Tales from the Morgue: A brutal and wanton murder

2013-07-31T09:45:00Z 2013-08-07T12:14:05Z Tales from the Morgue: A brutal and wanton murderJohanna Eubank Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
July 31, 2013 9:45 am  • 

A bloody murder at an abandoned stage station in Globe, Ariz., led to the formation of a sheriffs' posse and a six-day chase for the presumed murderers.

The two victims were respected members of the community, so the accused would be in danger of being lynched if and when they were caught.

From the Arizona Daily Star, Sept. 20, 1910:

 

BRUTAL AND WANTON MURDER BY EX-SOLDIERS
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Scene of Gory Crime in Lonesome stage House Beggars Description—Hillpot Loses in Unarmed Fight for Life.
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GLOBE, Sept. 19.—Appalling details of the atrocious murder in the lonely stage station at Oak Creek, brought in by the coroner and his party, show the crime to be one of the most heinous in the history of Gila county. The murder was undoubtedly committed for the sake of the money, valuables and outfit of the two innocent victims, and was a cowardly, simultaneous attack upon two unsuspecting men. The room in which the deed was done was a veritable charnal house, bearing mute witness to the terrific struggle caused by the heroic fight of Hillpot, after his comrade had been killed by a single shot. The men were killed by William Stewart and James Steele, according to verdict of the coroner's jury.

The house in which the killing took place is a seven room affair. There are for rooms across the front and three front doors. One end room had in it a cot and considerable bedding. Adjoining it was a room intended for a dinning room, furnished with a long table, several stools and a bedstead.

Judge Thomas' theory is that Hillpot was lying on the cot in the end room, the door of which was open. He believes Kibbe was seated at the dinning room, and from a pipe and spilled tobacco found on he floor was about to smoke,while on the bedstead, only three or four feet away, one of the assassins was seated.

According to Judge Thomas' opinion, almost simultaneously with the shot fired by the murderer on the bed, which entered Kibbe's left eye and killed him instantly,and another which evidently missed Kibbe just as he was falling. Hillpot was shot by a 30-40 Winchester by the other assassin, who was evidently standing just outside of the door of the room in which his vicim was reclining, the bullet entering Hillpot's left shoulder and passing out through the armpit. Hill[pot is believed to have rushed into the dinning room where he was met with a clubbed Winchester in the hands of one of his murderers , and then began his desperate and unarmed fight for life against two villainous and heavily armed men.

So game was his fight that the stock of the Winchester was splintered over his head and finally completely broken off , after which the barrel was used, as evidenced by the deep holes in Hillpot's head, caused by the hammer of the gun. The floor and even the walls and ceiling of the room are so bespattered with blood as to give the place the appearance of a shambles.

When he was finally overcome from the blows that rained down upon him and fell to the floor, the bastards then began rifling through his pockets and found that there was still life in his body, and holding a rifle to his chest shot him twice more and he lay helpless. There still was an existing slight flicker of life, he was then shot in the left side, the bullet passing through his heart and causing death.

Taking the riding horses of their victims, the two left the scene and rode so hard that at Black River, which they reached at 2 o' clock in the morning, they're stolen mounts were ridden out. There they stole two fresh horses from the Tuttle corral and pressed on.

Steel and Stewart were both members of E company, Fifth cavalry, which was for a time stationed at Fort Apache, but was later stationed in Yellowstone Park. Stewart was discharged about eight months ago, and returning here, he was backed by Mr. Tuttle in raising chickens and hogs on shares at the abandoned stage station. According to Tuttle, Stewart was a quiet and unassuming young fellow about 22 years old. About two months ago, Steel appeared and, at Stewart's request, Tuttle permitted him to live at the station, help Stewart and share in the profits. When seen by Tuttle less than a week ago, Stewart said that he was getting along well , and that both he and Steel were contented. It was the belief of Mr. Tuttle that Steel was of a vicious nature and that Stewart was dominated by him.

Posses are out in all directions, and it is hoped that Steel and Stewart will be captured in spite of their twenty-four hours' start.

The murder happened several days before the first report ran in the Star. News traveled at a slower pace once upon a time.

More information trickled out the following day while the posse sought the accused men.

From the Star, June 21, 1910:

 

SHERIFF'S POSSE IN PURSUIT OF TWO MURDERERS
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Excitement Intense Over Double Tragedy—If Taken Alive Murderers Will Probably Be Given Short End of Rope.
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GLOBE, Sept. 20—Not since Sheriff Thompson and his posse left the scene of the brutal murder of Fred Kibbe and Albert Philpot, in pursuit of their slayers, Steele and Stewart, has a word been heard from them. Almost sixty hours have elapsed since the sheriff , accompanied by a few expert manhunters and a half a dozen indian trailers, had taken the trail of the murderers, and because of the fact that no message has been received from them the officers here believe that a capture of the slayers is certain.

Throughout the city the excitement in all quarters over the terrible tragedy has been intense and yet it is the sole topic of conversation on the streets and in many homes where the murdered men were known and liked. The high respect and esteem in which the young men were held throughout the city has greatly intensified the interest in the crime and all day yesterday and well into the night a steady stream of people passed through Jones Morgue, almost a thousand viewing the remains of the slain men.

The funeral of young Kibbe was held this afternoon at 3 o'clock, services being conducted at his residence on South First street, and the little home was far too small to contain the large throng which sought admission. The remains will be taken to Los Angeles tomorrow morning accompanied by the parents of the murdered man, the grief-stricken widow remaining in Globe. It is the desire of the widow that the body be cremated and the ashes be interred in that city. Rev. H.P. Cory conducted the services.

No disposition has been made of the remains of Hillpot pending final word from his mother, who wishes the body shipped to her home at Lambertville, N.J.

At the Sheriffs 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. Not the slightest hint has been received as to the general direction taken by the murderers, but it is now thought that they did not proceed straight north, as in that event word would have been received before this time from Holbrook.

In most quarters it is believed that the men will not be taken alive and word to this effect has been sent out to officers all over the country, who have been notified of the murder and sent descriptions of the murderers.

In an effort to obtain more information regarding the slayers, a message was sent to the commanding officer at the post at Yellowstone Park, the present headquarters of the Fifth cavalry. A reply was received yesterday from Major Benson, commanding, that William R. Stewart had been discharged in November, 1909, but that no man of the name of Steele had been discharged there. Steele is believed to be an assumed name, as both men are known to have served at Fort Apache before troop E, in which both served, was ordered to Yellowstone Park. A detailed description of Steele was sent to Major Henson.

The only word received from any member of the posse was a telegram from District Attorney Shute to his wife yesterday from Fort Apache. He stated that it would be necessary to keep the automobile there for repairs, and that his stay would be indefinite. The auto is that of M.L. Naquin, who drove the posse to the scene of the murder and then went on to the fort. He was accompanied by Tom Brewer, the chauffeur. The message was evidently sent by the district attorney to assure his wife of his safety and contained no information regarding the man hunt.

M. E. Conboy, who with his wife and George Zimmerman were camped a short distance from the Tuttle house, returned home yesterday, Mrs. Conboy preceding him Saturday. Mr. Conboy became well aquatinted with Steele, one of the slayers, during his stay in the mountains, Steele visiting the Conboy camp almost every evening during the two weeks stay.

Steele, according to Conboy, was a sociable sort of fellow and he had accommodated the campers in many ways. He was a crack revolver shot, Mr. Conboy having many times seen him kill birds at a distance of 30 and 40 feet. The campers saw little of Stewart who did not visit their camp. Conboy saw both of the ex-calvary-men conversing just before dusk outside of the house on the evening of the tragedy.

More tomorrow.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com

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