Famous Last Words
John Owens (alias Bill Booth)
March 5, 1886
“I wish you’d hurry up. I want to get to Hell in time for dinner.”
Booth was a wanted outlaw, sought by lawmen for the murders of his wife and child in Oklahoma, a cowboy in Colorado, and a trapper in Wyoming among others, and it was the murder of the Wyoming man which brought him to the gallows.
A year before his execution, Booth killed Jacob Schemerer during a robbery. Schemerer had invited Booth into his home and fed him dinner. At some point, Booth turned on his host, killing him with a hatchet and wrapping a cord tightly around the man’s neck. He then hid the body under a pile of rocks and stole $5.
Sheriff Frank Canton apprehended Booth who confessed to Schemerer’s murder during the long stagecoach ride from Montana to Wyoming, though he claimed to have killed his victim in self defense. Booth was convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. As he was escorted from his cell to the gallows, he said his final words, though he declined a final statement immediately preceding his execution.
Franscell, Ron. Crime Buff’s Guide to the Outlaw Rockies. Morris Book Publishing: 2011
Wilson, R. Michael. Legal Executions in the Western Territories, 1847-1911. McFarland & Company, Inc.: 2010
The Weekly Yellowstone Journal and Live Stock Reporter [Miles City, Montana]. March 20, 1886
“Hung at Last.” The Black Hills Daily Times [Deadwood, South Dakota]. March 7, 1886
“A Murderer Hanged in Wyoming.” Rapid City Journal. March 6, 1886