Ike’s well-crafted tale spun a web of intrigue. According to Ike, the Earp’s were in cahoots with the Benson stage robbers, Crane, Head, Leonard and King. Because they knew too much, the Earp’s wanted them dead. Ike claimed Wyatt told him he’d “piped off” the money from the stage robbery to Doc Holliday and Bill Leonard.
It’s highly unlikely that Wyatt would make such a damaging statement to a known outlaw and cow thief. More important, the stage robbery failed so all money was accounted for. Ike also claimed the Earp’s wanted Frank McLaury and Ike out of the way because they also knew too much. Ike seemed to have forgotten that Wyatt had an excellent chance to shoot him point-blank at the gunfight. On many of the questions, Ike, too, had a convenient case of the “I don’t remember.”
Ike Clanton not only wanted vengeance for the killing of his brother and the McLaurys, but he also desperately needed a plausible story to allow him back into the good graces of the gang. His self-righteous testimony was laden with errors but has been the sourceused by several writers who sought to debunk the reputation of the Earp brothers. There were only four stage robberies during the period in question and in each there is overwhelming evidence to prove the Earp’s could not have been involved. Also, Wells Fargo had undercover operatives working in Tombstone; among them was Fred Dodge. These agents cooperated with the Earp’s in hunting down the outlaws. It’s
highly unlikely they would have been working with the Earp’s had there been the slightest suspicion of unlawful conduct. Tom Fitch, the attorney for the Earp’s, and Holliday, had a field day shooting holes in Ike’s testimony. Ike had presented a tale so contradictory that he actually helped the Earp’s defense. Fitch would later say, “The witnesses for the prosecution were the best witnesses for the