More than 130 years after Alferd Packer ate his five companions to survive a Colorado winter, a museum curator is making a case that the notorious cannibal was innocent of murder. Years of research on a 142-year-old pistol and detective work at the site where Packer was stranded seem to support at least part of his story: that he only killed to defend himself from a member of their party who had slain his fellow prospectors and was making a meal of human flesh, reports the Associated Press.
“Curators normally don’t get an opportunity like this. We usually are in the museum piecing things together,” said David Bailey, who has been pursuing the case while working at the Museum of Western Colorado in Grand Junction. Packer was convicted of murdering the five men — all prospectors he was guiding — but always insisted he had killed only one of them, Shannon Bell. Packer said he shot Bell after Bell killed the four others in the party and then attacked him with a hatchet.