It was because of Lucien Carr that Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs met and became friends. It was also because of Carr that Kerouac and Burroughs became material witnesses in a bizarre murder case.
In 1944, Allen Ginsberg met Lucien Carr at Columbia University. Carr was friends with Edie Parker, Jack Kerouac’s girlfriend at the time and it was by his suggestion that Ginsberg meet Kerouac. Carr, who grew up in St. Louis, also knew William S. Burroughs and this connection completed the formation of the famous Beat Trio.
But, along with the two rich kids from St. Louis came David Kammerer, Burroughs’ life-long friend and Carr’s former teacher turned stalker.
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Lucien Carr and David Kammerer
David Kammerer was a teacher in St. Louis and met Lucien Carr when leading a youth group Carr belonged to as a young boy. He immediately became infatuated with the boy and followed him across the country as Carr moved from city to city.
When Carr attended Columbia University, Kammerer moved to New York City. Even though Carr had a girlfriend, Celine, and showed no sexual interest in Kammerer, the older man continued with his obsessive behaviour. Carr finally reached his breaking point.
On August 13, 1944, Lucien Carr was drinking at the West End Bar with some friends. David Kammerer found the young man at the bar and the two continued to drink well into the early morning.
“The two then went to Riverside Park where Dave finally pushed too hard; he made a play for Lucien, who stabbed him with his Boy Scout knife, killing him. Lucien weighed down the body and rolled it into the Hudson River,” wrote Brenda Knight in Women of the Beat Generation.
In Ginsberg: A Biography, Barry Miles explained the confrontation, “Kammerer made drunken threats against Celine. He claimed he loved Lucien and couldn’t live without him. He would kill Lucien and himself if he couldn’t have him, and he insisted that they have sex. Lucien resisted and they began to struggle.”