Carl Panzram (1891-1930)

Serial Killer


Charles "Carl" Panzram (1891-1930), serial killer, executed by hanging at Leavenworth, Kansas

This page written and copyright 2008 by Will Johnson, Professional Genealogist. If you'd like to comment on this page you can email me at if you want it private, or you can add a comment at the bottom if you want it public.

Charles Panzram was born 28 Jun 1891 in Minnesota, the son of Johann Gottlieb "John" Panzram and his wife Matilda Elizabeth "Lizzie", who had both immigrated from Prussia, probably around 1870-1874.

Johann's first wife Bertha Barz had a daughter from a previous marriage, and together they had three more children before her death abt Dec 1877 in Eyota, Olmstead County, Minnesota.  Four months later, Johann married on 18 Apr 1878 to Matilda Elizabeth Bolduan a widow with two or three kids of her own, from her previous marriage to a Mr Price.  One of her children, may have been born out-of-wedlock or else by an even earlier marriage of Matilda's.  When Charles was born in 1891, he was the youngest of this large household of up to fifteen children, but Johann and Lizzie divorced in 1898.  Neither one remarried.

As to Carl's exact birthplace, although some secondary sources state the town of "Warren", I can find no reliable source that tells us.  His parents in 1880 were living in Eyota Township, Olmsted County, Minnesota.  In 1884, his father as "John Panzram" bought 160 acres in Marshall County.  A site reader informs me that this property or some property of theirs, was sold in foreclosure in the 1890s "on the courthouse steps in Crookston".  His parents divorced in 1898, and by 1900 the family is living in East Grand Forks, Polk County, Minnesota.

Charles got into trouble and was confined in a youth reformatory for some time.  Later he states that he traveled around the country committing various crimes.  He was arrested after burglarizing the home of former U.S. President Taft and while in custody admitted killing two boys.  He was put into prison in Washington, DC and while there, a guard Henry Lesser, befriended him and convinced him to write his life story.  After searching for a publisher for some time, the book was finally published in 1970.  The papers on which it was partly based were donated in 1980 to the University of San Diego.

Charles "Carl" Panzram was hanged at Leavenworth Prison 5 Sep 1930.

It should be remembered that the autobiography of an admitted killer might be padded out with fictional crimes as well.  His autobiography is filled with either real or imagined crimes.  We may never know if all the things he said he did, were actual real events.

Secondary Sources

Further Reading