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Lamm unveils bust of convicted cannibal

By JOHN J. SANKO

DENVER -- Gov. Richard Lamm said he had 'little appetite' for the job and better things to do than 'chew the fat' with a bunch of cannibal lovers, but nevertheless took part in ceremonies honoring convicted man-eater Alferd Packer.

After listening to a ballad extolling the woes of the deceased mountain pioneer who University of Colorado students have dubbed the 'original Pac Man,' Lamm unveiled a bust in Packer's honor in the Capitol rotunda Tuesday.

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Lamm last year refused to grant an unconditional pardon to Packer, convicted of killing and eating five fellow gold prospectors who he was guiding in the Colorado Rockies when they became trapped by winter snows in 1874.

'I realize that several of you have a bone to pick with me because of my refusal to grant Alferd Packer an unconditional pardon last year,' Lamm told onlookers.

'You claim that the evidence indicates that Mr. Packer killed but one man, and that one only in self-defense. Unfortunately, the proof was in the pudding and Alferd ate that, too.'

But Lamm said he didn't mind taking part in the pun-filled statehouse ceremonies this year, noting that 1982, after all, is an election year.

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'I must admit to you that I have little appetite to appear before you today,' he said. 'As I told my staff, I have better things to do than come over here to chew the fat with a pack of cannibal lovers.

'But being an election year, they convinced me that every little bit counts and, in order to protect my flanks, I appear in front of you today.'

Packer, a Pennsylvania native, never denied eating the flesh of his fellow men in order to stay alive. However, he denied the murders, saying he killed one of his companions after the man went berserk, killed the other men and attacked him.

News accounts at the time said Packer showed up 'fat and healthy' at the Los Pinos Indian Agency near Saguache April 16, 1874, after his long winter ordeal in the mountains. He originally was sentenced to die but the sentence was overturned.

Packer, a harness maker, spent 18 years in jail before being paroled in 1901. He died in Littleton, a suburb of Denver, on April 24, 1907, still professing his innocence and pleading for a pardon.

The Packer bust, prepared by Boulder sculptor Tom Miller, had been on display at the University of Colorado where the student grill was named in his honor. The sculpture is on loan at the Capitol, but will be returned to Boulder when students return to classes in September.

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