Carl Panzram: The World's Worst Serial Killer

History's most sadistic serial killer is best known for his heinous comments about his victims. Carl Panzram confessed to 22 murders and convicted of 4. He started his criminal career when he was just five years old by stealing from local shops. By the time he was nine-years-old, he was in juvenile court on drunken disorderly conduct. 

When he was 12, he was sent to a training school where he was beaten, tortured, and sexually assaulted by staff members. He ended up burning the school down in 1905. 

By the time he was 15, he committed dozens of thefts, assaults, arsons, and robberies. He was convicted of larceny and was sentenced to Fort Leavenworth's United States Disciplinary Barracks for two years. He famously said that his time at the barracks is what "smashed the good out of him."

Panzram published an autobiography in 1929 titled Killer: A Journal of Murder. He detailed his life struggles as well as his time at multiple correctional facilities. He also told the stories of his horrific crimes and countless robberies and sexual assaults on his victims. He was a scammer for his entire life. He even escaped multiple prisons multiple times. 

His murder spree began in 1920 and spanned eight years. He began with luring sailors in New York City into dark alleys to rob and assault them. He claimed to have killed 10 sailors in all. He then escaped to Angola where he murdered a child and six boat rowers. 

After coming back to the US, he said that he killed two small boys in Massachusettes. Then, in New York, he murdered a man who tried to rob him in Kingston, New York. He threw the body into the river. 


Panzram was finally arrested in Baltimore for a burglary. During his interrogation, he claimed he killed three young boys earlier that month; one in Salem, one in Connecticut, and one in Philadelphia. 

He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary. On his first day, he warned the warden, "I'll kill the first man that bothers me." The warden placed Panzram to a solitary job in the prison laundry room. 

Later that year, he beat the prison laundry foreman to death with an iron bar. After that last murder, he received his death sentence. While on death row, he befriended an officer who gave him money to buy cigarettes. The officer even provided him with writing materials which he used to write a summary of his crimes. 

Panzram wrote, "In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than 1,000 male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least bit sorry."

He was hanged on September 5th, 1930. The executioner asked if he had any last words, and Panzram said, "Yes, hurry it up, you Hoosier b*stard! I could kill a dozen men while you're screwing around!"

Panzram's bizarre life spurred tons of movies and books. His legacy still lives on.

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