When people think about stereotypical criminals in the early 1900s, young Carl Panzram fits the bill perfectly. He had a bit of an alcohol problem, was always getting into trouble with the police, and ran away from home when he was only 14 years old.
In order to try and escape his troubled past, Panzram enlisted in the US Army, where he was promptly charged with larceny and ordered to serve a two year prison sentence by future president William Howard Taft. Panzram claimed that any shred of good left in him was destroyed in this time.
He was not reformed whatsoever in his time in prison, as after his release he continued his thieving ways. After being caught and imprisoned several times under several aliases throughout the country, Panzram emerged truly evil. His time in prison was full of beatings, as he routinely attacked guards and neglected their orders.
Panzram’s lack of remorse and huge physical frame helped create the monster he decided to become after his time in prison. He described himself as “rape personified” as his lack of remorse and physical strength made him nearly impossible to fend off, even though all of his victims were male. The only time in his life where he didn’t actively engage in crime was during his time as a strikebreaker, until he was dismissed for showing up to work intoxicated.
On June 1, 1995, after burglarizing a house in Oregon, Panzram was arrested while trying to sell stolen items. Panzam was sentenced to seven years in a penitentiary where the warden believed in harsh treatment of prisoners. Panzram was involved in the murder of the warden when he helped a fellow inmate escape. Like the true outlaw he was, Panzram was able to escape himself by sawing through his jail cell and escaping east via freight train.
After his escape, he raided William Howard Taft’s home, stole a gun, and began a murder spree. He would lure sailors outside of bars, get them drunk, and kill them before disposing of their bodies in a body of water. Panzram continued his spree after catching a boat to Africa, as he admitted to killing children and men while he was there.
All in all, Panzram confessed to over 20 murders and thousands of rapes and other personal injury. When he was sentenced to the death penalty, he refused any appeals, and asked his executioner to hurry up. Panzram wrote about his horrifying crimes in detail while on death row, and his story has been made into several movies and documentaries. He is the embodiment of evil.