A scandalous Beat murder in Riverside Park

In 1944, Lucien Carr was a 19-year-old sophomore at Columbia University, the nucleus of a group of literary-minded undergrads who in the 1950s would be known as the Beats.

Among them were Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac (with Carr, at Columbia), and William S. Burroughs—not a student, but part of the crowd. Carr and Burroughs both hailed from prominent St. Louis families.

Carr was smart and handsome, which made him popular. But it also attracted a hanger-on, a 30-something man named David Kammerer who Burroughs knew from St. Louis.

He followed Carr for years and reportedly hit on him constantly. Carr wasn’t gay, but the stalker apparently was obsessed.

On the night of August 13, 1944, Carr and Kerouac went out drinking at Beat favorite bar the West End, on Broadway and 114th Street.

Kerouac left, and as Carr’s story goes, he went for a walk in nearby Riverside Park. Kammerer reportedly caught up to him and began assaulting him.

Carr pulled out a boy scout knife and stabbed Kammerer, killing him. He tied up his arms and legs, filled his pockets with rocks, and tossed him into the Hudson.

Carr went to the DA’s office and turned himself in. The ensuing trial got huge media play, thanks to the Columbia student angle, rich families, and scandalous homosexual advances.

Carr ended up with two years for manslaughter. Once released, he got a newspaper job, working for UPI his entire career. (He’s the guy who supplied Kerouac with roll of teletype paper, on which Kerouac wrote the first draft of On the Road.) He died, out of the spotlight, in 2005.

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6 Responses to “A scandalous Beat murder in Riverside Park”

  1. Paula Says:

    And his son Caleb Carr wrote The Alienist. Lucien was also involved with the real-life “Mardou Fox” from Kerouac’s The Subterraneans

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Right, thanks. Lucien made other fictionalized appearances in Kerouac’s work, I believe.

  3. A Scandalous Beat Murder In Harlem | Says:

    […] Source […]

  4. Nancy Says:

    He looks exactly like Jimmy Fallon.

  5. jcoifman Says:

    I had the chance to get to know the elder Mr. Carr late in his life, when he was the dean of our local dog run down in Washington and resident expert on an evolving neighborhood. Whatever transpired decades earlier, he was a lovely guy.

  6. Books we read as kids... - Page 21 Says:

    […] in Riverside Park one time as well. Did you hear that? A friend of theirs killed someone: A scandalous Beat murder in Riverside Park | Ephemeral New York Sign in or Register Now to […]

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