Three New Mexico officials looking for answers about the death of Western legend Billy the Kid have dropped their request to exhume what are believed to be the outlaw’s remains.
Sheriff Tom Sullivan, joined by deputy and Capitan Mayor Steve Sederwall and Sheriff Gary Graves, launched an investigation last year into the outlaw’s escape in early 1881 and Sheriff Pat Garrett’s killing of the Kid later that year.
The investigation aims to clear up persistent questions about the fate of William Bonney, known in Western lore as Billy the Kid.
Over the last century, at least two men surfaced claiming to be him. The stories pre-suppose Garrett killed the wrong man and lied about it.
Sullivan and the others filed a petition in state district court earlier this year, seeking exhumation. But yesterday, their lawyers filed to end the request.
The court filing does not mean the hunt for answers is over, according to a spokesman for Governor Bill Richardson. The governor has supported the investigation, saying it is time the truth is known now that DNA technology is available.
“The investigation is moving in a different direction, toward discovering documents and anecdotal evidence of what occurred around Billy the Kid’s death - and his life,” Richardson spokesman Billy Sparks said.
“Digging is not necessary, so the governor is pleased that the case was dismissed.”
Forensics experts have been busy this summer performing tests on a bench that Sederwall believes to be the one the Kid’s body was laid on after Garrett gunned him down.
They have also examined a washstand that was purportedly struck by a bullet when Garrett shot the Kid.
Sparks says there is still a strong interest in the outlaw. ”It’s the tale of the West,” he said.