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New-York Times / Feb 24, 1884


skullTOMBSTONE, Arizona, Feb. 23. -- At 9 o'clock on Thursday morning Judge Pinney sentenced John Heith to confinement in Yuma Penitentiary for life for complicity in the Bisbee murders. Twenty-four hours later the dead body of Heith dangled from the cross bar of a telegraph pole near the foot of Toughnut-street, where it was suspended by a rope. The following are the particulars of the occurrence as near as can be gathered: About 8:30 yesterday hangmanmorning a crowd of men, mostly miners, numbering about 150, proceeded to the Court-house. Arriving there they detailed seven of their number from Bisbee, who entered and demanded that John Heith be turned over to them. The seven men approached the door leading to the corridor of the jail and one of them knocked. Being about time for the Chinaman who brings food for the prisoners to arrive, Jailer Ward opened the door unsuspiciously, and was immediately covered by weapons and told to give up the keys of the jail. Seeing any attempt at resistance would be useless he did as requested, and in a few minutes the deputation was in the presence of the sought-for man. The crowd, which by this time had filled the spacious hall, started for the street. At the door they were met by Sheriff Ward, who called on them in the name of the law to desist. The Sheriff was picked up and gently removed down the steps out of the way, while the crowd started down the street on a run. The rope had been placed around Heith's body, and about 20 men had hold of it. It never became taut during the run, the prisoner keeping up with the crowd, and showing no signs of the white feather.

Arriving at the place selected for the hanging one of the party climbed a telegraph pole and passed the rope over the cross-bar. Heith pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and, placing it on his knee, coolly and deliberately folded it, and, placing it over his eyes, asked some one in the crowd to tie it. This being done, he informed the crowd they were hanging an innocent man, and would find it out when the others (meaning Dowd and his companions) were hanged. He told them he had faced death too often to be afraid, and had but one request to make, namely, that they would not shoot into his body. He was told his last wish would be respected and he told them he was ready. Countless hands grasped the rope. A run was made, and in a twinkling the man was suspended to the pole. The news spread about town rapidly, and in a few minutes an immense crowd of men, women, and children congregated on the scene. The universal expression was, "Served him right." That this opinion should be so prevalent is no doubt the result of the testimony at the trial, which was convincing to any mind of ordinary intelligence, that Heith was a guilty accessory to the Bisbee murders.

The Coroner's jury found as a verdict that Heith came to his death from "emphysema, which might have been caused by strangulation, self-inflicted or otherwise." A placard was posted on the telegraph pole where Heith was found suspended and dead with the following inscription: "John Heith was hanged to this pole by citizens of Cochise County for participation in the Bisbee massacre as a proved accessory at 8:20 A.M., Feb 22, l884 (Washington's Birthday) to advance Arizona."



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