A GUIDE FOR THE INDEPENDENT TRAVELER IN THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST
"With the completion of the Interstate Freeway System, it became possible to travel all the way across the country, from coast-to-coast, and never see a thing...." Charles Kuralt
BILLY THE KID MAY GET PARDON FROM NM GOVERNOR
(This is an article from several months ago. This month's update is attached at the bottom.)
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson thinks it's a good idea to determine once and for all if Billy the Kid was actually killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett on July 14th, 1881 in Fort Sumner, NM. Some historians think someone else was killed and Garrett actually was complicit in letting the Kid escape.
Not only that, but Lincoln County, NM, Sheriff Tom Sullivan has decided to open an investigation into the Kid's bloody escape from the Lincoln County courthouse in April, 1881. That escape left two lawmen dead, deputies J.W. Bell and Bob Olinger. The killings were never "officially" investigated. Back then it all seemed pretty obvious, two guys dead and the Kid riding away with smoke trailing out the barrel of his pistol.
The hitch in the giddyup of the Billy the Kid legend was a guy named Brushy Bill Roberts of Hico, Texas. Dead now, he claimed he was actually Billy the Kid and had escaped that dark bedroom where Garrett was supposed to have killed him. He actually came to New Mexico one time and asked the Governor for a full pardon for the murders of the two deputies. The then Governor refused. Governor Richardson's predecessor, Gov Gary Johnson, also refused a pardon after objections from the family of one of the men Billy The Kid was convicted of killing.
This could be pretty tough to unravel after all these years. The Kid is alledgedly buried in Fort Sumner and you can wander out into a barren yard and see his grave behind a fenced-in enclosure. There is a story about the Kid's skull being stolen and MAYBE recovered.
As vague as all this seems, such prestigious organizations as Los Alamos and Sandia National laboratories will volunteer manpower, and Los Alamos will provide forensic experts and ground-penetrating radar, which can be used to locate human remains.
New Mexico Governor Richardson will appoint a defense counsel and prosecutor to present evidence in hearings planned for Fort Sumner, Lincoln, Mesilla and Silver City, all towns having a part in the Billy the Kid legend.
The probe could take a year. Sheriff Pat Garrett, who probably killed what was a homicidal, mean little jerk back then, doesn't ever get much attention.
Go here for an excellent article about The Kid.
Billy the Kid mania goes into full overdrive in Lincoln, New Mexico the first weekend of August during Lincoln County Days and the Billy The Kid Pageant.
Latest stuff, dated 12-03-03
The claims of Brushy Bill Roberts are being taken at least somewhat seriously by two county sheriffs in southern New Mexico. They want to dig up the remains of Billy The Kid's mother, and Billy's remains, and run DNA testing to settle once and for who Sheriff Garrett actually killed.
Billy's mother is buried in Silver City, NM, and the Mayor is opposed to the whole idea, calling it a "publicity stunt." He refused to allow the exhumation.
The Mayor of Fort Sumner, NM, where The Kid is buried, is not too pleased with the idea, either.
There is a court hearing in Silver City Dec 8th to determine if the Silver City Mayor has any legal standing to block the "investigation."
Even in the "Old West" it seems a little far fetched Sheriff Pat Garrett could cover up killing the wrong person, or pretending he killed The Kid. There were just too many people around deeply interested in what happened to the outlaw. But if he did kill the wrong person, that opens up another can of worms. Who did he kill and how did he get away with it?
Latest stuff dated 01-01-04
A judge in Silver City decided the Mayor does have standing and a hearing later will be held to determine if the remains of Billy The Kid's mother's remains can be exhumed.
Latest stuff dated 4-1-04
It seems that Sheriff Pat Garrett's widow, back in 1940, told a 9-year-old kid that Garrett conspired with Billy The Kid to fake his death. At least that's what a 72-year-old California man has sworn to in an affidavit. Problem is, Apolinaria Garrett died in 1936.
Garrett's widow, according to Homer Overton, said the Kid and Garrett were actually very close. They met to arrange the fake death so the kid could go to Mexico and not be bothered anymore.
The affidavit was filed in court by New Mexico's Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan. Sullivan is quoted in a newspaper article as saying the discrepancy doesn't bother him at all. Sullivan says the man may have gotten his dates wrong, or may have talked to one of Apolinaria's daughters.
Investigators are still pushing to dig up the Kid's mother's remains for DNA testing. Plus dig up the Kid's remain from his grave in Fort Sumner, NM.
The New Mexico state Medical Investigator has withdrawn support for the effort.
Other police types discount the "facts" of what happened the night Garrett shot the Kid. They say a "professional" law officer's training would never have allowed Garrett to walk into a dark bedroom without backup, etc. Several folks we've talked to, though, experts on western lore, thought it highly unlikely Garrett had much, if any, formal training and probably performed most of his duties with the bluster and bravado typical of males of that era.
Fort Sumner's Mayor has called the petitioners for exhumation "idiots."
A recent TV program showed a retired FBI forensic expert examining photos of Billy The Kid and Brushy Bill Roberts. The expert concluded there was not any chance Roberts was the Kid's.
There's gonna' be more...
As of 4-3-04
A state district judge declined to rule on a petition of the sheriffs of Lincoln and De Baca counties in New Mexico to exhume the body of Billy the Kid's mother. He said that "due to substantial uncertainty surrounding the recovery of the Kid's remains, only if the petitioners are successful in locating the Kid's burial site and recover his DNA, " would he again review their request.
Although Billy the Kid has long been believed to be buried in a cemetery on the outskirts of Fort Sumner, New Mexico, his body has never been exhumed.
As of 5-1-04
The Fort sumner, New Mexico Chamber of commerce has established a defense fund to prevent investigators from exhuming the Kid's body.
"We're going to do whatever we have to do to fight this," says Fort Sumner Mayor Raymond Lopez. But Fort Sumner is a very small place, a village, actually, and they don't have spare money to fight in court. So the chamber started the fund at the local branch of Citizens Bank of Clovis, NM. Donations have come in from New Mexico, Washington state and Texas.
"If we have to sell cupcakes on a corner in town, we'll do it," says Lopez
As of 6-23-04
Officials in Silver City, New Mexico, where Billy the Kid's mother is buried, have asked New Mexico Governo Bill Richardson to formally dissociate himself from the so-called "investigation" into the Kid's death.
Richardson, however, thinks all the publicity has spurred tourist interest.
In their letter to Richardson, Silver City claims the investigation will only cloud their claims to the Kid's story and, in fact, undermine tourism. The investigation "has the potential to destroy the existing legend and mystery and folklore surrounding Billy the Kid, badly damage the state's tousrism industry, severely impact the economy of the state, and damage the reputation of the Governor's office.
Silver City Councilor Steve May said it is "outrageous" that the Governor appointed an attorney to "speak for the dead."
According to a spokesman, the Governor will pretty much continue letting things run their course.
As of 8-8-04
Dr Henry Lee, who worked on the O.J. Simpson murder trial and the Jon Benet ramsey case, has volunteered his time and expertise to investigators in the Lincoln and DeBaca county sheriff's office. Lee calls the "investigation" and "interesting case of some historical importance." Lee was in Lincoln County, NM Sunday, August 1st.
Tests have been done on articles of furniture that were in the room where The Kid was killed. Lee has also used laser technology to determine the possible path of bullets fired by sherriff Pat Garrett.
Capitan, New Mexico Mayor Steve Sederwall says, that, "while the investigation is far from complete, what history says happened is not true. There bis more and more evidence that points to history not being portrayed correctly.
As of 10-31-05
The "three idiots," as the Mayor of Fort Sumner, NM called them, have decided to call it quits. No bodies will be dug up and Billy, if that's really him in the ground there in Fort Sumner, will continue to rest in peace.