Published October 23, 2006
PRESCOTT, Arizona – Prosecutors will not seek charges against two men who exhumed the remains of a man who claimed to be the outlaw Billy the Kid.
Tom Sullivan, former sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico, and Steve Sederwall, former mayor of Capitan, New Mexico, dug up the bones of John Miller in May 2005. Miller was buried at the state-owned Pioneers' Home Cemetery in Prescott nearly 70 years ago.
"It appears officials in charge of the facility gave permission and the people who were attempting to recover samples of the remains believed they had permission to do so," said Bill FitzGerald, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, which made the decision not to seek charges.
Sullivan and Sederwall obtained DNA from Miller's remains. The samples were sent to a Dallas lab to comparing Miller's DNA to blood traces taken from a bench that is believed to be the one Kid's body was placed on after he was shot to death in 1881.
Sullivan and Sederwall have been hunting for the Kid's bones since 2003.
They began their quest in Fort Sumner, New Mexico, where history says the Kid was buried after then-Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett gunned him down in 1881.
But at least two men — Miller and Ollie "Brushy Bill" Roberts of Texas — claimed prior to their deaths that they were Billy the Kid. Their stories presuppose that Garrett killed the wrong man and lied about it.
After more than a year of fighting to get permission to unearth the Fort Sumner grave, Sullivan and Sederwall dropped their request and decided to begin the process of elimination in Arizona.
They later returned the bones, and Pioneers' Home officials reinterred them in August.