Friday, August 17, 2007

August 16, 1928:

Carl Panzram Arrested

On August 16, 1928, Washington, DC, police arrested a 37-year-old man for burglary. As it turned out, they got more than they had bargained for -- he was in fact a murderer, besides being a thief and rapist. "His name was Carl Panzram, one of Americas most ferocious, unrepentant serial killers," wrote Mark Gado in Court TV's Crime Library. "Embittered by years of torture, beatings and sexual abuse both in and out of prison, Panzram evolved into a man who was meanness personified..."

And, oddly enough, someone who had burglarized the home of former president William Howard Taft. "In the summer of 1920, Panzram spent a great deal of time in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. He preferred places with activity and lots of people. More people meant more targets, more money and more victims. It also meant the cops were busy; maybe too busy to bother with the likes of him. He went out at night, cruising the city streets looking for an easy mark. If he didn't mug an unsuspecting drunk or rape a young boy, he would look for a house to burglarize.

"In August, he found a house located at 113 Whitney Avenue that looked 'fat' and ready for the taking. It was an old three-story colonial, the home of an aristocrat, he hoped. He broke in through a window and began to ransack the bedrooms. Inside a spacious den, Panzram found a large amount of jewelry, bonds and a .45 caliber automatic handgun. The name on the bonds was William H. Taft, the same man who he thought sentenced him to three years at Leavenworth in 1907. At that time, Taft had been the secretary of war. In 1920, he was the former president of the United States and current professor of law at Yale University in New Haven. After stealing everything he could carry, Panzram escaped through the same window and hit the streets carrying a large bag of loot."

The complete story starts here. Considering what a bad hombre Panzram was, Taft was lucky he wasn't home at time.

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