Things To Learn From
The Life and Crimes of Alferd Packer

by Wild Willie Westwood, with the sources listed below


Alferd Packer and The Packer Party Timeline

Culled from these sites

The Ballad of Alferd Packer
The Other Side Of The Coin
The Story of Alferd E. Packer
The Alfred Packer Collection
So What If It Isn't True? (The Denver Post, July 26, 1989)
Alferd Packer
Alferd Packer, Cañon City Public Library
Alferd Packer, the Colorado Cannibal
A Packer Chronology
Hinsdale County
SAGUACHE CHRONICLE - FRIDAY, MARCH 23, 1883
SOLVING THE AMERICAN WEST'S GREATEST MYSTERY: Was Alferd Packer Innocent of Murder?
Polly Pry

Time Place Event
November 21, 1842 Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Alfred Packer was born, a nephew of Asa Packer. He grew up to be a shoemaker and a printer's apprentice.
April 22, 1862 Minnesota Enlisted in the 16th U.S. Infantry of Minnesota
December 29, 1862 Ft. Ontario, NY Mustered out of service in Ft. Ontario, New York due to epilepsy
April 25, 1863 Iowa Enlisted in the 8th Regiment, Iowa Cavalry
June 10, 1863 Cleveland, TN Mustered out of service in Cleveland, Tennessee due to epilepsy
1863 - 1873 Westward He worked as a hunter, a trapper, a guide, a ranch hand, and as a miner in Colorado. He went from job to job, not staying in one place for any substantial period of time. His traveling between jobs led him to Salt Lake City, Utah. He tried many different jobs in Salt Lake City, and also spent some time in jail there for counterfeiting money. When Packer was released he heard of a group of prospectors planning to travel to Breckenridge, Colorado.
November 8, 1873 Bingham Mine, Utah Packer met up with the miners some 25 miles out of Salt Lake City and volunteered to be their guide, claiming he knew the Colorado Territory well.
December 6, 1873, four weeks later Provo, Utah Packer and his men arrived at Provo for provisions. Nutter joins the party here, having heard of rich gold strike in Colorado Territory. Records indicate that Packer left Provo with 20 men. The 21 men:
Alferd Packer (Utah)
George "California" Noon
Shannon Bell
Israel Swan
Frank Miller
James Humphrey
Preston Nutter
Jim Montgomery
Dr. Cooper
O.D. Lutzenheiser
George Driver (three of the men below were also members of Lutzenheiser's party)
Dave Shelton
Jean "Frenchy" Cabazon (Frenchy Jean, apparently - "Frenchy" Swan in the Saguache Chronicle)
Joe McIntosh (Saguache)
George Tracy
Bob McGrew
John McIntyre
Mike Burk
“Old Sport” of Saguache
"the genial Joe who left Saguache only a few months ago"
Bill Miller
When it became evident that Packer was lost, and thus, a fraud of a guide, Nutter took over as guide until the party reached Chief Ouray's camp.
January 21, 1874 Camp of Ute Chief Ouray Delta, CO - The men arrive and meet Chief Ouray. Records indicate that all 21 men from the Provo party arrive at the camp, but the party splits up. Chief Ouray tells the men not to brave the winter, for the snows are deep and the climate harsh.
January 28, 1874 Camp of Ute Chief Ouray According to Packer's 1897 confession, Lutzenheiser and four other men leave for Los Pinos Indian Agency just one week after arriving at camp, against Ouray's advice. Nutter is not with them, as he stayed at camp until spring. Cabazon's location is not known.
February 2, 1874 Camp of Ute Chief Ouray Lutzenheiser and his men are taken to a cattle camp by a cattle rancher who found them after hearing a gunshot and finding Lutzenheiser's tracks. That cattle camp is now Gunnison. According to Packer's 1897 confession, Lutzenheiser and his men head out once more for Los Pinos Indian Agency once they get well. This is the same story Tracy mentioned in 1883.
February 9, 1874 Camp of Ute Chief Ouray Packer and his men take off, against Ouray's advice. Nutter and Montgomery, who were out trapping, would be the last to see five of these these men alive.
San Juan Mountains The miners get stuck there, engulfed in a furious blizzard. Swan is the first to die, according to the 1874 confession. The miners, finding themselves short of food, decide to eat Swan. Miller cuts up the body and cooks the various parts. The miners eat.
Slumgullion Pass According to the 1883 confession, Swan asks Packer to see if he can see Breckenridge from the top of the pass. Packer tells the other miners not to eat each other. When he returns the next day, four of the five other miners are dead. Bell arrives and suggests that he and Packer live off the corpses and make their way to civilization. Packer doesn't feel like playing along, as he didn't kill any of the miners, but Bell threatens him. They face off. Packer stabs Bell with a knife as Bell charges, then shoots him. Eventually Bell dies.
April 2, 1874 Camp of Ute Chief Ouray Preston Nutter and Dr. Cooper leave Ouray's camp, bound for Los Pinos. Packer leaves his own camp at about this time.
April 16, 1874 Los Pinos Indian Agency Packer arrives at Los Pinos Indian Agency. So do Nutter and Cooper. So does Herman Lueders, an Indian agent at Los Pinos, with a herd of government cattle. Lueders was at a dinner table with Packer and Chief Ouray when the Indian with "a wink" asked Lueders, in Spanish, if he thought Packer was enjoying "this living as well as he did eating his comrades?" Packer tells the agents that once the storm hit, he set up camp while the others went forward in search of food. He said they never returned, and he subsequently headed out for Los Pinos. This, then, is the unofficial coonfession. As such, if they left him and didn't return, he couldn't have taken any of their money. Yet, he had money enough for whiskey and other delights when he got to Saguache, so that confession had to go.
Late April, 1874 Saguache Packer, Cooper, and Nutter go to Saguache, where Packer spends much time and money at Larry Dolan's saloon. The sheriff there begins to suspect Packer of murder, as the rest of his party hasn't arrived. Apparently, several members of the original Provo party were already in Saguache and expressed doubts about Packer's story. In his 1897 confession, Packer says Lutzenheiser and his men were already here while Packer was still at Los Pinos. At the saloon, Packer's story changes with every sip of Dolan's liquor. Packer stopped at Otto Mears' general store to buy a horse. He tendered currency that Mears thought looked suspicious, Mears asked Packer to replace the first money with other bills. Packer brought out a Wells Fargo draft. One of the missing companions had been carrying just such drafts (these days, they're called "checks"). Mears reported this to the authorites, who confront Packer about this - be arrested or help them search for the bodies. Packer opts to lead them to the bodies. Sheriff Wall sets up a search party the next morning to find the bodies - or the survivors. Packer goes with Wall, Nutter, Lueders, and a few others. Lueders says Packer attacked him with a knife, but he delivers Packer to Wall. Lueders gets cramps and is under the impression that Packer tried to poison him. Gen. Adams later tells Lueders that the reason Packer delayed the expedition as long as he could is that he would have killed them once they saw for themselves the conditions of the bodies.
Turns out Lueders was an employee of Otto Mears. Mears was a personal friend of Chief Ouray, and Lueders worked at Los Pinos, where he ate with Chief Ouray and Packer.
May 8, 1874 Los Pinos Indian Agent Gen. Charles Adams took Packer back to Los Pinos for questioning about the matter, and extracted the first of Packer's two conflicting confessions. The order of death, as the first confession has it, is
Swan - February 19, exposure and starvation
Humphrey - February 23-24, exposure and starvation. In the 1897 confession, this is about the time Packer says they began eating their moccasins. He does not mention Swan's or Humphrey's death.
Miller - killed accidentally (by whom or what is not mentioned, although a butcher knife was found in his thigh, near the crotch)
"California" Noon - Bell shot "California" with Swan's gun
Bell - Packer kills him in self-defense.
In his 1874 confession, Packer said he stayed at his camp until April 2, at which time the weather had become mild enough for him to leave and walk to Los Pinos. This took him two weeks. He also mentioned that Humphrey had $133, but didn't mention what amounts he or the others had.
In his 1883 confession, Packer said Bell had $50 dollars on him, and the other four had $20 total among them. He himself had $20, so he entered Los Pinos with $90 total. Packer also said he did stay behind to help the search party look for the bodies, but couldn't bring himself to take it to his camp. Some people apparently told him not to go to the camp, so the discovery of the bodies had to wait another three months. Gen. Adams has a different view. See above entry. This could mean that Packer was trying to lose them deliberately. Packer was taken back to Saguache and jailed outside of town. Saguache did not yet have a jail.
One can see how Packer became a big spender, what with $90-$133 on his person and a fit, if not fat, appearance. He was in the mood for whiskey, not food, when he arrived in Saguache. One account, found in the Saguache Chronicle has him carrying several thousand dollars, all of it Swan's, as it was his money the other five miners split up after he was killed. Thus, it was Swan who was carying the Wells Fargo drafts.
August 8, 1874 Saguache Packer escaped from custody on this day. In his 1883 confession, Packer said he was handed a key made out of a pen knife blade, which means someone helped him escape. Make that at least three people: Otto Mears (yes, the one who turned Packer in), John Lawrence, and Larry Dolan. He said "Dolan was interested in getting me away... Dolan sent a man who said `Larry Dolan sent you a bottle of whiskey and wishes you good luck' and told me of the grub right there. And I left and went into the room. I took off my shackles and went to sleep..." They seem to have done this because Packer's presence was hurting property values and business in Saguache, so they decided to cut their losses by setting him loose.
Packer used that penknife blade to unlock his irons and sleep (August 7). He got up the next morning, dressed himself, and left. Wall was out of town at the time. Packer followed the Arkansas River to John Gill's ranch 18 miles below Pueblo and worked there the rest of the summer. He rented Gilbert's ranch further downstream, raised a crop of corn, and sold that to Gill. He then went to Arizona. then back to Utah, Colorado, and on to Wyoming.
Gen. Adams and his search party find the corpses -- one headless -- and describe them to reporters from the Del Norte San Juan Prospector, who print up the story two weeks later, on August 22.
August 20, 1874 Slumgullion Pass John Randolph, sketch artist for Harper's Weekly, is taken to the five bodies near present Lake City. He notifies Hinsdale County Coroner W.F. Ryan, who convenes a coroner's jury and an inquest. The bodies are identified as members of Packer's party. Because the bodies were all together and the men had apparently been killed in their sleep, the coroner decides that Packer had murdered the men, and the motive may have been robbery rather than hunger. The fact that all the bodies were found together may have colored Packer's recollection in the 1883 and 1897 confessions, as he was later to testify that Bell killed the other four miners and was eating one of them when Packer returned.
1874 - March 11, 1883 Wyoming Sometime later, Packer ended up in Wyoming and stayed there for eight years. It was at this time that he used John Shwartze as his name. Jean "Frenchy" Cabazon, one of the original prospecting party found him quite by accident in Fetterman City, Wyoming, near Cheyenne, in March, 1883. Cabazon, who had met Packer from Utah, recognized his laugh, when they were both at a saloon unaware of each other. He alerted the Wyoming authorites, who contacted the Colorado authorities, who came for Packer and brought him back to Colorado.
March 13, 1883 Saguache George Tracy tells the SAGUACHE CHRONICLE that two parties left the Ouray camp: Packer's and another party. The other party followed the Gunnison River while Packer and his party trudged through the mountains. Packer would mention this in his 1897 confession. Tracy also mentions the Winchester rifle which Packer mentions in 1897 - but the Winchester was meant for game.
March 16, 1883 Denver, CO. Packer was taken to Denver, Colorado, and questioned again about the incident. In his second confession, again under Gen. Charles Adams, Packer stuck with his original claim of self-defense, but admitted to stealing the rifle and $70 in cash from the dead men. Packer was charged with the murder of Israel Swan and was taken to Lake City for trial. In this confession, Packer said that about two weeks after leaving camp (around Frebruary 20, 1874), Bell went mad and killed the other four miners while Packer went up to the top of the hill (at Swan's request) to find out whether he could see something from the mountians. Packer returned that evening to find Bell eating a chunk of Miller's thigh. This makes sense, as the butcher knife was found on Miller's thigh (although it is now missing from the collection). Packer killed Bell and lived off the flesh of the five men for six weeks.
April 6-13, 1883 Lake City Packer awaits trial. The trial begins on April 6 and lasts a week. He's tried and convicted of murdering all five men, then sentenced to be hanged. The verdict is appealed.
May 16, 1883 Lake City Because a lynching is feared, Packer is moved from Lake City to Gunnison jail as his appeal proceeds. His execution is stayed.
May 19, 1883 Lake City Hanging Day. Packer was to be hanged between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on this day, but nothing happens.
October 30, 1885 Gunnison Packer appealed his conviction to the Colorado Supreme Court where the verdict was reversed - the events happened before Colorado statehood, and the conviction wasn't retroactive. The "Grandfather" clause.
August 2-5, 1886 Gunnison He was tried again and this time found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 40 years in the state penitentiary - eight years for each miner in his party, consecutively. He is considered a model prisoner. He makes and sells watch fobs to visitors, and has a plot of ground where he cultivates flowers. Attorneys take interest in his case and apply for retrials and pardons.
August 7, 1897 Cañon City penitentiary This third confession, this time to the Rocky Mountain News, is a fleshed-out elaboration of the second confession. Here, he mentions Lutzenheiser as the leader of the trapper party, not Cabazon, and that his party had five members. This and the six members of the Packer party account for 11 of the 21 members of the Provo party. Packer said his gun was a Winchester, but he must have forgotten what it actually was. There's evidence to show that it was actually an 1862 Colt Police Model pistol, with five .38 caliber chambers. Three of them still had bullets in them. A Civil War veteran that visited the crime scene stated that Shannon Bell had been shot twice and the other victims were killed with a hatchet. Packer had always maintained that he shot only Bell, no matter what other details of the crime changed over time.
January 3, 1900 Cañon City penitentiary Polly Pry (born Leonel Campbell and later becoming Mrs. Leonel Ross Anthony O’Bryan), sob sister for the Denver Post, having read of Alferd Packer, visits him a few times at the penitentiary and starts a writing campaign asking for Packer's parole, having observed that many murderers and rapists had been pardoned and wondered why a cannibal should not be pardoned. She, then, believed Packer was innocent of the manslaughter charges.
January 7, 1901 Cañon City penitentiary Packer is releaed in 1901, thanks to the efforts of Polly Pry. Governor Charles S. Thomas granted Packer's parole request due to medical conditions - hydrocele (water sacs under the testicles) and Brights' Disease (inflammation of the structures in the kidney that produce urine: the glomeruli and the nephrons). Bonfils and Tammen, owners of The Denver Post and the Sells-Floto Circus, wanted Packer as a sideshow freak, so Thomas allowed Packer to move to Denver and stay there for at least six years and nine months. He went to Denver and spent three months with Ms. Pry, becoming a bodyguard for Bonfils and Tammen for the duration. The Governor didn't want to pardon Packer, because he found Packer full of vengeance in his foul-mouthed language, both in corrrespondence to his relatives (who never got the mail) and in talks with the Governor, and that was reason enough to keep him in prison. But for all that vindictive talk, Packer took no action when he was finally released.
Spring, 1901 Sheridan He didn't like city life, prefering instead to live in the hills, so he left Denver. He builds a small adobe house in the Denver suburb of Sheridan, where he raises chickens and rabbits. He prospects in Deer Creek Canyon, about 20 miles west of Sheridan, and visits Littleton every week for supplies. He gets by on a $25-a-month veteran's pension.
1905 Phillipsburg, CO. Packer moves here after some time at Critchell and lives quietly. Kids gravitate to him, and he becomes a storyteller to them. He becomes a model citizen.
April 23, 1907 Littleton, CO. Died of natural causes - "Senility - trouble & worry" - after being in the care of a Mrs. Van Alstine (or Alderstein).
Conclusions:

Swan was the first to die and to be eaten.
Humphrey and Miller die and are eaten, but who died first is uncertain. Miller, having fought hard to stay alive, gets the worst treatment. He ends up farthest away from the fire, headless.
Bell either killed Noon only, Noon and Miller, or the other four men. In the 1874 confesstion, Packer said Bell and Noon told him Miller was killed "accidentally." Noon, being 16 at the time, was probably sworn to secrecy by Bell on penalty of death, which would mean that Bell killed Miller and Noon.
Bell was cooking part of the inside of Miller's leg when Packer returned from looking out.
Packer killed Bell with a gun, in self-defense. Bell and Noon apparently remain uneaten, as their bodies were still in blankets when discovered during the summer.
Two bullets are missing from a gun that has been linked to Packer. Records indicate Bell was shot twice, confirming Packer's claim that he shot Bell.
Packer often said he could do things he actually couldn't, or said he would do things he ended up not doing. He said he knew the Colorado Territory and could lead the miners to Breckenridge, but he got them lost instead, showing he didn't know much about the Territory. He volunteered to lead a search party to the bodies, but ended up stalling. In prison he vowed all sorts of revenge on his family and on others, but when he was released he didn't make good on any of it. The irony is that he ended up being convicted of something he probably didn't do, given his penchant for boasting. He was all bark and no bite, but he was convicted of the bite.

Preston Nutter

PRESTON NUTTER MADE UTAH THE HOME OF HIS CATTLE KINGDOM
PRESTON NUTTER

In 1873 Nutter heard news of rich gold strike in Colorado Territory's San Juan Mountain District. He headed out and met 19 other prospectors in Provo, Utah. Winter was approaching and the group would have turned back except for the urging of one Alfred Packer. He convinced the group that he was familiar with the area. Shortly outside Provo it was evident that Packer was lost (this is shown in the movie), and also a "whining fraud." Preston served as scout until they reached the Ute Indian Reservation. Chief Ouray advised the group to stay with him along lower elevations and predicted dire consequences. Packer convinced some that Ouray only wanted their money and five of the group left with him. Nutter decided to spend the winter with Chief Ouray of the Utes and his wife Chipeta while Packer and some of the other men continued on into the ominous snow-packed mountains. The winter proved to be one of the worst on record. Preston arrived at the Los Pinos Agency, Colorado Territory, in the spring at about the time Packer arrived alone, looking fat, well, and contented. Packer had lots of money, and his story about the fate of his companions did not sound right. Nutter, suspecting that something was amiss, soon discovered that Packer had eaten his five companions while trapped in a bad snowstorm. He forced Packer to return to the San Juans to look for the other men and Packer led him on a "wild goose chase." When the snow had melted in the summer, the remains of the five men were found.
In 1883 Packer was brought to trial at Lake City, Colorado, and Nutter was the prosecution's chief witness during the trial of "Alfred Packer the Man-Eater" whose notoriety spread throughout the West. He went on to form the Grand Cattle Company with his partners Ed Sands and Tom Wheeler and became a Utah cattle king.

A Comparison of the Confessions

the parts that appear in the movie will be in blue

Confessions Los Pinos Confesson 1873 Confession 1873 Confession as recoreded by Herman Lauter (or Lueders) 1883 Confession 1897 Confession
Dates April 1874 5/8/1874 3/23/1883 3/16/1883 8/7/1897
The Order of Death When not more than fifty miles for Los Pinos, he said, he had been taken ill, and while in that condition he had been deserted by his companions, who left him no provisions but gave him a Winchester rifle with which to kill game if he discovered any. Old man Swan died first and was eaten by the other five persons, about ten days out from camp. One day Packer went out to gather dry wood for the fire, and when he returned he found that in his absence the first life had been sacrificed. Lying upon the ground, dead, was the oldest man in the party, Mr. Swan. His skull was fractured and his death had been instantaneous. Around him were congregated the four men remaining, besides himself, who were engaged in cutting up the body. Large pieces and strips were cut from the calves of the legs, thighs and breasts. Swan’s money amounting to several thousand dollars, was divided among the men. When I came back to camp after being gone nearly all day I found the redheaded man [Bell] who acted crazy in the morning sitting near the fire roasting a piece of meat which he had cut out of the leg of the german butcher [Miller] the latters body was lying the furthest off from the fire down the stream, his skull was crushed in with the hatchet. The other three men were lying near the fire, they were cut in the forehead with the hatchet. Some had two, some three, cuts. I came within a rod of the fire. As I neared the camp on my return I was confronted by a terrible sight. As I came near I saw no one but Bell. I spoke to him, and then, with the look of a terrible maniac, his eyes glaring and burning fearfully, he grabbed a hatchet and started for me, whereupon I raised my Winchester and shot him. The report from the rifle did not arouse the camp, so I hastened to the campfire and found my comrades dead. In looking about I saw a piece of flesh on the fire, which Bell had cut from Miller's leg. I took this flesh from the fire and lay it to one side, after which I covered the bodies of my dead comrades. I remained here with them during the night.
Four or five days afterwards Humphrey died and was also eaten. He had about one hundred and thirty three dollars. I found the pocket-book and took the money. In two days the party was again out of food, and it was decided by three of the survivors that Miller, a young man, well built and stout, should be the next to go. Packer confessed that Miller was chosen because of the great amount of soft flesh he carried. Miller was killed with a hatchet while stooping for a stick of wood. His body was dissected and the best parts eaten.
Some time afterwards while I was carrying wood, the Butcher [Miller] was killed, as the other two told me, accidentally, and he was eaten. Humphreys and
Bell shot "California" [Noon] with Swan's gun. Noon followed in the same way, leaving only Packer and Bell. After living several days on roots, they reached a huge lake, which was skirted on one side by an extensive grove of hemlock trees.
I killed Bell. I shot him, covered up the remains, and took a large piece along. One day while camped in this grove, Bell arose, seized his rifle and exclaimed, “I can’t stand this any longer, one of us must make food for the other right here.” He clubbed his gun and endeavored to strike Packer. The latter always on the alert, parried the blow and the rifle was broken by striking a tree. Packer then struck Bell with a hatchet and killed him. He was alone, and had no fear of death except by starvation. Cutting up the body of his companion, he ate as much as he could then packed away considerable of the flesh about him for future use. When the man saw me, he got up with his hatchet towards me. When I shot him sideways through the belly, he fell on his face and the hatchet fell forwards. I grabbed it and hit him in the top of the head.
He regained his health and started for Los Pinos where he arrived after several days of weary tramping, his only food being roots and a rabbits which he had killed. I then traveled fourteen days into the "Agency." Bell wanted to kill me. He struck at me with his rifle, struck a tree and broke his gun. He resumed his tramp, the sole survivor of a party of six, and in time from the top of a hill, he espied the buildings of the Los Pinos agency close at hand. He threw away the human flesh he still had and arrived at the agency safe and sound. He acknowledged that he had grown quite fond of human flesh, and coolly said that he found the breasts of men the sweetest meat he had ever tasted. I camped that night at the fire and sat up all night. The next morning I followed my tracks up the mountain but I could not make it. The snow was too deep and I came back. I went sideways into a piece of pine timber, set up two sticks, and covered it with pine boughs and then made a shelter about three feet high. This was my camp until I came out. I went back to the fire, covered the men up and fetched to the camp the piece of meat that was near the fire. I made a new fire near my camp and cooked the piece of meat and ate it. I tried to get away every day but could not, so I lived off the flesh of these men, the bigger part of the 60 days I was out. Then the snow began to have a crust and I started out up the creek to a place where a big slide seemed to come down the mountian of yellowish clay.
The redheaded men had a 50 Dollar Bill in his pocket all the others together had only 20 Dollars. I had 20 Do llars myself. If there was any more money in the outfit, I did not know of it and it remains there. At the last camp just before I reached the Agency I ate my last pieces of meat This meat I cooked at the camp before I started out and put it in to a bag and carried the bag with me, I could not eat but a little at a time.
When I went out with the party to search for the bodies, we came to the mountains overlooking the stream but I did not want to take them further. I did not want to go back to the camp myself. If I had stood in that vicinity longer I would have taken you [Mr. Adams] right to the place, but they advised me to go away [refusing to tell the names of the parties].
In the morning I moved about 1,000 yards below, where there was a grove of pine trees. Eventually the weather began to moderate and I wandered around seeking rose buds for food, when all of a sudden I was confronted by the Los Pinos agency.
For three weeks I was taken care of at the agency. I have learned that Lutzenheiser and his party had crossed the mountains into Siwatch (Saguache). The remaining of the twenty-one men now at the end of this three weeks (10 men) came through with a band of Indians. They questioned me as to where my comrades were. I replied that I had killed Bell and that evidently he had killed the others. In a day or two we left the agency and started with the teams to go over to Siwatch. We remained in Siwatch until General Adams, the Indian agent, returned from Denver. I then explained to the general all I knew about my dead comrades, and an expedition was fitted out to return and bury them. We had not gone far on this journey before we were compelled to turn back to the agency, owing to the great depth of snow and the crust which was upon it.
In this account, Swan's, Humphrey's, and Miller's bodies are eaten. Nothing is said of Noon's body. Lueder's account of the examination of the bodies verifies that Swan, Humphrey, and Miller were eaten, meaning Noon and Bell were not eaten, and thus were the two bodies still under blankets. Miller, being young and strong, would have put up the greatest struggle, which is also in Lueder's account. Swan, being the oldest, would indeed die first. Noon, being 16 years old at the time, would easily be under Bell's sway, so he went along with Bell, who said Miller died by accident. In this account, Swan was killed when Packer was away gathering wood. Miller's body is eaten after lots are cast and he was killed. Humphrey is killed by lot and eaten as well.
Packer says he took a gun with him after Swan asked him to look out over the mountains to see what he could see, but doesn't specify whose gun it is. Default assumption: he took his own gun.
This account says that Miller's body was the farthest away, so it is the headless one. Thus, Swan's and Humphrey's bodies were the two bodies without blankets and certain pieces of flesh, including breasts, thighs, and calves. Here, Packer mentions the Winchester once again, the one he said his mates gave him for small game while they went off, the one the Lutzenheiser party said beloged to another man. It's been proved, though, that it was a Colt pistol that killed Bell, not a Winchester rifle.
What evidence showed up to make him change his story?
The incident of Packer’s arrival at the agency, and his story, was related to Lutzenheiser's men, five in all, who had left Ouray before Packer did. All of them discredited it. They were of the opinion that had he been sick, the men would not have deserted him. They at once suspected foul play and communicated their suspicions to General Adams. They said that the Winchester carried by Packer belonged to another man (Swan), and a pipe belonging to another of the party was also identified.
General Adams at once mounted an officer and sent him to Saguache for Packer. The officer returned with his man and brought the information that Packer had spent several hundred dollars during his six weeks’ residence in Saguache, besides buying horses, etc. This information was communicated to the five men and convinced them that Packer was a murderer and robber, for it was known to them that he had but a small amount of money when he left Salt Lake. Packer told identically the same story to the men which he had told upon his first entry into the agency.
A council of five men and officers of the agency, to settle the matter, was called. While it was in progress proceedings were interrupted by the entry of two very much excited Indians. The scene that followed was highly dramatic, sensational, and decidedly sickening as to detail.
The Indians bore in their hands strips of flesh, which they termed “WHITE MAN’S MEAT.” They had been out hunting, they said, and had found the flesh not far from the agency, on a hill. It was in good condition, the white skin, which firmly adhered, convincing all present that it had been cut from a human being, apparently from the thigh. The strips were quite long and thin.
When Packer caught sight of the flesh his face became livid, his breath came short, quick, and suddenly all strength left him, and with a low moan he sank to the floor. He weakened, and after begging for mercy promised to make a full confession. Liquors were applied, and he was revived sufficiently to speak fluently.
The bodies were finally found in June by a photographer named Reynolds from Peoria, Illinois, in the employ of the Harper Brothers, while sketching along Lake San Cristobal near the present town of Lake City. He came across the remains of the five men lying in a grove of hemlocks. The spot was the same described by Packer as the place where Bell met his death.
An examination showed that all five had been assassinated.
Four of the bodies were laying together in a row, and the fifth was laying away a short distance with the head completely severed.
Miller was badly mutilated. There were traces of a struggle about Miller, showing that the man had fought hard for his life. Miller was clubbed to death, the instrument used being a rifle, which was found nearby, broken in two.
The four men lying together were undoubtedly asleep at the time.
Blankets were found wrapped about two of them. Two men-those with blankets around them--were untouched.
The breasts of two other men were cut away, leaving the ribs bare. The blankets were removed for the other two for obvious reasons.
All had been killed for their money. Valuable articles and money which the men were known to possess had disappeared. An inspection of the bodies showed that Packer had actually been guilty of the revolting crime. CANNIBALISM.
About one hundred yards from where the bodies were found, and just outside the grove, a brush cabin was discovered. A beaten path led from the cabin to the spot where the bodies were found. In the cabin were found blankets and other things belonging to the dead men.
Holes made by rifle balls were found in the heads of Swan and Humphreys (the two exposed), and Bell and Noon (the two under the blankets).
A contrasting report from a Civil War veteran who visited the crime scene stated that Shannon Bell had been shot twice and the other victims were killed with a hatchet. This means Bell didn't shoot anyone, either, but used the hatchet to kill them. Packer says as much in the 1883 confession.