“In my lifetime I have murdered 21 human beings, I have committed thousands of burglaries, robberies, larcenies, arsons and, last but not least, I have committed sodomy on more than a thousand male human beings. For all these things I am not in the least sorry.”

Thus did Carl Panzram, often regarded as the most dangerous criminal ever produced in America, summarise his life of crime.

Trouble for Panzram, the son of Prussian immigrants, began when he was eight years old. He was a violent boy and, sent to a reform school, was brutally beaten by the authorities in return, which prompted even further violent outrages.

Devoting his life to destructive criminal acts inside and outside of prison, he went to Africa, where he hired six local men for a crocodile-hunt and sodomised and killed them all before feeding them to the crocodiles.

In 1928 he got 20 years to life for burglaries and murders. He was sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary, where he vowed he would kill the first man who “bothered” him. The following year he used an iron bar to smash the head of Robert Warnke in the prison laundry. He was sentenced to hang.

When he heard that an organisation was campaigning for his reprieve he wrote to the principals: “I wish the whole world had a single throat, and I had my hands around it…the only way to reform people is to kill them.”

He was executed on Friday, September 5th, 1930. He ran up the steps to the gallows, dragging the hangman with him, yelling: “Let’s get going! What are you standing around for?” On the platform he was asked if he wanted to say anything. He grabbed the rope, fixed it around his neck, and snarled, “Hurry up, you bastard! I could hang a dozen men while you’re fooling around!”