Leaving the Law Behind An outlaw’s escape embarrassed a famous lawman.

sheriff commodore perry owens true west
Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens.

January 1888. Apache County (AZ) Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens arrested Ike
Clanton Gang member Kid Swingle and was transporting him by train from Texas to

Just outside the town of Toyah, Owens left the prisoner alone and went to wash
his face. Swingle took the opportunity to pick his handcuffs and jump off the train,
which was going about 30 miles per hour.

Owens claimed that Swingle had some inside help—but that’s unlikely. The lawman just
got careless and was embarrassed by losing the prisoner.

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Mark Boardman

Mark Boardman is the features editor for True West Magazine as well as the editor of The Tombstone Epitaph. He also serves as pastor for Poplar Grove United Methodist Church in Indiana.