Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Carl Panzram: Too Evil to Live, Part II

New London Murder

After Panzram jumped bail out of Yonkers, he returned to the familiar landscape of southern Connecticut. He knew the shore area well and hoped to get his hands on another boat. If the past was any guide, he could expect to steal a boat in a few days and set sail for South America. He drifted into the city of New Haven, where he quickly robbed several men in the street to get money for food.

A view of the New London shore off Beach Road (photo by author)
A view of the New London shore off
Beach Road (photo by author)

He traveled east out of New Haven toward New London. On the night of August 9, 1923, as he searched the area for a mugging victim, Panzram saw a young boy begging for money. He pulled a knife on the terrified youth and dragged him into the nearby woods. Panzram sodomized the boy as he put the blade to his throat.

"This boy's name I don't know but he was a Jew and he told me that his home was in Brooklyn, New York," Panzram said, "where his uncle was a policeman at that time." He held the youth prisoner while he taunted him with the knife. As the child pleaded and sobbed for mercy, he sodomized the boy again. Panzram later wrote that of all his murders, he enjoyed this one the most. Then he took the belt from the victim's pants and strangled him with his powerful arms.

"I committed a little more sodomy on him also," he later wrote. "On the right hand side of that road I left the body of the murdered boy with his own belt still tied around his neck." He then tossed the body into the bushes and walked back out onto the street.

It was still early evening and people were about. Speeding cars and trucks passed him by, but no one took notice. The boy, who has never been conclusively identified, lay in the bushes undiscovered for two days. On August 11, a local resident walking to work noticed torn clothing lying in the grass just off the road. When he investigated, he found the corpse of the boy, already decomposing and partially destroyed by animals.

On October 6, 1928, Panzram confessed to this murder and wrote a letter to the chief of police of New London, Connecticut, in which he wrote, "If there is anything more that you want to know about this case that I can tell you, I will." At the bottom of this letter, Panzram apologized for lack of detail about some of his murders. "I have killed a number of people in different places and some of the facts escape my memory," he explained.

After the killing, Panzram caught a ride on a slow freight train headed for Manhattan. On the Lower East Side, where boat captains were recruiting men for their cargo ships, he hung around the dingy Bowery taverns looking for work. He managed to get a job as a bathroom steward on the U.S. Army Transport, U.S. Grant, which was leaving for China in one week. Before the ship even left the dock, Panzram got drunk on board and became involved in a brawl with other crewmembers. He was booted off the ship. He made his way up to Grand Central Station where he hopped a train to Connecticut. Because he was hungry and had no money, he decided to get off the train in the village of Larchmont, New York, to look for someone to rob.

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