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A most heinous crime in Gila County – 1910

In September 1910, the Arizona Daily Star reported a murder committed by two ex-cavalry men at an abandoned stage station in Globe. They called it one of the most heinous crimes in the history of Gila County. The two managed to escape the scene, but they could not hide for long before being discovered by Sheriff J.H. Rimrock Thompson and his posse.

The story goes like this:

Albert Hillpot and his comrade Fred Kibbe were resting at the abandoned stage station in Oak Creek when they were surprised by assassins William Stewart and James Steele, former members of the E company, Fifth Cavalry.

Judging from the pipe of spilled tobacco in the dining room, it appeared Kibbe was cozying up for a smoke when he was slain with a single shot to his left eye.

Hillpot was resting on a cot when he was shot in the left shoulder with a 30-40 Winchester by the other murderer. The evidence suggested he put up a fight, meeting the shooters in the dining room, where he was clubbed with the Winchester, its stock splintered over his head and eventually broken off.

After Steel and Stewart looted Hillpot’s pockets, they shot him three more times to ensure he was dead. Then they took the Hillpot and Kibbe’s horses and rode away from the scene.

Sheriff J.H. Rimrock Thompson and his posse of expert manhunters and a half dozen “Indian trailers” pursued the murderers for days. The writers at the Star nonetheless believed the two would be found, stating:

“At the sheriff’s office it is believed that Steele and Stewart will not be able to elude the posses that are searching for them. While the country is wild and unpeopled, it is so well known by the sheriff and members of the posse that they will be able to take the slayers before they can get out of the territory.”

Steele and Stewart were indeed caught, as anticipated. They had been hiding near Adamana and watched Thompson’s posse ride by in the afternoon. Thinking the sheriff had left town, the two fugitives headed for the station that night for something to eat and drink.

Low and behold, the sheriff spotted them while hiding behind a water tank, and he and his posse were waiting in the depot when Steele and Stewart approached.

As the report goes, “There was not the slightest hint of resistance, as the surprise was complete and the two men hardly capable of resisting… There is no chance of the men escaping, and even if there was, their own physical conditions would prevent this. When captured, both men were utterly exhausted, footsore from their long tramp and almost starved. Even after a fair nights rest the prisoners are not in any condition to travel.”

The two were transported to the Navajo county jail, where they were shackled hand and foot.

You can read more from the original excerpts by visiting the Arizona Daily Star:

About Jenn Walker

Jenn Walker began writing for Globe Miami Times in 2012 and has been a contributor ever since. Her work has also appeared in Submerge Magazine, Sacramento Press, Sacramento News & Review and California Health Report. She currently teaches Honors English at High Desert Middle School and mentors Globe School District’s robotics team.

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