Skip to comments.Bits of suspected finger-bones found at 'Alferd' Packer massacre site -
Posted on 09/06/2004 11:25:19 AM PDT by UnklGene
Bits of suspected finger bones found at 'Alferd' Packer massacre site -
By Nancy Lofholm Denver Post Staff Writer
Lake City - A stiff and cold wind pushed menacing clouds over Slumgullion Pass as a team of historians and scientists made the latest gruesome find in a 130-year-old case of cannibalism. Finger bones.
At least that's what the researchers who combed over the Alfred Packer massacre site last week believe the little dumbbell-shaped nuggets are. They found them buried in soft dirt down a hillside from where the five victims of the bizarre crime are buried.
The bones were likely left in the slope, they surmise, when the butchered bodies were dragged up to higher ground from the place they were killed along the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River.
The bone bits are just another gory detail in a case that still grips imaginations and generates research a dozen decades after a judge here sent the man-eating Packer to prison.
"People can't get enough of Alferd Packer," part-time Lake City Municipal Judge Al Lutz said as he gathered in the Hinsdale County Courthouse with dozens of other Lake City residents who make a habit of re- enacting Packer's trial.
Most in Lake City refer to "Alferd" Packer, which he had tattooed on his arm, when referring to the notorious cannibal. However, Civil War documents, court documents and other contemporary records show "Alfred." Yet another mystery.
Packer and his fellow prospectors had been traveling from Salt Lake City to an Indian agency south of Gunnison when they became lost and stranded in a fierce winter storm early in 1874. Packer was the only one to walk out several months later, and he was charged with killing the others when their filleted bodies were found.
Packer admitted eating their flesh but claimed he killed only one of the men in self-defense after that man went berserk and killed the others.
There may not be anyone in Lake City so consumed with the tale as David Bailey, curator of the Museum of Western Colorado.
Bailey organized the interdisciplinary team of researchers for the "Al Packer Lost Camp Expedition" last week. The expedition was a last sweep of the massacre site with metal detectors, climbers and the practiced eyes of archaeologists.
They also inspected a sheltered spot several miles away that Bailey's archive research indicates is the camp where Packer spent two months eating meat while waiting for spring thaw.
Bailey came with a film crew that is creating a History Channel cannibalism special, which will follow a National Geographic special filmed here several weeks ago.
Bailey's last expedition before he publishes a book on his decade of Packer research didn't turn up any startling new information - just the possible bones and a charcoal nugget from the massacre camp.
The "lost camp," which was located through historic descriptions of the site, didn't yield any physical evidence.
Folks in Lake City say they don't mind. The mystery helps to fuel the unflagging interest in anything Packer.
This summer, tourists packed the Lake City courtroom for the weekly trial re-enactment. They came for a Memorial Day revival of the Alferd Packer Days festival, when the town of 700 was hopping with bone-tossing competitions, mystery meat barbecues and buyers for memorabilia like "Packer preserves" - jars filled with doll heads.
"Some people think it's gross," said Timberline gift shop owner Kathy Kent. "But there's still so much interest."
Staff writer Nancy Lofholm can be reached at 970-256-1957 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
"Finger" food. Check out the "Alferd Packer Memorial Cafetoria" at the university.
Don't know if it's true but I had heard the student cafeteria at the University of Colorado is named for Packer.
He is buried in Littleton.
Packer "ate the only Democrats in Lake County", according to legend.
Legend has it that Judge Melville B. Gerry of Lake City, a Democrat, pronounced sentence upon Packer this way: "You voracious man-eating son of a bitch, there was seven Democrats in Hinsdale County and you ate five of them. God damn you! I sentence you to be hanged by the neck until you are dead, Dead, DEAD, as a warning against reducing the Democratic population of Hinsdale County. Packer, you Republican cannibal, I would sentence you to Hell but the statutes forbid it."
Tasty morsels those demoncRATS!
""Finger" food. Check out the "Alferd Packer Memorial Cafetoria" at the university."
I wondered how long it would take, for someone to bring that up.
Similar to the 'Jeffrey Dahmer Memorial Cafeteria'.