atm-logoWhat is the Halderman case?

Tom Todd
Scottsdale, Arizona

The Halderman brothers, Bill and Tom, were hanged for the killing of Constable Chester Ainsworth and Teddy Moore in Arizona’s remote Chiricahua Mountains of Cochise County on the morning of April 7, 1899. Some curious circumstances surrounded the affair.

Sometime in 1898, a feud developed between 18-year-old Moore and the Haldermans that involved two sisters, Rena and Mary Wilson. Over the next few months, Moore made threats to kill Bill.

On April 6, 1899, Cochise County rancher Buck Smith accused the Haldermans of stealing cattle. Constable Ainsworth of Pearce headed to the Halderman ranch in Turkey Creek Canyon to serve the warrant. He deputized Moore on the way.

The two found the boys at John Wilson’s ranch. At first, the Haldermans did not resist arrest, but they became suspicious that Moore was out to get them, so they armed themselves with rifles. The brothers claimed that once the lawmen saw them armed, the officers opened fire. The two lawmen were killed in the gunfight. Before he died, Moore claimed the Haldermans had fired first.

John, fearing how his neighbors might react, ordered his daughters, who had witnessed the gunfight, to back up Moore’s story. They did, and the Halderman brothers were tried and found guilty. After the boys were sentenced to die, the Wilson girls admitted they had lied. Even so, the Halderman brothers were hanged on November 16, 1900.


Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone.  If you have a question, write:

Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at

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