Henry McCarty is one of the most prominent figures from the Wild West era. Most people know him better as Billy the Kid.
He is known to have killed at least eight men before he himself was shot and killed at the age of 21.
McCarty became an orphan at age 15. He led a hard life without his parents, getting arrested for stealing food the following year. Only ten days later, he robbed a laundry and got caught again – but he escaped soon after.
That’s when he fled New Mexico for Arizona, turning himself into a federal fugitive and an outlaw. McCarty started calling himself William Bonney to try to avoid capture.
He Killed a Blacksmith in Arizona and Returned to New Mexico
After an altercation with a blacksmith in 1877, he decided to return to New Mexico. After joining some cattle rustlers, he became a well-known name in the territory. That’s when he took part in the Lincoln County War of 1878.
It wasn’t until the Las Vegas, NM newspaper ran stories about his crimes that McCarty’s notoriety grew. It only took a local sheriff a month to capture him after that feature, where he was tried and convicted for the murder of another sheriff during the Lincoln County War.
He was sentenced to hang the next month, but he escaped from jail on April 28, 1881, after killing two deputies. After evading capture for two months, he was shot and killed by law enforcement.
Legends grew that he survived the encounter, with several men claiming to be Billy the Kid.