How Did Billy the Kid Die?

On July 14, 1881, Western outlaw Billy the Kid died. On July 14, 1881, he went to his friend Pete Maxwell’s home in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, in search of a slice of beef for a late-night snack.

As the story goes, Billy – only 21, but already a murderer who escaped from prison and killed two guards in the process – made the mistake of entering a dark room, where the sheriff from Lincoln County Pat Garrett was interviewing Maxwell. Garrett and Billy were armed, but Garrett fired first, killing Billy.

It is at least the most accepted version of events. But over the years, some of the obscure details surrounding the death of Billy – whose real name was probably Henry McCarty, although he later assumed the pseudonym William Bonney – have proven to be fertile ground for alternative theories.

Some have claimed that Garrett shot the wrong man and that Billy escaped. To further complicate matters, at least two men emerged decades later, which some believed be Lunch box.

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The men who claimed to be Billy the Kid after his death

As Dale L. Walker details in his book Legends and Lies: Great Mysteries of the American West, a prospective Billy was John Miller, a farmer and horse trainer who lived in a small village in New Mexico near the Arizona border and died in 1937. (His few possessions would include a pistol with 21 notches on the handful, the same as the number of murders that some accounts attribute to Billy. The other, a resident of Hico, in Texas, named Ollie “Brushy Bill” Roberts, managed to obtain a meeting with the governor of New Mexico in 1950, in which he unsuccessfully asked for a pardon for The Murders of Billy died soon after.

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