packer Platter—for man-sized appetites;” while in Lake City the
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Publication information: Book title: A Question of Evidence: A Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies, from Napoleon to O.J. Contributors: Colin Evans - Author. Publisher: Wiley. Place of publication: Hoboken, NJ. Publication year: 2003. Page number: 30.
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