History Features

Was Pat Garrett Killed Over Illegal Aliens?

The youngest son names his father's killer.

The youngest son names his father's killer.

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A two-year-old boy loses his father in 1908—his very famous father, Pat Garrett, responsible for killing the notorious Billy the Kid.

When Jarvis Garrett grows up, naturally he is curious to find out more about his father ... and wants to get to the bottom of who killed him.

In his early 50s, Jarvis marks his father’s death site, pouring wet concrete into which he scratches “P. Garrett” and “Feb. 1908.” In the concrete, he places a stone upon which his mother had carved a cross.

Twenty years will pass before Jarvis reveals who he believes killed his father. On May 6, 1978, at the V-O Ranch annual invitational gun show, 72-year-old Jarvis confides in Buck Westbrook and his friend, Bob Eder, a highly regarded Colt collector.

Sitting among priceless Western artifacts and antiques, and overlooking hundreds of square miles of grand old Texas brightened by a beautiful sunset, Jarvis first shares a commonly accepted story of his father’s death.

*Pat and a man named Carl Adamson left the Garrett ranch for Las Cruces, New Mexico, on the morning of February 29, 1908. They were heading there to finalize a deal that would allow Adamson and a man named Jim Miller to lease the grazing rights to the Garrett ranch. As they left the ranch, Pauline, Pat’s daughter, saw a man riding in the same direction of the buckboard. This man was Wayne Brazel who had been leasing the Garrett ranch to graze his goats.

At a spot in the foothill area some miles from Las Cruces, a point sheltered from view by hills on all sides, Pat Garrett was shot to death.

Brazel and Adamson left the body where it fell and rode to Las Cruces where Brazel turned himself [over] to Sheriff Felipe Lucero. Brazel told Lucero that he and Garrett got into an argument over the lease; Garrett went for his shotgun and Brazel shot him twice. Adamson verified Brazel’s statement.

W.W. Cox, a prominent rancher, helped raise the $10,000 bond money to free Brazel. Cox had been trying for years to obtain the water rights to the Garrett ranch. On April [19], 1909, Brazel was brought to trial and acquitted the same day.

Jarvis was [almost three years old] at the time his father was killed, so his death did not leave a traumatic impression on his life. But with all the controversy surrounding Pat Garrett’s death, Jarvis was determined to find the truth. Through many years of investigating the facts that were available and interviewing everybody associated with this time in history, Jarvis [felt he knew] the truth.

The investigation made at the scene and the autopsy that followed [threw] a completely different light on the subject. The investigation showed that Pat was in the process of relieving himself behind the left rear wheel of the buckboard...

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