It began with a bowl of mush and ended in the murders of two men—one shot through the heart, the other dragged from the jail and lynched by a vicious mob of 300 to 400 people. Afterward, no one would testify to who was in the mob.
Outlaws & Crime
Browse Articles about Outlaws & Crime
|Averell, Jim, newspaper reporting of the lynching of||Tom Rea|
|Big Nose George||Lori Van Pelt|
|Buxton, John, Wyoming deputy game warden, killed in 1919||Dick Blust, Jr.|
|Cantrell, Ed||Paul Krza|
|Carlisle, Bill||Lori Van Pelt|
|Cassidy, Butch in Wyoming||Mac Blewer|
|Cattle Kate, newspaper reporting of the lynching of||Tom Rea|
|Cokeville Elementary School Bombing||Jessica Clark|
|Cokeville survivor oral history, Carol Petersen||Wyoming State Archives|
Outlaws & Crime
In 1904, a Laramie mob hanged African-American Joe Martin from a light pole near the courthouse, drawing a crowd of 1,000 people or more. Despite having called several witnesses, a grand jury brought no indictments. And lynchings of Black men became more and more frequent in Wyoming in the coming two decades.
In 1919, when 17-year-old Austrian-born Joseph Omeyc shot Game Warden John Buxton with a revolver near Rock Springs after the officer confiscated his rifle, the crime appeared related to poaching. But Wyoming at the time required non-citizens to license guns, Omeyc didn’t have a gun license—and anti-immigrant feeling was running high.
Rock Springs was bursting in 1977 when “60 Minutes” came to town to cover sleaze and alleged corruption. Soon after, top cop Ed Cantrell shot his undercover agent, Mike Rosa, in a police cruiser in front of the Silver Dollar Bar. The crime, the trial and its drama fixed boomtime Wyoming in the national imagination as a new kind of wild West.
Thirteen hours before killer “Tricky” Riggle’s death sentence was to be carried out, Gov. Milward Simpson commuted his punishment to life in prison. Simpson family members later maintained that this cost the governor his second term, but other controversial stands—on gambling and the route of the new I-90—probably hurt him more.
Guided by a pair of Kentuckians, four blindfolded investors rode south from Rawlins toward the Colorado border in June 1872. Their objective, they thought, was a vast, secret field of diamonds, but they lost nearly all the money they’d put in and the swindlers got away—for a time.
Just before sunset, on Oct. 31, 1903, a sheriff’s posse and a band of Oglala Sioux families from the Pine Ridge Reservation engaged in a brief, sharp gunfight near Lightning Creek, northeast of Douglas, Wyo. Seven people died, and a U.S. Senate investigation followed.