"Who Killed Who? Where?"

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Article taken from "Backsights" Magazine published by Surveyors Historical Society


From Treasured Tidbits of Time, by Jens Wilde, Providence, Utah, 1977.

Death is frequently confusing, but probably never more so than on January 16, 1911 when a shooting occurred at an isolated sheep camp at Dry Hollow, about six miles west of Cokeville, Wyoming.

Here are a few of the interesting problems involved in the case.

John Hunt, a sheepherder known around the Cokeville area, had been in town most of the day drinking. Toward evening he headed west out of town in a deeply inebriated condition and a jug under his arm.

At his camp, a disagreement developed between P.J. McAtee, a visitor at the camp, Charles Rice, and Hunt. The result was the death of Rice- shot at close range squarely between the eyes.

McAtee went to Cokeville to notify the sheriff. Before it ended, it took two county sheriffs, a U.S. Marshall, two county surveyors and two juries to finally conclude that Rice was killed in self defense.

The problem was that Constable McClean of Cokeville was not sure the shooting occurred in Wyoming. He called Sheriff Rich of Bear Lake. They examined the area. Rich felt that it was in Wyoming but neither man was certain so Uintah county surveyor was brought from Evanston to determine the issue. He joined the Bear Lake surveyor and after a full day of locating corner markers and boundaries, it was decided that the death was in Idaho by over 150 feet.

All during this time, Hunt had been jailed in Cokeville and now had to be transferred to Paris by Sheriff Amasa Rich. The body followed with Coroner Nowland and Prosecuting Attorney Higgins.

Hunt had admitted the shooting but would say nothing more than "I did it, I did it!!"

A Coroner's jury was called to determine the cause of death. They concluded death had come as a result of a shot to the head by a 44 caliber revolver which Hunt admitted holding.

A trial was called to sentence Hunt. At this time he pleaded self defense. P.J.McAtee offered testimony that agreed.

Authorities thought the case was to an end and the body which had remained unburied at the Vincent Furniture Company where burial headquarters for Montpelier was located at the time, would finally be buried. In an effort to locate the next of kin for the man, pictures and addresses of people located on his body were used. There were three different women. One had lived in Montpelier and moved to Preston, one was from Bancroft and one was in Kemmerer. Each woman when contacted, claimed the dead man was her husband. Each one used a different name.

When the women learned of each other, none would assume the responsibility for burial. Finally Pete Olsen, Cokeville sheep rancher at whose camp the shooting had occurred picked up the body and returned it to Cokeville for burial as John Hunt, the last known name the dead man had used.

-from Treasured Tidbits of Time, by Jens Wilde, Providence, Utah, 1977.


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