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Newly-discovered image shows Billy the Kid, claims historian

Could that be the legendary William Bonney on the right? One historian is sure it is. (Las Cruces Sun-News)

An old, but recently discovered photo shows two men standing together in what historians figure must be about 1879, and there's new evidence that the man on the right is none other than Billy the Kid..

If true, it would be only the second known image of the Wild West gunslinger. The other one has already fetched millions of dollars at auction.

"It’s finally a good image of the Kid that reveals a young man as people who remembered him described him – not as the famous bucktoothed Billy we know so well."

- Historian Frank Parrish

New Mexico historian Frank Parrish, of Las Cruces, revealed the new image, made from a tintype owned by a Mesilla Valley man who wishes to remain anonymous. And Parrish has done some extensive research to back up his claim that the man on the right is the legendary gunfighter who was also known as William Henry McCarty Jr., William Bonney and Henry Antrim. Much of it is based on identifying the man on the left, as Dan Dedrick.

“The other individual had remained unidentified until recently when I identified him as Dan Dedrick, a very close friend of Billy’s. Identification of Dedrick is the ‘clincher’ in this image, elevating a near-certain image to a clearly and obvious picture of the Kid," Parrish told the Albuquerque Journal. "It’s finally a good image of the Kid that reveals a young man as people who remembered him described him – not as the famous bucktoothed Billy we know so well."

Billy the Kid would have been about 20 years old when the picture was taken - with less than two years left on the planet. The only known photo of the youthful Billy was a tintype owned by Dedrick's family for years and then sold for $2.3 million to Palm Beach, Fla., businessman William Koch in 2011 at Brian Lebel’s Annual Old West Show and Auction in Denver. In that photo, Billy is packing a Colt revolver and trademark 1873 Winchester carbine rifle. 

It's the Dedrick connection that convinced Parrish he had the second known picture of Billy, who was born Nov. 23, 1859, in New York and died July 14, 1881, in Fort Sumner.

“There are many purported photo images of Billy the Kid, but only one that is acknowledged by leading historians – until now,” Parrish told the paper. “The famous standing bucktoothed Billy photograph was originally given to Dan Dedrick by Billy. It was not known until now that the same Dan Dedrick had his photo taken with his pal.”

The newly surfaced tintype was once part of the estate of Pat Garrett, the sheriff who shot and killed Bonney. Parrish was asked by the current owner to authenticate it and determined the lesser-known man was definitely Dedrick.

“Identification of Dedrick is the ‘clincher’ in this image, elevating a near-certain image to a clearly and obvious picture of the Kid," he said. "It’s finally a good image of the Kid that reveals a young man as people who remembered him described him – not as the famous bucktoothed Billy we know so well,” Parish said.

Parrish expects “there will be skeptics," but he has no doubts.

“It’s Billy,” he said.