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10 True Stories of Survival Cannibalism


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Alferd Packer
What's that uproarious scene? Why it's the 2002 mock trial for Alferd Packer at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, Co. Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images
What's that uproarious scene? Why it's the 2002 mock trial for Alferd Packer at the Littleton Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton, Co. Lyn Alweis/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The search for riches has traditionally led many astray, but according to some accounts, it made Alferd Packer of Colorado resort to cannibalism.

Here's what we know: In February 1874, Alferd (also confusingly called Alfred) left a camp in Colorado with a group of five prospectors bent on finding gold in the Breckenridge mountains. In April, Packer alone staggered into another camp and claimed a storm had hit. All the others had wandered off in search of food, never to be seen again, he said. The story seemed fishy. Finally, Packer admitted that after one of the men had died, they had eaten him. Three other men died from exposure, and Packer claimed to have killed one in self-defense [source: San Luis Valley Museum Association]. Packer was jailed on a murder charge.

More details emerged as the campsite was found in August of that year, and it appeared all the bodies had not died of exposure, but of brutal murder. Before he could be questioned further, Packer broke out of jail and lived on the lam for nine years before being caught. His story changed this time; he claimed one of the men had killed all the others for meat, but Packer still maintained the one murder he committed was in self-defense. He admitted that he lived on the meat of the others for two months, stuck in the mountains [source: Ramsland].

Fun fact: The creators of the show "South Park" wrote "Cannibal! The Musical" to tell Packer's story.


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