Posts Tagged ‘Lucien Carr’

A scandalous Beat murder in Riverside Park

April 17, 2011

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.