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A brief account of a desperado's crimes


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Published in the Idaho Tri-Weekly Statesman / Feb. 22, 1872

A Noted Desperado.

Last Saturday afternoon the notorious desperado, Tomaso Rodinido, alias Procopio, alias Red Dick, was arrested in this city by Sheriff Morse, of Alameda, and other officers, on a charge of grand larceny. As Procopio's name is prominent in the criminal annals of our State, a brief account of his crimes will be read with interest:

He was born in Sonora, Lower California, in 1811, and, as his name indicates, is of Mexican parentage. His mother was a sister of the notorious Joaquin Murieta, who for years kept California in terror, and who was finally shot by Harry Love. In 1853 Procopio's parents moved to Los Angeles county. Here, when a boy, he became initiated in crime, and in 1859, when but eighteen years of age, he murdered a man named John Raines on the Cucamungo ranch.

Finding it convenient to leave, he came northward, and commenced operations in Alameda county. He organized a gang of bandits, whose residence was in Livermore valley, and of whom he was chosen captain. This gang for a year or more was a terror to farmers, whose cattle they ran off and whose property they appropriated whenever opportunity offered.

It was about this time that the horrible murder of the Golden family was committed, an atrocity which sent a shudder over the whole coast. A Mexican cattle herder was suspected of this act, but he stoutly denied being the guilty man, and asserted to the last that he saw Procopio commit the deed. Circumstantial evidence, however, was against him, and he was hung for a crime in which he was at most only a accomplice.

In 1863 Procopio and others ran off a drove of cattle from the ranch of a farmer named Pope. Constable Wood of San Leandro started after him with a warrant and caught him in Alvarado. Knowing him to be a desperado, Wood covered him with his pistol and demanded his surrender. Procopio threw up his hands and said he would surrender, as he was unarmed. Wood put back his pistol, when quick as thought Procopio drew out a revolver and shot Wood through the arm and escaped in the excitement. He was followed by a posse of citizens, and his further escape across the bridge was cut off. But he was equal to the emergency, and taking his pistol in his mouth he plunged into the river and swam across. He then ran for the salt marsh, closely followed by the citizens. Finding that they gained on him he turned at bay and fired at them, wounding a constable. He was captured, tried at San Leandro for stealing Pope's cattle, convicted and sentenced to the State prison for nine years. He served out his sentence and was liberated last March.

He then returned to Livermore valley and renewed hostilities against the farmers. His first operation was to steal a lot of cattle from John Arnott, at Sonora. Deputy Sheriff Ralf Frabrille and J. M. Smith started after him, but he had fled the country. They, however, found remains of one of Arnott's cattle in the yard of an accomplice of Procopio, named Juan Carmaga, and arrested and took him to Pleasanton, placing him in confinement. That night a large party of armed men in disguise seized upon the officers, and having secured them and placed a guard over them, they took Carmaga into the woods to hang him a little. A very little hanging satisfied him and he confessed the part he had taken in the affair, and gave the names of others of Procopio's accomplices.

Procopio in the meantime had taken up his headquarters at San Juan, Monterey county, where he engaged in the robbery of several stages and in marauding generally. But he could not stay in that county. It was too quiet and had not enough money. He traveled around and finally turned up in San Francisco, where he was "spotted" by our detective force. Chief Crowley telegraphed the fact to Sheriff Morse, who last Friday evening came over with L. C. Morehouse, a deputy. Detectives Stone and Bohen were detailed to assist them. They shadowed his haunts for about twenty-four hours, and Saturday afternoon found that he was in a house on Morton street. The officer made entrances simultaneously by different doors.

Procopio was sitting at a table eating, and seeing the officers enter at the front door he jumped to draw his revolver; but before he could pull it, Sheriff Morse, who had entered at the rear, had him pinioned by the throat, and in a moment he was handcuffed and on his way to jail. He is now boarding at the expense of Alameda county in the San Leandro jail.

 

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