Billy the Kid: The Plot Thickens
By Matthew Heller

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Sheriff Pat Garrett did not kill Billy the Kid but did a "body switch" with a drunk Mexican, according to an affidavit filed in support of efforts to exhume the remains of the Kid's mother from a New Mexico grave.

Two latter-day New Mexico sheriffs are seeking the exhumation to help clear up whether Garrett really did kill the Kid in Fort Sumner, N.M., in 1881 -- or whether the legendary outlaw escaped and lived to old age in Texas. A hearing on their petition is scheduled before a district court judge Jan. 27.

The affidavit was sworn by Homer Overton, an Alta Loma, Calif., man who claims he met Garrett's widow in 1940 while vacationing in New Mexico. Apolonaria Garrett told him and another boy that "Pat did not shoot Billy." Instead, Pat, using the body of the drunk Mexican,

made a plan to make it look like Pat killed Billy so Billy could go to Mexico and live with no one looking for him any more.

In a court brief, the sheriffs of Lincoln and De Baca counties cite the affidavit as evidence that "probable cause exists to go forward with the exhumation of Catherine Antrim" from her grave in Silver City.

The exhumation is being opposed by Silver City and Fort Sumner officials who say it is a publicity stunt that serves "no legitimate law enforcement purpose." The sheriffs insist in their brief:

Rumor to the contrary notwithstanding, there is no book deal, no movie deal and no plan to sell tickets to the exhumation of Catherine Antrim.

The Overton affidavit may raise more questions than it answers. For one thing, if the drunk Mexican wasn't already dead before he was body-switched, doesn't that make Garrett a murderer?

For other Billy the Kid stories and court documents, click here.

1/14/04