Thu, April 09

1899 ATROCIOUS MURDERS: Chasing a Killer.

Soon after after "Mack" Rodgers, "Clint" Wingfield and Captain John Boyd were shot, "Harvey Hance was dispatched to ride to Prescott on horseback to notify the Sheriff and he arrived there early the next morning."

"As soon as Sheriff Johnny Munds received word about the double murder, he and Deputy John Drew started for Camp Verde on horseback. ... Johnny Munds rode Charlie Hooker's little grey horse, that was sturdy, dependable and very fast and he reached Camp Verde about ten o'clock Monday morning and John Drew arrived about two hours later. ... After Johnny received a description of the murderer, he picked up the ejected six-shooter shells, then he rode down to the place where the killer had his horse tied and examined and measured the killer's boot tracks and also the horse's tracks and he noticed that the horse was unshod. He then organized a posse of some available men in the area, who had six-shooters and rifles and the sheriff furnished plenty of ammunition for the guns from the store."

"They had no trouble following the fugitives trail to Mud Tank Divide, because he stayed on the main road, running his horse most of the way to Mud Tank Hill, then he got off his exhausted horse and led him up the hill to the divide. There must have been a herd of range horses at the divide and probably the murderer mounted his horse and rode in amongst them and scattered them in all directions, from the looks of the tracks they could see. The ground was hard and partly covered with flat rocks, so unshod horse tracks were hard to distinguish in some places and it was impossible to determine which way the fugitive went from there."

While Indian trackers tried to "determine the murderer's trail out of the scrambled tracks," Sheriff Munds and the rest of the posse rode "up to Long Valley on the Mogollon Mountains" to look for traces of the fugitive. At Long Valley they met Ed Wingfield and Frank Wingfield (brother of Clint), who had "searched Long Valley thoroughly along with the ranger and ranchers. They did not find any sign of the fugitive, so Johnny Munds asked them to join the posse and they did. They ate and the Shetiff bought what little provisions were available at the store.

Returning to Mud Tank Divide where Indians were waiting, "they all searched again for the trail of the murderer, but had no luck. They all started down the old Mail Trail, as that was not as well traveled as the main trail to Pine and Payson." They met a man on horseback, who was told that "they were searching for a murderer and there was no reason why he should show such resentment, unless he was guilty of trying to protect the fugitive." Deputy Joe Drew took the man to Prescott, where he was questioned and released.

"The Sheriff and posse ... went down to Hackberry Basin, near the east Verde River, "where they spent the night. They searched for tracks down the East Verde and spent the night at Pete LaTourette's ranch. The next day they countinued searching "and inquired at all of the ranches ... on into Payson, where they all had a good feed they were very much in need of and so did their horses. They stayed all day and all night at Payson and inquired about the fugitive. Sheriff Munds received some information from the storekeeper ... about a man who "claimed his name was Charlie Bishop." When last seen, Bishop "was leading his other three horses and one of them had a pack saddle."

The next morning Sheriff Munds "and the posse rode up under the rim of the Mogollon Mountains and made their camp, then they rode up toward the top of the mountain and very near the top, they found Bishop's deserted camp, except for three hobbled horses, and they noticed that a large flat rock had been placed over the ashes of his camp fire. Sheriff Munds detailed two other men of the posse to watch the hobbled horses constantly, in case Bishop returned for them ... and two other men to watch the main trail leading off of the mountain, which was near East Clear Creek Canyon, called Tunnel Hill. The Wingfields and Less Hart said they would ride down the old Apache Trail to see if they could find any traces of Bishop."

(see: History of Valuable Pioneers of the State of Arizona; 1978; by Sally Munds Williams; pages 61-64; July 2-6.)

Based on information from the storekeeper, "Sheriff Munds says that on June 27th, six days before the murder of Wingfield and Rodgers, at Camp Verde, Bishop went into the town of Payson and purchased a gunnysack of condensed milk, many pounds of oatmeal and other light groceries and left for the Clear creek country. These goods of Bishop 'cached' at various places along Clear creek, principally in the trees, and the sheriff states that many of these caches have been located by him."

(see: Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; August 2, 1899; page 2.)

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