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Killer’s Guard: An Interview with Henry Lesser (1979)
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Killer’s Guard: An Interview with Henry Lesser (1979)

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Carl Panzram, a notorious serial killer and criminal during the 1920s, boasted of killing twenty-three people, committing thousands of robberies and larcenies, and sodomizing a thousand men and boys. In 1928, while in jail, Panzram met Henry Lesser, a sympathetic prison guard. After forming a friendship of sorts, Panzram gave Lesser his autobiography, penned over several months, which Lesser had encouraged him to write. Although Panzram was later transferred to Leavenworth Prison in Kansas, he continued to correspond with Lesser. In 1929, Panzram was sentenced to death for killing a prison guard, and on September 5, 1930 he was executed by hanging.

After Panzram’s death, Henry Lesser attempted to publish Panzram’s autobiography and dedicated his life to prison reform. He traveled around the country lecturing to audiences about America’s prison system and its treatment of prisoners, using Panzram’s story as an example of the system’s failures. In 1979, he spoke to Thomas Gitchoff’s criminal justice class at San Diego State University. Shortly thereafter he donated Panzram’s papers to SDSU’s Special Collections & University Archives.

Digitized Carl Panzram Papers @ San Diego State University

Carl Panzram @ Murderpedia

Carl Panzram @ Wikipedia