Graves · New Mexico

The death of Billy the Kid

July 14, 1881
Fort Sumner, New Mexico territory
Henry McCarty, alias William H. Bonney, alias Billy the Kid, is shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garret while attempting to evade capture

Billy was an American outlaw and gunfighter who allegedly had killed 8 men before his own death. In 1878, Billy and others in a group comprised of cowboys and ranch owners who called themselves Regulators, killed three men during the Lincoln County War, a feud between several factions in the New Mexico territory over supplies and cattle. One of the men killed was Sheriff William Brady, whose murder Billy was convicted of and sentenced to hang for. When Billy escaped, a bounty was placed on his head payable upon his capture, dead or alive.

Sheriff Garret tracked Billy to Fort Sumner. How exactly the shooting of Billy happened is disputed: sources differ as to whether Garret ambushed Billy or if Billy entered into a darkened room Garret was occupying without knowing the lawman was there. Regardless, Garret shot Billy above the heart, killing him.

Billy was 21 when killed, unless you believe any of the several individuals who later claimed to be The Kid. He is laid to rest next to two of his close friends and fellow Regulators, both of whom were also killed by Sheriff Garret. Their shared headstone has been chipped at by souvenir hunters and has been stolen at least twice (some sources claim a third time as well, but there’s little proof to support this claim) as well as vandalized, leading to a cage being erected surrounding the grave.

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