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The Online Encyclopedia of Wyoming History

Outlaws & Crime

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Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | 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.
Encyclopedia | For nine days in March 1939, the nation was spellbound by news of a skilled Park County woodsman leading lawmen on a lengthy manhunt. The “huge, shaggy, young Earl Durand,” as Time magazine described him, finally died of his own hand after a failed bank robbery and shootout in downtown Powell, Wyo.
Encyclopedia | In 1909, Percy Metz, 23 years old and recently elected Big Horn County attorney, helped prosecute five men for their murderous roles in the Spring Creek Raid. The case made his reputation; he became a district judge at 29 and spent a long and successful life in the law.
Encyclopedia | Patriotic feelings soared in Wyoming during the years of the Great War, bringing generosity toward the people of war-torn Europe and the soldiers who fought. Pacifists, however, and people of German heritage often suffered the scorn of fervent fellow citizens.
Encyclopedia | From Union Army soldier to teamster to Guernsey, Wyo., town father, John “Posey” Ryan earned a reputation as an honorable man. But his life’s path took a wrong turn when, believing they had stolen his livelihood, he publicly shot his wife and her daughter to death.
Encyclopedia | In May 1950, Louise Spinner Graf served as foreman of a jury in Green River, Wyo.—practically the first Wyoming jury to include women since 1871. The jury convicted Otto Long of second-degree murder. Afterward, Long’s attorney blamed the outcome on “those damn women.” Women have served successfully on Wyoming juries ever since.

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