“What’s the coolest crime site you’ve ever visited?”
It is crime buffs’ most common question. And after traversing thousands of miles from Pennsylvania to Southern California, and the northern Rockies to the Mexican border, I’ve visited historic crime-related spots most of us have only seen in books or movies. It’s every crime buff’s dream to stand precisely where Wyatt Earp, Bonnie & Clyde, Charles Manson, or Butch Cassidy once stood.
But some of the most fascinating places for me have been long-forgotten. They tell their own colorful stories about who we are. One example: In a tiny cemetery in the small town of Jefferson TX, I found two adjacent graves. A post protruded from each, and these posts were chained together. Romantic symbol for the ages? Nope. These were the patriarchs of two feuding outlaw families who killed each other in a barroom brawl in the 1800s. The long-suffering local sheriff was so annoyed by their constant quarrels that he ordered these badmen—who hated each other beyond reason—be buried side-by- side and chained together for eternity. Served them right, didn’t it?
These intriguing stories are everywhere. The new CRIME BUFF’S GUIDE™ TO THE OUTLAW SOUTHWEST is no different. Many of the people, places, and events it explores aren’t immediately familiar—in fact, most are surprisingly ordinary—but they tell fascinating stories about us and our darker history.
Here are three of the Outlaw Southwest’s most interesting places that you’ve probably never heard of:
1. NO NOOSE IS BAD NOOSE: Hanging was the State of Arizona’s method of execution from 1910 to 1931. Twenty-eight men and women were hanged … and today every deadly noose the Arizona hangman used—and grim pictures of the condemned inmate they throttled—is displayed publicly at the Pinal County Historical Museum in Florence AZ.
2. PEACE, LOVE & MURDER: When pot dealers harshed the mellow of the leader of a hippie commune near Placitas NM, he responded in a very un-groovy way: He murdered them. He and his wife vanished after that … until 18 years later when the fugitives were found murdered among the ashes of their gigantic Idaho pot farm. The case remains unsolved. Bummer.
3. ILLEGAL ALIEN SCHEME: In 1948, just a year after the mysterious Roswell UFO crash, another extraterrestrial craft plunged to Earth near the tiny town of Aztec NM. The secret government analysis of its otherworldly technology was soon leaked, and an entrepreneur was soon selling shares of a device that would make everybody rich. Problem was, it was all a multi-million- dollar hoax. But today, using Outlaw Southwest’s GPS coordinates for the alleged crash site, you can see satellite images of … a smiling alien face in the desert.