Historical Details

Gunn's Murderer, Bill McCoy

Courtesy of Library Archives, 11/29/2010

The Lusk Herald, July 1, 1887 

The McCoy case was called last Tuesday, and the defendant asked for a continuance on the ground of the absence of Ballou and Andrews, material witnesses. The facts to which these witnesses would testify if present were sworn to by McCoy. County Attorney Stoll opposed the motion on the ground that the two men referred to did not know anything about the case and because he had half a dozen witnesses present who would swear that the facts were not as stated in McCoy's affidavit. Case postponed one day to give county attorney time to prepare affidavits.

The Lusk Herald, July 8, 1887

- It is said a Texan deputy sheriff is in Cheyenne with a requisition for Dan Bogan, alias William McCoy, and that he has identified Bogan as the man he wants. It is understood the charge against McCoy is murder.

The McCoy Case

Failing in their efforts to have this case postponed on the ground of the absence of material witnesses, the attorneys for McCoy had him make an affidavit to the effect that the judge was prejudiced against him, and that he did not believe he could receive a fair and impartial trial before him. Of course everybody could see through this at once. McCoy sees that he has no hope on top of earth. He wants a change. The only change he will get is when he "shuffles off this mortal coil" at the end of a rope and makes a grand change to "kingdom come."

The Lusk Herald, July 15, 1887

Objection having been made to Judge Blair, Samuel T. Corn, of the Third Judicial District, has been officially called to preside in the trial of William M. McCoy alias Dan Bogan.

The Lusk Herald, August 5, 1887

Where the Fault Lies

As might be expected some of the Cheyenne papers which are politically opposed to Judge Maginnis, and Prosecuting Attorney Stoll, are inclined to blame them for the expense attached to the McCoy case and for not bringing it to trial.

The fact is that both these officials did try their best to bring that case to trial promptly. And we also wish to add that Sheriff Sharpless seconded them in their endeavor by sparing no trouble or expense in securing the witnesses. Two of the witnesses for the defense could not be found, and the defendant's attorneys made a motion for a continuance. Mr. Stoll then offered to admit the evidence which was claimed they would give, and the judge again set the case for trial. Then, at the lat moment the defendant filed an affidavit under section 3404 R. S. alleging that the judge was prejudice. The section is mandatory, and a new judge had to be called. The defendant's attorneys knew that Judge Blair was at Buffalo and that Judge Corn was at Lander, with no telegraphic communication to either place, and that this affidavit would cause delay - which was what they were endeavoring to secure. The fact that Judge Maginnis was known to have no prejudice cut no figure, owing to the form of the statute.

Both judges were finally interviewed by U. S. Attorney Campbell, and both refused to try the case at present. Judge Corn said he would hear the case in August or September, and it was finally continued until August 29th. Now, no one can blame attorneys for taking every advantage which the law allows their client and far be it from us to criticize Messrs. Lacy & Riner for working in the interest of McCoy. All we have to say is that this obnoxious section should be so amended as to compel the defendant to show his reasons for believing the presiding judge to be prejudiced, and thus close one avenue to technical quibbling. Everyone except the defendant and his attorneys wished the case to come to trial, and they took such means for the accomplishment of the ends as the law plainly allows them.

Any charges against our officers are simply made for political purposes, Judge Maginnis received the highest encomiums, for the fairness of his decisions, and the depth of knowledge which they showed him to possess, while Mr. Stoll has established a reputation as a vigorous, persistent and talented prosecutor, and we dislike to see them maligned for expensive delays which they were entirely powerless to prevent.

The Lusk Herald, August 12, 1887


McCoy, Watson, Cerns and Other Prisoners at Cheyenne Fail in a Bold Break for Freedom; Industrious Jail Birds vs. Vigilent Officers

From the Leader of Tuesday morning the following details of a bold attempt at jail breaking is taken: "What might have been a wholesale jail delivery was frustrated by the watchfulness of Sheriff Sharples and his deputies between the hours of 9 and 10 o'clock Sunday evening.

From conversations between the prisoners overheard by the officers it was learned that a break was planned for Sunday evening, but at just what hour was not ascertained. About 6 o'clock Deputy Ben Smalley locked up as usual and left, supposing that every prisoner was in his cell. Sheriff and Oscare Sharpless stationed themselves near the grating between the jail proper and the dining room of the residence in the rear. During a period of two or more hours they observed nothing unusual about the place and entered the jail to see that all was perfectly quiet.

Nearing the cell of McCoy, Sheriff Sharpless called to him, saying: "come here McCoy I have a letter for you." Phil Watson replied: "Bill has been sick to-day, Mr. Sharpless, and is asleep. I don't like to disturb him." The sheriff's suspicions were aroused, but he left the man lying on the floor, who was after-wards discovered to be Everett, charged with the mysterious murder of Rice, near Fort Laramie, and proceeded to the cell of Brennan, and Williams, thieves. "Light up your room Brennan," ordered the officer. "I have no matches," responded the sneak thief. "Just turn up the lamp, it is already lighted." After the order had been repeated the command was reluctantly complied with. Crouching behind a mattress in the north west corner of the cell was McCoy, the reputed ill man, who had changed his location for very obvious reasons.

The sheriff and his deputy then began examining the doors of the cells and discovered that the hinge bolts had been almost severed, and but a slight effort was required upon the part of a reasonably strong man to lay the doors upon the floor. This accomplished, it would be but a few minutes' work with the fine steel saw used, to cut a bar or two and escape from the corridor surrounding the cells. Escape would then be comparatively easy.

So soon as possible after the discovery of the work performed by the industrious jail-birds, Herman Hans, the blacksmith, commenced repairing the damage, and did not finish until last evening.

In addition to manufacturing new hinges for the doors, Mr. Hans ornamented the arms and legs of the following criminals with bracelets and bobbles:

McCoy, Texas desperado and murderer of Chas. Gunn at Lusk.

Richard Brennan, the sneak thief.

Carr, alias Jones, general thief and robber.

Phil. Watson, indicted as accessory with McCoy in the murder of Gunn.

Howard Hunter, horse thief, forger and general crook, who is suspected of complicity in the robbery of United States Paymaster Bash at Antelope Springs. The latter was taken to Laramie and confined in the United States penitentiary at that point by Marshal Carr yesterday.

Twelve of the most desperate characters ever confined in the Laramie county jail would have been liberated had not the plan been nipped in the bud by the vigilance of the watchful officers. They are: Phil Watson, Wm. McCoy, Brennan, Carr alias Jones, Hunter, Sterling Williams, Ketchum, Cerns, LeRoy, Smith and Lynch. The officers are confident that Trumble, who is under sentence of death, knew nothing of the contemplated desperate move.

The prisoners who occupied the cells which were to be opened were dressed and all ready to depart when their cherished hopes for liberty were wrecked. Watson shone resplendent in a new "boiled" shirt and a fine black suit, while the remainder were attired in holiday costumes.

A great portion of the sawing was done with the steel spring of a truss, which had been prepared for the purpose. Circumstances also indicate that watch springs had likewise been put to the best possible use conceivable by the occupants of the jail. Mr. Hans estimated that with the available tools the work necessary to the cutting of a bolt could be performed in five minutes.

Four villainous looking gags were found in one of the cells. They were four inches in length, and unlike any instrument of that character ever seen in this section. In their manufacture a broom handle, dirty towel and eight feel of window twine had been consumed. It was the intention of the prisoners to place a gag in the mouth of the victim, officer, guard or trusty, as the case might be, and tie it there.

The two new steel cells recently ordered by the county commissioners will probably arrive Thursday morning and be place in position at once, after which Carr, Watson, McCoy et al. will have an opportunity to experiment upon the properties and durability of that class of apartments."

The Lusk Herald, August 19, 1887

-It has been reported that the McCoy case was put off until Sept. 5th, but the Herald has official notice that court will convene on the 29th day of August, as understood by the witnesses when they gave bonds for appearance.

The Lusk Herald, August 26, 1887

- The new cage in the county jail is being put together by Mr. Selby, of the St. Louis company who constructed it. There are about fifty separate pieces. Five short time prisoners are employed in the construction. The hammering of the rivets causes as much noise as is heard in a boiler works. Five of the principals in the recent attempt to cut out of the jail were given new irons yesterday. These are riveted on. They are commencing to feel the consequence of their attempted outbreak. Jones, the burglar, broke down and cried when his leg irons were riveted. Phil Watson has grown perceptibly thin during the past two weeks. He looks haggard and despairing. The toughest men, McCoy and LeRoy do not appear to worry any. Trumble bears up well. He is accorded the best treatment possible under the existing circumstances. - Sun

The Lusk Herald, September 2, 1887

- After almost exhausting the special venire of 100, a jury was secured in the Dan Bogan, alias Bill McCoy case at 4:17 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, fully twenty-four hours earlier than had been anticipated.

The McCoy Case is Progressing With a Snail-Like Pace

The process incident to the securing of a jury in the Bogan, alias McCoy, case, were carried on rapidly in Judge Corn's court yesterday (Tuesday.) The entire time of the session held was devoted to this anxious and difficult undertaking. The learned and lenient, though dignified judicial from the second district occupied the bench. Messrs. Potter, Reel and Morgan acted as (?), while Attorneys Lacey and Riner for the defense, and Prosecutor Stool faced the jury. Inside the railing were other court officials, the defendant himself, a sprinkling of attorneys, occasionally a reporter, a few witnesses and favored spectators. In the auditorium every set was occupied, either by the curious, prospective jurors, or members of the Lusk contingent.

The substance of the days' business may be stated to the effect that in the earnest efforts to secure a jury the regular panel and a venire of sixty names was exhausted, and the county clerk and probate judge instructed to prepare a special venire containing 100 names, and present the list at 9 o'clock this morning.

It has often been asserted, perhaps without authority, that trial by jury is a farce, a burlesque and a parody upon justice. Be that as it may, the task of securing a jury for the trial of a notorious criminal is a tremendous and difficult one and entails labor, process, questioning and examinations that must of necessity be conducted with a great deal of care. It goes without saying that great caution is being exercised in the selection of twelve unbiased, unprejudiced, non opinionated, and at the same time intelligent, educated, thinking and representative citizens.

The leading features of the McCoy case have been discussed in almost every household in Laramie county. There are nearly 2,000 mean in the subdivision of the territory eligible to jury duty. It is safe to assert that the majority of them have at least talked of the last Lusk tragedy. This could not be averted. It was a public matter and bound to be treated as such. The fame, or notoriety of the case has rendered the task of securing a competent jury an extremely difficult one.

The stereotyped questions propounded by the lawyers elicited the anticipated replies. Every individual who occupied the box yesterday had heard of the case, either in public places or through the columns of the press. Quite a number had conversed with witnesses for the prosecution and thus formed opinions; others were violently opposed to capital punishment, while a few firmly believe the prisoner to be guilty and could not give to him the presumption of innocence until testimony seduced should alter this attitude toward the accused.

Several queer specimens were candidates for a long siege in the jury box. One of these had no scruples against capital punishment, but did not believe in hanging. Another said that he would prefer not to be a factor in the death of a man, but firmly believed in the biblical "eye for an eye," etc., and, on the whole, was not of the opinion that capital punishment was exactly right. Many had both formed and expressed sentiments concerning the case, while others were so anxious to be excused that they were at a loss just how to answer the questions. The ten men who occupied the box last night are no more jurymen that the 100 whom the sheriff and his deputies summoned last night. In short, the work of securing a jury has scarcely been commenced.

McCoy was decidedly nervous yesterday. He sat still scarcely an instant, alternately gazing at the attorneys, the judge, occupants of the jury box and spectators. The prisoner was visibly irritated and anxious, continually twirling his mustache or moving his fingers and hands. - Leader

The Lusk Herald, September 9, 1887


As reported last week, a jury was secured in the McCoy case on Wednesday afternoon. Evening sessions were held, and the hearing of testimony continued until Saturday at 6 p.m.

There were about 30 witnesses - mostly for the prosecution - and they were nearly all subjected to a severe cross examination. The facts in regard to the shooting were testified to substantially as reported in the HERALD at the time of the tragedy.

McCoy was kept on the stand for about five hours, during more than three of which he was answering the rigid cross questions of the talented prosecuting attorney. James Waters was subjected to a long and close examination by the defense.

On Saturday evening at 8:30 Prosecuting Attorney Stool commenced his opening address, and spoke pointedly and with much force for 35 minutes.

Concerning his address, the Leader says: "His effort, though brief, was nevertheless brilliant and always eloquent. In a vivid manner he pictured to the jury the details of the enormous and infamous crime with which the prisoner was charged, first explaining to the twelve men the literal meaning of the terms willfully, premeditatedly, deliberately and malice aforethought. He interpreted this language lucidly and rapidly, applying each word or synonym to some act of McCoy's in connection with the killing in an unmistakable manner. He pointed out the strongest and most incriminating evidence of the prosecution which had been given by seven or eight disinterested men, and in the next breath called the attention of the jurors to the weak and uncertain replies of witnesses for the defense. He closed by appealing to the jury in behalf of the people of the territory to carefully weigh the evidence and return a verdict in accordance with the facts in the case. The verdict, he stated, should undoubtedly be 'murder in the first degree,' as the indictment reads."

Mr. Stool was followed by Hon. John A. Riner, who spoke for the defense about 45 minutes. His address was mostly confined to an endeavor to work up sympathy for McCoy. "He made several mild attacks upon the evidence of various witnesses for the plaintiff, and admonished that the evidence of Lockwood, McCoy and Watson was entitled to just as much consideration as the testimony of any other witness. Mr. Riner spoke earnestly and plainly nearly an hour. He threw particular stress upon the fact that Gunn was not, as stated by counsel for the prosecution, a bosom friend of McCoy, and called the attention of the jury to the fact that two men who testified as to the non-combative actions of Gunn in Waters' saloon were in a position, he believed, where they could not see what they positively testified to having seen. The audience listened attentively to the argument of both Mr. Riner and Mr. Stoll."

Judge Corn then charged the bailiffs in regard to their care of the jury, over Sunday as follows: "The gentlemen are not to converse about the case among themselves or to talk to outsiders upon any subject whatever. They will not attend church not peruse current newspapers or periodicals, and will be returned to the jury box at 9 o'clock Monday morning."

On Monday morning at 8 o'clock court was again convened, and Judge Lacey commenced his argument for the defense. From the Leader the following report is taken: "In choice language and feeling tones Mr. Lacey warned the jury that they should exercise the most careful judgment in the minutest particulars. He sought to inflate the alleged occurrence where Gunn is said by McCoy, Watson and Lockwood to have made the remark, "I can whip McCoy for $5." stating that this utterance was a threat in the eyes of the law and should be so considered by the jury. He endeavored to explode the theory that the prisoner had made preparations for the commission of the crime by causing a horse to be placed in readiness for his flight. Capt. Longer testified to having observed the horse, already saddled, tethered to a wagon but a few minutes before the killing. The difficulty between Waters and McCoy at the saloon of the latter several hours previous to the tragedy was presented to the jury in the best possible light for the defense. The adroit and subtle style of Judge Lacey reached a climax when he described the actual occurrence which led to the trial. At this point McCoy became the wronged man and Gunn the aggressor. Then it was that the deceased instead of the criminal was the offender, and the jury were told that the cruel shots were undoubtedly fired in self-defense. There was much speculation as to the manner in which the learned pleader would dispose of the apparent uselessness of firing the second shot. He did not attempt to evade the point or dodge the issue. With the assurance of a man confident of success and entirely conscientious in his efforts the judge looked squarely at each juror in turn and presented the position of the defense upon the subject. Assuming that unfortunate Chas. Gunn was falling from life's uncertain heights into death's dark river. McCoy did not and could not know, and naturally supposing that the dying man's last thought was of revenge, placed his revolver to the head of the prostrate victim and fired the shot which completed his bloody work. After once more calling the attention of the jurors to the sacredness of the oath taken by them, the enormity of shedding the blood of an innocent man and a few material law points, Judge Lacey ceased.


The attorney for the people, aside from the splendid talents with which nature has so liberally endowed him, possesses an extensive knowledge of the law, and controls a magnificent flow of language. The audience expected much from hi and was not disappointed. His effort was pronounced one of the finest arguments in all that the word argument implies, ever heard in the court room for the first judicial district. After briefly, but consciously and carefully explained to the attentive jury the precise signification of the terms premeditated, willfully and maliciously the orator reviewed the evidence of the case in a general way, paying particular attention to the important details. For the thirty-five minutes preceding the noon hour Mr. Stoll convinced the audience, the prisoner at the bar and evidently a large portion of the jury that Dan Bogan, alias Wm. McCoy, was not a defender of his own rights, property or life, but a cruel and wanton murderer. He effectually disproved the theory of self defense and gazing squarely at the fugitive denounced him as a coward in every sense of the word.

When court reconvened at 1:30 o'clock even the lobby and the stairway were crowded to hear the just and eloquent words 3hich fell from the lips of the most popular and able prosecuting attorney who has held that office in Laramie county. He then began work in earnest. In unmistakable terms the letter and spirit of the law was interpreted to the jury and portions of the evidence reviewed at length. With ingenuity born of necessity to the hour and nurtured by the consciousness of right he produced and read extracts from the good book which is the model for the formation of all laws - the bible. "If a man slay his fellow man he is a murderer and shall surely died." The speaker did not avail himself of the opportunity for lessening the prisoner's chances for life by mentioning his Texas record, which in substance is the unprovoked murder of two men and implication in the death of two others. McCoy ws probably thankful, but did not appear comfortable despite the knowledge of the speaker's leniency. 'It matters not', said Mr. Stoll, 'that McCoy and Waters had a difference previous to the killing of Gunn. It was a transaction in which the latter played no part. Had James Waters killed McCoy he would undoubtedly be occupying the position of the prisoner at the bar to-day. As to the murderer's escape, it was undoubtedly prearranged, according to the testimony of a number of unimpeached witnesses. A preponderance of evidence established the fact that there was not sufficient time between the departure of McCoy from the saloon of James Watrs' and his appearance 150 yards from town, to allow the fleeing man to take his horse from the stable and saddle it. But what of the second shot fired by McCoy into the brain of the already senseless man whom he had so foully murdered? It was clearly an infamous deed. The defendant had testified upon his cross examination that by walking across the saloon he could have avoided the encounter. When Gunn fell he could have left with still greater safety. He did not do so. His appetite for blood was fully aroused. The brains of Gunn bespattering the floor of the saloon was the only sight that would appease his in satiate longings for a scene familiar in his career before arriving in Wyoming. When McCoy mounted that horse and leisurely galloped away he did not fear mob violence, though he deserved it. Flight would have been the remotest of of his thoughts had Chas. Gunn been killed in self defense. When he circled that revolver above his head he was saying: "People of Lusk, I have killed a man. I am no longer Wm. McCoy, but Dan Bogan, the Texas fugitive.' At the conclusion of his argument Attorney Stoll faced the jury, and in an impressive manner entered the simple sentence: 'I have done my duty will you do yours?'


At the termination of Mr. Stoll's argument all faces were tuned toward Judge Corn, who wasted neither time nor words in delivering his charge. He did not attempt to review the evidence, but clearly and concisely informed the jury upon the law points involved. He stated the acts necessary to have been performed in order that a jury should find a verdict for one of the degrees of homicide, in one particular, and a most important one Judge Corn's charge differed materially from one delivered by Chief Justice Maginnis upon a similar occasion a few weeks since. He stated distinctly that in a plea of self defense the burden of proof rested entirely with the prosecution, Judge Maginnis charged the Trumble jury the direct opposite upon this proposition. Both cannot be correct. The point will be decided at the next session of the supreme court of the territory, when the Trumble case will be brought before that body.


The twelve men who have been in charge of a bailiff since last Wednesday afternoon, retired at 3:45 o'clock. Mr. Baily, the dairyman, was chosen foreman. The body deliberated until 7:30 o'clock, when they marched into the court room and asked for instructions, which the judge at once refused to give. They desired his honor to harmonize the apparently different applications of the words, premeditatedly, malicious, etc., which were used quite frequently in the charge. At 11 o'clock the jury informed the judge that there was hardly a possibility of an agreement being reached before sometime to-day. Court adjourned a few minutes later.


At 12:30 o'clock last night it was learned that the vote stood eight for guilty as charged in the indictment, two for conviction for murder in the second degree, and one for acquittal. From the sidewalk below it was observed that several of the jurors were very much excited. Two or three of them would gather around an obstinate member and endeavor to convince him that he was entirely wrong, evidently with but little success. The jury is 'hung.' Public sentiment and the evidence in the case say that McCoy should hang."

At 1:45 on Tuesday a message was received by Jack Baker stating that the jury had brought in a verdict of murder in the first degree.

The Lusk Herald, October 7, 1887 


McCoy, LeRoy, Jones and Sterry Saw Through the Quarter Inch Iron Ceiling of Their Cell and Escape - Large Rewards Offered for their Capture, DEAD or ALIVE

Cheyenne Leader Oct. 5th - Four men clambering to the ground from the one story brick building in the rear of the court house, which serves as a kitchen and is a part of the county jail, attracted the attention of Mrs. William Morgan, who lives close by. This was at ten minutes pat 8 o'clock last evening. In the uncertain light the lady imagined the men to be boys who are in the habit of playing in that neighborhood. She saw them jump over the fence apparently in no great haste, and quietly disappear toward the west end of the city, and for the time being paid no further attention to the matter.

The suspicions of an eight-year-old boy who also sighted the men, was aroused and he hastened to inform the court house janitor, Charles Oakes, that four men had come down a rope from the roof of the building." That functionary lost no time in conveying the information to Sheriff Sharpless.

The sheriff, who continually anticipates a delivery, immediately entered the jail and began a close inspection of the various cells. The men imprisoned in the first tier were in their compartments. A number of them were asleep, several were reading and the remainder were earnestly discussing the probabilities of an early removal to the Missouri penitentiary at Jefferson City.

Mr. Sharpless was so certain that no one could possibly escape from the steel cells on the second tier that he did not a first visit them, but instructed the youth confined for robbery of the Five Mile ranch to see if McCoy, his room mates and neighbors were in their cage.

The boy glanced hastily through the bars of the strong steel enclosure and reported that the tenants of the two rooms were all asleep. The sheriff was not satisfied, however, apprehending that the rumor of escape could not reach his ears unless there was some color of truth in ti. He ordered the boy to carefully examine the cells. The lad did so and in exciting and trembling tones told the officer that McCoy, Jones, LeRoy and Sterry were gone and the "dummies" occupied their beds. As a matter of fact this proved to be so and the beds which apparently contained living occupants were made to appear so, simply by an adroit arrangement of the bed clothing. The four occupants of one cell had flown.

At the time of the escape no guards were on duty, though the jail was lighted up. Deputy Smalley had locked up at 5 o'clock as usual and Watchman Artist would have entered the jail four hours later and remain until morning. The prisoners naturally selected the hour that they did an account of the absence of the officials.

They had sawed a hole about 18 inches in diameter through the quarter inch iron ceiling, had crawled through this and a sky light and thence pack over the roof to the rear when they slid down a rope.

The work has been one which has occupied days in its accomplishment. The indications are that everything was planned with cool deliberation and they were prepared to go to any length is evidenced by the fact that they had weapons in readiness. These consisted of pieces of iron weighing about a pound, around which was securely tied strips of muslin so that the weapon might be used in the manner of slingshots. The secure and clever manner in which they were arranged shows the hand of an artist in this peculiar line of business.

The news of the escape spread through the city rapidly. It was in everyone's mouth in less than twenty minutes after the men emerged from the prison. Citizens hurried to the court house from every direction. Never since the lynching of Mosier has such a crown gathered in the vicinity of that structure.

When Sheriff Sharpless called for volunteers to join the pursuing posse more brave men responded than mounts and firearms could be provided for Saddle horses and rifles were in great demand. Several enthusiastic citizens purchased rifles outright. Shotguns and revolvers were a drug on the market, these weapons being unsuitable for contest with such desperate and reckless characters as McCoy, LeRoy, Jones and Sterry.

At 2:50 o'clock, fully two hours after the prisoners escaped, Sheriff Sharpless, who had been deputizing men right and left, telephoning and telegraphing about the country, writing orders for horses, guns and ammunition, and answering the questions of the crown which besieged his office, suddenly bethought himself of something, and forcing a passage through the crown in the hallway, drew the attention of the assemblage and shouted:

"Hear ye, hear ye, $500 reward for McCoy, $500 for Jones, $200 each for LeRoy and Sterry, dead or alive."

This brief announcement produced great enthusiasm, and elicited loud applause. Deafening cheers sounded through the sharp nigh air when the official a moment later, delivered the following characteristic proclamation:

"Hear ye, this is Seth K. Sharpless speaking for himself individually now, I give $500 in addition to the reward offered by the territory for the capture of McCoy, dead or alive."

A squad departed in every direction. It was presumed the criminals might have taken, while horsemen were detailed to carefully search the outskirts of the city Two well armed parties started for the north. Crow, Pole, Hose and Bear creeks, their tributaries and surrounding hills, will be thoroughly traveled over before noon to-day, while the west, south, and east will not be overlooked. If the men are not captured within twenty-four hours it will be simply because they are better mounted and more acquainted with the country than their pursuers.

Upon the arrival of Gen. Crook from the east at 11:30 o'clock last night he was wanted upon by Sheriff Sharpless and Col. Murrin and requested to instruct Col. Offley, commanding Fort Russell to furnish aid to the civil authorities, if possible. Gen. Crook at once penned a note to Col. Offley, which communication was soon delivered to that gentleman. He at once set about making arrangements and at 5 o'clock this morning the colored cavalry, under command of Capt. Parker, mounted on pack mules, were scouring the country in every direction. This courtesy on the part of the military authorities, and the valuable assistance so willingly and promptly given, will not soon be forgotten.

As to whether or not the prisoners have had confederates on the outside who had arranged the details of the escape subsequent to the jail break, is a matter for much speculation, though few people have little actual knowledge on the subject. It may now be definitely stated that it is more than probable that they had confederates.

Governor's Proclamation, Cheyenne, Wyo., Oct. 4, 1887

To His Excellency Thomas Moonlight, Governor Wyoming


I beg leave to state that at about the hour of eight o'clock p.. the following persons escaped from the county jail of Laramie. viz. Dan Bogan, alias William McCoy, convicted at the lat term of our district court of the crime of murder in the first degree; Charles H. LeRoy, bound over to appear before the next grand jury for the crime of injuring, defacing and breaking a public jail; James Jones, bound over to answer before the grand jury for the crime of burglary, and Wm. C. Steery, bound over to appear before the grand jury for the crime of horse stealing.

The description of Dan Bogan, alias William McCoy, is as follows:

His age is about 28 years, his height about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches; his hair is dark and cut short; wears small dark brown mustache; weighs about 160 pounds; wears a No. 6 boot and has high instep; walks slightly stooped; has thin lips, bluish gray eyes and an old scar on back of neck.

The description of Charles H. LeRoy is about as follows:

Age about 26 years; height about 5 feet 8 inches, well built; complexion light; full round face, small light mustache; swaggering walk.

The description of James Jones is about as follows:

Age about 35 years; height about five feet, ten inches; very smooth face; under jaw protruding somewhat; mouth slightly sunk in; dark complexion; cat like walk, and generally very stealthy in all his movements and in his appearance.

The description of William C. Sterry is about as follows:

Age about 24 years, height five feet, six or seven inches; dark complexion, hair dark, short, but inclined to curt; sharp features; Roman nose; slight in build.

I therefore have the honor to request that rewards be offered for the above escaped prisoners as follows, to-wit: For Dan Bogan, alias Wm. McCoy, $500 for Charles H. LeRoy, $200 for James James, $500; and for William C. Sterry $200.

I will also state that a reward for the capture, dead or alive, of Dan Bogan, alias William McCoy, S. K. Sharpless, has offered and now offers, in addition to all other rewards, a reward of $500. Very respectfully, your obedient servant

W. R. Stoll,

Prosecuting Attorney.

In accordance with the above request and in conformity with the statutes in such cases made and provided, I do hereby offer the following rewards:

$500 for the arrest of Dan Bogan, alias Wm. McCoy.

$500 for the arrest of James Jones.

$200 for the arrest of Charles H. LeRoy.

$200 for the arrest of William C. Sterry.

In addition to the above the sheriff offers $500 for the arrest of Bogan, alias McCoy.

Thomas Moonlight,


Executive office, Cheyenne, Wyo., Oct. 4, 1887.

The News in Lusk

Deputy Owens received messages from Sheriff Sharpless and Prosecuting Atty. Stoll about 10 o'clock Wednesday morning. He immediately procured and equipped three parties of five or six each leading one himself, and placing one respectively in charge of John Steffen and P. F. Sullivan. These officials wee all cool, and started out with the intention of not allowing the fugitives to pass this way.

The Lusk Herald, October 14, 1887

Two men supposed to be McCoy and Leroy stole two horses from the TH ranch on Cherry creek, 10 miles southeast of Ft/ Laramie, last Saturday night. They had previously stolen grub from F. E. Warren's sheep ranch, on Bear creek. From Cherry creek they went through Ft. Laramie, and probably went north into Crook county.


Someone wrote the Denver Republican the following description of our peaceable town, which is too rich to be allowed to pass unnoticed:

"When the Fremont, Elkhorn & Missouri Valley railroad was being extended into Wyoming the first considerable town that was formed was at the old Running Water stage crossing, and it was placed on the map as Lusk. Lusk was the scene of three murders a short time after the railroad reached the town. No harder class of men ever congregated in a new town which had nothing to recommend it except being temporarily the end of the track. Charles Trumble shot Edward Miley, alias Red Bill, and shortly afterwards Dan Bogan, alias Bill McCoy, shot Charles Gunn. Trumble is in jail at Cheyenne under sentence of death. Bogan escaped on Tuesday night from the Cheyenne jail, where he was under conviction of murder.

Duging Bogan's trial one witness was engaged in detailing the circumstances of a misunderstanding which occurred on the evening previous to the murder and which led to it. He said: We was standin' in front of Bill's saloon, and somebody says 'Les take a drink.' Just then Waters come up and says, 'Bill, I understand you said you could lick me last night.' Bill was behind the bar and he grabbed his gun and come running around the end of the bar. Waters pulled his gun as he saw Bill, an' I pulled my gun, and Mid Nichols he pulled his gun and a fellow who was sittin' inside he pulls his gun an....'

At this point the prosecuting attorney broke in and remarked: "Lusk was quite a peaceable community at that time was it not?"

The witness, with all seriousness -

"Yes, sir, Lusk was a pretty peaceable community, generally."

The Lusk Herald, November 4, 1887

McCoy and LeRoy

Lander Mountaineer - Last Sunday evening a travel strained, tired but resolute-looking individual arrived in Lander and registered at one of the Lander hotels, kept by H. G. Nickerson.

This was Ben Smalley, the deputy sheriff of Laramie county, and he was aftr the escaped Cheyenne jail birds, McCoy, the murderer and desperado, and Leroy, the horse thief and confidence man. The deputy sheriff of Laramie county was brought to Lander by a telegram from Malcolm Campbell, the deputy sheriff of Albany county, which informed him that McCoy and Leroy were seen on Sunday, the 16th inst., on the Sweetwater, a short distance below the Tom Sun ranch. The information was authentic, being given Campbell by a manwho knows both the escaped prisoners well by sight, though unknown to them, and Campbell guarantees the reliability of the man so furnishing information, and there can be no doubt but that the murderer and the horse thief so boldly escaping, and so energetically and fruitlessly sought, were on the Sweetwater at the time specified.

On his arrival here, Deputy Sheriff Smalley had a consulation with Deputy Sheriff Fields, (Sheriff Sparhawk not having returned from his Illinois trip.) and it was decided that the Fremont county deputy sheriff, as best knowing the country and the ranchmen, should take a man with him and at once ride to Atlantic, leaving the Laramie county deputy in charge of the Fremont county jail. Accordingly on Monday Deputy Fields, accompanied by Charley Cob, started for Atlantic, while Deputy Smalley assumed charge of the Fremont county jail. Should Deputy Fields fail to find or hear anything of the fugitives at Atlantic, he and Cobb will strike down the Sweetwater, scouring the country, and visiting the ranches as they go.

On his part, Deputy Smalley is to keep a vigilant lookout for all ranch and stockmen coming into Lander from the north, and interview them in regard to any persons they may have lately seen upon the ranges. In case he thus strikes any clue Smalley is to at once follow it up, notifying Fields of the fact by letters addressed to the Sweetwater postffices, Meyersville and Rongis.

Deputy Sheriff Smalley has ridden since the escape on the 4th inst., over 600 miles, and he is here to follow the trail of McCoy and Leroy to the end, whatever that may be.

Deputy Sheriff Smalley is the officer whose resolute and successful pursuit on Montana soil of Murderer Patterson has lately brought his name into such favorable notice.

The Lusk Herald, November 18, 1887

LeRoy in Jail Again

From last Sunday's Leader

Chas. LeRoy, horse thief, jail breaker and alleged stage robber and hold up, in his own conceited mind and in the imagination of worshipers of lions of his despicable stripe, the most important individual at present occupying a lonely cell in the Laramie county jail.

The fugitive, the second of the escaped prisoners to be recaptured, arrived from the west yesterday afternoon in charge of Deputy Sheriff Smalley, who has been pursuing the captive and the still missing McCoy for the past three weeks.

The capture of LeRoy was effected at a tie camp near Red Lodge, Mont., fully 500 miles from Cheyenne by Arthur Sparhawk, Ben H. Smalley, and two other men. The escaped prisoner reached the camp 24 hours before his pursuers and was given work. He and a companion were "snaking" logs on the thickly timbered hillside. The officials approached cautiously fearing that LeRoy would take refuge in the surrounding underbrush. When the desired man was covered with rifles and ordered to elevate his hands, he almost fainted and did not cease trembling until enroute to Lander.

The prodigal prisoner states that Jones was the master mind and leader of the plot. Prior to the transfer of the most desperate prisoners to the steel cells Jones had a fine steel saw in his possession. He retained this tool and received two more from an unknown friend. McCoy, the captured man asserts, feared that Lockwood would reveal their plans, and spent a greater portion of his time in writing letters vowing eternal friendship to the man whom he cursed as a coward before his cell mates. Lockwood assured a Leader representative and other persons some time since that he was not aware that the delivery was to occur. It might be mentioned incidentally that Lockwood's reputation for veracity is much better than LeRoy's.

The horse thief grew eloquent when relating circumstances of the flight northward. In box Elder canyon, he confidently asserts, two officers passed within 15 feet of himself and McCoy. Had the pursuers espied the game lurking in the rocks, they would have been shot down like dogs. Not desiring to shed the blood of offending men and raising a still greater furor, Leroy says they regretfully allowed the officers to travel peacefully onward. While admitting that he stole horses at Cherry creek and maintaining that he was compelled to provide food and transportation for McCoy, LeRoy defies the authorities to convict him of horse stealing.

Leroy declares that he and McCoy separated near Tom Sun's Sweetwater ranch. The murderer declared his intention of proceeding to Northwest Territory as soon as possible.

There are still fair prospects of McCoy's capture at an early day, as the authorities in Norther Montana are anxiously awaiting his advent in that section.

The Lusk Herald, November 25, 1887  Arrested as Accessories

From the Leader

Ben Smalley, Chas. Moore and Malcolm Campbell arrived from the north last evening having in custody H. T. Hall, Jas. Donnelly, John Franklin and James McChestnut, charged with assisting Bill McCoy in his flight. The quartet were arrested at the Keeline ranch by Campbell and Moore.

Hall is foreman of the ranch, bears the reputation of being a first class cowman, a law abiding citizen, but a sworn friend of McCoy. It is believed that Donnelly will not long remain in the Laramie county jail as the arrival of a Texas officer with a requisition charging him with murder is anticipated.

Deputy Sheriff Vaughn, of Fort Laramie precinct, arrived from the north Sunday evening, having in custody John Mcginnis, an employ of the 41 ranch charged with aiding McCoy in his flight. Mcginnis is the young man whom LeRoy asserts provided himself and the murderer with food and raiment upon their visit to the ranch where he was employed.

The four men incarcerated Saturday night maintain that they are innocent of the crime charged. The footwear sported by LeRoy and McCoy at the time of the escape is now in possession of Prosecuting Attorney Stoll.

The Lusk Herald, December 16, 1887

The grand jury returned indictments against James Donnelly and Charles McChestnut as accessories after the fact in the killing of C. S. Gunn, in that they assisted the escape of Dan Bogan alias Wm. McCoy. James Franklin was not indicted.

The Lusk Herald, December 30, 1887

Was it McCoy!

Rawlins Journal

A Journal representative caught on to some very interesting information this week which appears entirely reliable, and which would indicate that while the authorities were hunting McCoy north of here, he doubling on his pursuers, went south, passing within a few miles of this city and is probably now safe in Arizona or New Mexico.

The facts are, shortly after McCoy departed company with LeRoy a man answering McCoy's description and riding a very fine, large roan horse, new saddle and armed with two new six-shooters, stopped over night at the ranch of a well known citizen of Sand creek. The horse was splendidly broke and quite gentle, and the rider took very great care of him. The man, who is thought to be McCoy, would not sleep in any house, but took his blankets, which he carried with him on the saddle, and slept away from the buildings by himself. It was also noticed that he would never allow any one to approach him from behind, always keeping his face toward who ever came near him. The ranchman referred to did not know McCoy, but is now convinced that this man was no other than that noted criminal. After leaving Sand creek, this man fell in with a young man (now in this city) who was trying to make his way back to Nevada. The man supposed to be McCoy, told him at first that he was from Douglas, and was hunting horses, but the young man soon found that he was not very well acquainted with the country and noticed that he studiously avoided all the ranches except when in need of food and he told him that he never slept in any house, but always slept out, especially citing one night when he camped on the top of a high hill and killed a calf for food. The stranger finally said he would go to White river as he was acquainted there, having formerly worked in that neighborhood, and that he was to meet a man there who was to accompany him south in Arizona and invited the young man to go with him. This the young man apparently consented to do, when after a hard day's ride, they arrived near Fort Steele the young man's horse played out and he wanted to come through this city to procure a fresh one, this , the stranger refused to do, so they parted company, the young man coming to this city.

The next day a man somewhat known here, and who is said to be sell acquainted with McCoy, came into the city and was getting ready to leave for the south. He was apparently in great haste to get away, saying he was going to Arizona. He is known to be familiar with all the country between here and Arizona and New Mexico, and left in a day or two. From all these facts which can be easily verified, there seems to be considerable probability that the stranger referred to was no other than the noted McCoy and he is now safe in Arizona.

The Lusk Herald, August 4, 1892

Mollie McGuder's Ghost

The ghost of Mollie McGruder, who was killed near Seventh and Tracy Streets, about a year ago, by William McCoy, still appears to frighten those who have to pass along that way in the early morning hours, writes a Kansas City correspondent.

As stated in these dispatches two weeks ago, the woman first appeared to the keeper of the saloon on the corner of Independence and Lydia avenues, and appeared to be asking for a bucket of beer. She then appealed to several passers-by and to a policeman, who, since that time, has never had occasion to get near the spot where the murder was committed.

The publication in a morning paper here of the fact that such an apparition had been seen caused a number of people to go in that neighborhood on such nights as they happened to be out late, in the hope of being able to see the spirit.

The result is that there are now not less than seven people who declare that they saw the ghost of the murdered woman, and while she invariably has the appearance of wanting to reveal something, no one has yet had nerve enough to stay to hear hr story. The latest tale is from a man who had heard nothing about the ghost, and who had occasion to cut across Lydia avenue about 2 o'clock one morning recently.

The gentleman was hurrying through the dark street, when his attention was attracted by a woman who was standing perfectly erect near a telegraph pole about ten feet from a street lamp. She stood so still and looked at him so intently that he though she might be a man who was dressed as a woman for the purpose of robbery, and, drawing his revolver, he approached hr with the intention of asking what she was doing there at that time of night.

She was in full view, but as the man got near to the telegraph pole the woman seemed to dissolve in thin air, and left no trace behind her. The gentleman thought it strange, and it was only when he related his story next morning that he found he had approached Mollie McGruder's ghost. 

The Lusk Herald, April 9, 1903

Bill McCoy, who murdered Deputy Sheriff Charles Gunn at Lusk in 1887, and who escaped from the jail in Cheyenne while awaiting execution for the crime, was killed in New Mexico last week by a fall from his horse, his neck being broken. On his person was found a letter telling who he was. Many persons here will be glad to learn of is demise as the crime he committed in this town was a cold blooded one.

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