Digging Billy the Kid

Illustration by Bob Boze Bell

Several years ago, a debate over whether New Mexico’s Fort Sumner is actually the final resting place of the state’s most famous outlaw spilled over to Arizona. In Prescott, private investigators dug up one John Miller; some claimed he was the real Billy the Kid who had somehow escaped death at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett in 1881. The forensic results of the Miller dig are inconclusive because the courts stopped the digging up of Billy’s mother in Silver City, New Mexico, for DNA comparison.

Will a postpartum pardon change the outlaw’s legacy? As author Mark Lee Gardner puts it, “No matter what happens, Billy the Kid’s place in history is secure. It’s one
sentence he’ll never escape.”

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