by Kerry Ross Boren
In 1913 a man named Rafael Lopez became the object of one of Utah's greatest manhunts. When the manhunt ended, Lopez had killed half a dozen men and then disappeared, never to be heard of again. Where he came from and where he went has remained one of the greatest and most elusive mysteries of Utah's history; but here, for the first time, the full story of Lopez can be told.
Rafael Lopez was not just an ordinary Mexican. He came from a prominent family in the province of Chihuahua, where he was born in about 1886. His father was General Martin Lopez, who rose to power during the Mexican revolution to become second in command to Pancho Villa.
While still in his teens, Rafael was sent with a younger brother to live with relatives in New Mexico, where they worked in the mines. The Valdez family lived nearby, and Juan Valdez, who was near the same age as Rafael, worked next to him in the mines. When the mines shut down for a long term, Juan Valdez induced Lopez' younger brother to accompany him back to Mexico to look for other work. Valez returned some time later alone, and he was unable to give a satisfactory account of the young Lopez' disappearance.
The Lopez family suspected foul play and Rafael Lopez set out to retrace the pair's route. In Mexico he discovered evidence that his brother had been murdered and Juan Valdez was the likely suspect. Valdez had meanwhile disappeared and Lopez Lopez set out on his trail, determined to be avenged of his brother's death. Knowing Valdez to be a miner, Rafael Lopez determined to hang around the mines throughout the western states in the hopes of encountering his brother's killer.
However, somewhere along the way, Rafael Lopez ran afoul of the law. it appears to have begun when Lopez found employment in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, after which Cody convinced the youth to purchase a small ranch in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming, not far from his own. According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune of December 1913, he had shot a man in a fight and had done some jail time. Thereafter, Rafael Lopez was a man to be reckoned with.
Calling himself "Red" Lopez, Rafael organized a gang of bank robbers, several of whom were of the lef t-over remnant of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. His two lieutenants were a Chicago crook, "Jap" Farrar, who had served several sentences for forgery, and who had great gifts of mimicry; and a New York black man named Sam Plummer, noted for his whistling and his prowess with a gun. This unholy trio one day encountered another man who would soon play an integral role in Lopez' life and fate.
Jack Harley was a spontaneous, impetuous, passionate and frequently violent Irishman. While he himself had been born in London, his parents were Dubliners. Tall, athletic, with red, curly hair, he had gone to a good school and, in deference to his father's wish, was an accountant and office clerk until he was twenty-five. one day he discovered that the girl of his dreams had eyes for another and he exploded at everyone around him - including the manager of the bank where he worked - and took steerage for New York.
On board the ship, and old bo'sun convinced him to go to sea, and for the next few years he went from ship to ship in his quest to see the world. H. Ashton-Wolfe, a noted world traveler and author first met Harley at Marseilles, France, when the burly Irishman saved him in a brawl in a seedy waterfront cafe, and later decked a greasy Greek who was molesting Ashton- Wolfe in the street. Harley accompanied his new friend to Barcelona, Spain, where he shipped out again to sea.
In 1898, Jack Harley went with a partner to Alaska to prospect for gold, but after a year's hard work the partner disappeared with the gold. Laboring with pick and shovel on other miner's claims for pay, he soon tired of the routine and went back to sea. On board the ship, Harley made an enemy of the ship's first mate, who goaded him unmercifully. Harley through him down an open hatchway and broke his arm, and was immediately put into irons. When the ship docked at San Francisco, he was sentenced to twelve months' hard labor for mutiny and grievously wounding a ship's officer.
At San Quentin Prison Harley's cell-mate was Jap Farrar, who was nearing the end of a long sentence for forgery. They worked at the same job in the same prison-shed and developed a passing friendship.
Released at the end of a year, Harley determined to start a new life where no one knew him, and traveled to Denver, Colorado. Having a background in banking, he sought employment in the city's principal bank a day after his arrival. As it happened, he saved the bank manager from some rough handling at the hands of some drunken cowboys, and thereby ingratiated himself. He told the bank manager of his trouble on the ship and, in spite of it, was hired as a clerk. In a short time he worked his way up to become cashier and confidential secretary to the manager.
Jack Harley also fell in love. The girl, Fay Walters, a pretty young orphan, was also employed at the bank, and before too long she agreed to become his wife. They decided to be married when Harley became head-cashier the following year.
Then one day into the bank walked Rafael Lopez and Jap Farrar. They came up to his counter and asked to cash a check, but in reality Farrar wanted to be certain that he had recognized the cashier in the street a day earlier as his old cell-mate at San Quentin. Now convinced, Lopez set about exacting a devious plan.
Lopez, posing as a wealthy cattleman, had come to Denver with intentions of robbing the bank, and had taken up residence in the boarding house where Fay Walters had lived for three years. Fancying himself a ladies' man, Lopez decided to kill two birds with one stone -rob the bank and abduct the girl. Jack Harley's sudden appearance merely offered a new opportunity.
Some days later, Lopez sent out two letters, both clever forgeries concocted by Farrar. One letter, ostensibly in the handwriting of Fay Walters, was delivered to Jack Harley; it implored him to come as soon as possible to their favorite grove of trees not far from town. The letter was vague, but hinted at some sort of trouble which would be explained to him when he arrived. When he inquired after Fay, he learned that she, too, had received a letter earlier, and had rushed out, pale and agitated.
As soon as the bank closed, Harley headed for the woods where he thought his lady in distress would be waiting. He stopped in a clearing and listened; he thought he heard her voice coming from a thicket. He called loudly. Instantly a blanket fell over his head, and he was carried away by strong arms. At last he was thrown down on a hard, rocky floor.
From the hollow sound, he surmised that he was in the Hogan, a cave which he had visited once or twice with his sweetheart, and through which rushed an underground stream. When he tried to move and release his bonds, a thick, Negro voice warned him to lie still. Fay had been trapped in the same manner, but she had been taken to the camp of the outlaws. This day had been chosen because a large consignment of money was to be sent East that evening, and Harley was one of the few banks officials who knew about it; yet, somehow, Rafael Lopez learned of it.
At 11:45 p.m. that night, the East-bound train, carrying several hundred thousand dollars in gold and notes, had been derailed, the guards shot, and the express car smashed by dynamite, and the money carried away by masked outlaws. Both the engineer and a bank official had managed to escape by feigning death after being brutally clubbed. The bandits fired a fusillade at the passengers before riding away.
The city of Denver was in an uproar. Police surrounded the bank and detectives scoured the woods, stopping and searching all cars and wagons. The chief of police questioned the robbery victims and elicited their story. Fred Mason, the engineer, reported that as soon as he felt the train bumping he shut off stream and applied the brakes. The train tore up a hundred yards of embankment and came to a stop lying on its side. Shaken and bruised, Mason climbed out of the engine and walked back to the rear cars, which were still standing. Suddenly he was confronted by the masked outlaws who were already fighting with the guards of the express car. The four guards were callously shot and thrown down the embankment.
The robbers had then attacked the express car and one of the robbers was overheard to call another "Jack." A tall, muscular man with a mask over his face came up, carrying an acetylene torch, followed by two others packing the oxyacetylene cylinders. Mason noticed that when one of the outlaws stumbled and knocked the hat off the head of the man named Jack, he had curly red hair.
Moreover, the bank messenger stated that he had recognized Jack Harley's voice and told him so, and got cracked in the mouth for it. It was this same man, said the messenger, who called for the use of dynamite because the acetylene was too slow. The messenger dragged the engineer away just as the express door blew off, and from where they lay, they could see the sealed bags being thrown from the car by a dozen men in a line, then they rode off, shooting as they went.
Meanwhile, Jack Harley was tied up back in the cave - the Hogan. He managed to free himself about dawn and started walking along the road back to town when he was confronted by a posse from Georgetown led by Sheriff "Big" Simmons. Harley was surprised to find himself under arrest. He convinced the sheriff to hold him long enough for two posse-men to ride back to thee cave and retrieve the blanket and ropes from which he had escaped. When they returned, they reported that they found nothing.
Harley was thrown into jail at Denver and protected from an irate mob who would have lynched him. After many weeks, nothing more was discovered of the robbers, nor was there any word about the whereabouts of Fay Walters. In due course, Harley was brought to trail, which lasted six days, and at the end of which he was found guilty. Because the evidence against him was mostly circumstantial, he was given a life sentence. He entered prison as prisoner c.4.30.
In prison, Jack Harley became sullen, silent, and desperate. Each night, before he went to sleep, his Irish-brogue could be heard at prayer in the dark, always saying the same words: "God in Heaven or Satan in Hell, let me live to meet the med who did this, and grant me that I may lay hands on them! " He trained every day in his cell to keep himself in shape for that hoped-for final meeting.
Then one day, by a stroke of ironic fate, a new batch of prisoners were herded in, and among them was Jap Farrar. Moreover, Farrar was assigned to be Harley's cell-mate! As soon as they were alone, Farrar begged for his life. Harley promised to give him a reprieve if he would confess all that had happened.
Jap Farrar admitted that is had been himself who imitated Harley on the day of the robbery, wearing a red wig and mimicking his Irish brogue. He revealed that the boss of the operation had been Rafael "Red" Lopez.
Fay Walters was dead, Farrar told Harley. After she was brought to the camp in the mountains, Fay fought with Lopez. Realizing the fate that was awaiting her, she had managed to acquire a knife which Farrar had carelessly laid aside and, when Lopez came near her, she stabbed him. The wound was only a scratch, but Lopez was infuriated. He ordered her to run, and when she did so, he shot her six times in the back.
Harley now wanted vengeance even more than before. Farrar, facing a ten-year sentence for a robbery which Lopez had turned him in for pulling, offered to help, hoping not only to save himself from Harley's wrath, but to elicit his aid in an escape. He informed Harley that he knew where Lopez was to be found holed up with some crooked Mormons in Utah. Moreover, Farrar had an escape plan.
On "A" block at the Canon City, Colorado prison there was guard, one Collins by name, whose twin brother Luke had been killed by Lopez in Montana. Collins promised to assist them to escape if he could accompany them to exact revenge upon Lopez.
Collins planned their escape. He smuggled weapons, files and keys to them and he selected a day for the escape when he was to go off duty as soon as the men were in their cells. Harley and Farrar were able to open their cell door and creep stealthily along the passage to a small gate leading onto the grounds, which they also opened with a key. They hid temporarily in a work shed until the guards had passed on their appointed rounds along the outer walls. Farrar had some money from a robbery hidden away in the house where he had been caught, and Collins had retrieved it.
As soon as the guards had passed, Collins came and unlocked the work- shed and together they ran and retrieved a ladder hidden in some rubbish and placed it against the highest and last wall. They scrambled up. Harley was barely atop the wall when they were spotted and shots rang out. Farrer was shot in the stomach and Harley reached down and held him from falling off the ladder, but the wounded man begged the beg Irishman to let him drop and save himself. "Kill Lopez, Jack," he begged - "kill him!" He fell down into the arms of Collins.
Collins, wearing his uniform, bought a little time by shouting in a loud voice: "I'm after them - this way!" and ran up the rungs of the ladder to where Harley waited. They pulled the ladder up and dropped it to the ground on the other side and were quickly down. Guards came out of the main gate shooting as they ran, but the two men were soon mounted and away.
Farrer, mortally wounded, was carried into the accident ward of the infirmary. Before he died he swore and signed a statement, clearing Jack Harley. Meanwhile, Harley and Collins had taken refuge that night in a shack in the woods some ten miles away where Collins secluded clothes, dyes and other items for disguise. Before the passes could catch up to them, Harley and Collins were on their way to Utah, and their destiny with Rafael Lopez.
They were long months in Salt Lake City, however, before they discovered any sign of Lopez, and they nearly abandoned hope of exacting their revenge. Ironically, it needn't have been so, for Rafael Lopez was in plain sight.
Lopez came to Bingham, Utah, a few miles southwest of Salt Lake City, during the 1912 strike of the Western Federation of Miners, and soon found employment as a strike breaker. When the abortive labor dispute ended, he remained at Bingham, gaining a reputation as a hard worker, a ladies' man, and an excellent marksman.
On July 2, 1913, Rafael Lopez rode from Bingham to Salt Lake City to join in the celebration of the up-coming Independence Day; he registered at The Cullen Hotel, signing the card as "Ralph Lopez." Calling upon his past experience with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Lopez entered the rodeo contests in the July 4, 1913 Stampede, and the Salt Lake Herald - Republican published a photo of him during a spectacular bronco ride. The feature attraction of the 1913 Stampede was Utah's own cowboy- turned- silent -western- star, Art Acord, who married his sweetheart, Edythe Sterling, in the arena. Afterwards, Acord was gored by a bull and was rushed to the hospital. After being bandaged and released, some of Art's friends took him to Lamb's Hotel and put him up in suite for his honeymoon; Rafael Lopez was one of those who accompanied them.
In the fall of 1913, Rafael Lopez and Julius Corello leased part of the workings of the Utah-Apex Mining Company at Bingham. By taking ore from the abandoned upper stopes, the pair netted from twenty to forty dollars per day.
Then everything began to happen at once to Lopez. Deputy Julius Sorenson of Bingham arrested him for disturbing the peace, for which he was sentenced to thirty days in jail. Lopez protested his innocence and also his hatred for Sorenson, and friends of Lopez claimed that he was arrested and mistreated (Lopez claimed Sorenson beat him while he was shackled) because he was a Mexican half breed (his mother being Indian) . They claimed further that when arrested he had actually been protecting two girls from a pair of Greeks that threatened them. After another brush with the law following this, Lopez felt he was being persecuted, and he warned the officers - especially Sorenson - to leave him alone.
Some time around November 15, 1913, Lopez nearly met his end, and Harley and Collins nearly succeeded in exacting their revenge. Both men were nearly convinced that Lopez had left the state, and were about to do so themselves, when they attended a popular dance hall one night. A big black man climbed onto a
table and gave a whistling solo. Harley immediately recognized him as the man who had held him captive in the cave. Harley and Collins decided to follow him when he left the dive, hoping he would lead them to Lopez.
The intoxicated black man left the dance hall late, in the company of several other men, and Harley and Collins followed them on a circuitous route which eventually led to a broken down shack on the edge of the Great Salt Lake, near Black Rock. When the Negro approached the door he whistled a signal, a panel in the door opened, a few words were exchanged, and the bolt was drawn and the men were permitted to enter. Harley and Collins, their Colt's automatics at ready, discussed what should be done. If they rushed the shack, a gunfight would certainly ensue, and they were not yet certain that Lopez was inside. They decided to watch the shack until they were sure.
It didn't take long to confirm. The next day Collins, who had the watch, saw Lopez in an upper-story window. The Negro and his companions had left the shack on some mission, for they took packs with them. The time for action had arrived.
They had noted that the windows on the ground level of the lakeside shack were nailed up with planks, so Harley decided to take ropes and a large hook and enter through an upper window, after wedging the door - which opened outwards to prevent escape. To avoid detection, Harley and Collins approached the shack at night by boat, since the shack was situated on the lakeshore. Both men carried pistols, but Harley also packed a shot-gun loaded with buckshot, and he had also stuffed a handful of cartridges into his pocket.
From the water they could watch both the front and the back of the shack, and they waited long nervous hours until it was pitch dark. Then they tied their boat to an old, broken landing dock and stealthily approached the house. The wedges, which had been greased on one side, were quickly placed under the door. At the third cast, the hook caught on a ledge and the two men scrambled up the rope. The window was not locked and they entered an empty room.
Creeping silently through the house, they heard voices in a front room and took a position where they could watch without being seen. Rafael Lopez was seated at a table, puffing on a cigar, and playing cards with two other men. At that moment, something had enraged him, and he was pounding the table with his fist and spitting curses at his partners. It was the moment Harley chose to make an entrance into the room, followed closely by Collins.
Harley ordered Lopez to throw up his hands. For a moment the three men looked bewildered by this sudden appearance of two armed men; then Lopez suddenly knocked the lamp off the table with the sweep of his hand, then up- ended the table as a shield, shouting for his companions to "Bore them, boys!"
At once red flashes lit up the darkness and the roar of guns filled the room. Harley and Collins took protection behind door posts. Harley had brought two electric flashlights and they had an advantage by shining them at the men in the dark room, but it also revealed their own location.
Harley saw Lopez peering out from behind the table at one point, trying to take aim. Instantly, Harley fired both barrels of the shot-gun and Lopez let out a horrified scream. The muscular Mexican lifted the table by the legs and hurled it at Collins and in the same motion seized Harley's gun by the barrel and jerked it from his grasp. The next thing he knew, Lopez had him in a tremendous bone-crushing bear-hug. Harley broke out of it briefly and struck Lopez, but the Mexican again threw his arms around the Irishman, and together they rolled down the stairs, Lopez screaming and biting like an animal. Meanwhile, Collins shot one of the men, but was himself wounded in the thigh. The second man suddenly escaped by leaping through a window. Collins hobbled down the stairs to help his friend Harley against the attack of Lopez.
Harley had managed to get to his feet just as the raging Lopez rushed him again. The shot-gun blast had struck Lopez in the neck and one cheek, and he was bleeding profusely. Harley pulled his pistol, placed it against Lopez' body, and fired. With a dreadful how, Lopez lunged forward, and as Harley was about to fire again, the Mexican kicked the pistol away, nearly breaking Harley's arm in the process. Helpless, Harley felt himself being picked up bodily and hurled at his wounded friend Collins. They both went down so hard they crazed by his own wounds, crashed through the door, splintering it into pieces. The next thing Harley heard was a big splashing plunge into the lake.
As Harley and Collins staggered to their feet a dozen armed policemen rushed in. Harley shouted: "Quick - the boat! That's Rafael Lopez - wanted for a dozen murders. After him!"
The policemen rushed out and piled into the police boat, which had been passing just as the shooting had begun; but, although they patrolled the shoreline, Lopez had managed to reach land and escape.
Lopez' wounds, though painful, were not grievous, and in a few days there was little indication that he had suffered any harm. The man hunt had diminished for there was no serious charge against him, and the police had more pressing problems. On November 19, there was a shooting in the Japanese colony, and the police turned their attentions in that direction. By this time, Rafael Lopez was back at Bingham, acting as though nothing was amiss.
On November 20, 1913, Lopez was walking down the trail from the Utah- Apex mine with another Mexican, Julius Corello, arguing Mexican politics, when a third man joined the group - Juan Valdez. It is probable that Lopez knew his old enemy worked at the mine and it was just as likely that this was the only reason Lopez worked there. He was awaiting an opportunity and on this day it presented itself.
When Valdez joined the heated discussion, Lopez went into a dramatic bent and threatened the man he was arguing politics with. As he suspected, Valdez interfered and made the mistake of calling Lopez a coward. Lopez turned on Valdez, who drew a knife. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Lopez never drew his gun, but fired at Valdez through his coat pocket, killing the man instantly. Lopez then hurried to the house where he boarded, gathered up his rifle, cartridges, clothing, and food, and set out over the snow-covered mountains to the southeast.
Two Mexicans, one of whom claimed to have been employed years before by the Lopez family, told officers about Lopez' motive. They revealed that Juan Valdez had murdered Lopez' brother many years before, and that Lopez had found his brother's charred bones several months later. Others said that both men were in love with Olvida Ocariz, a young girl who lived where Lopez boarded.
The next morning a four man posse, led by Bingham Chief of Police J.W. Grant, began following the fugitives tracks in the snow. The trail led south through the Copper Hills into Utah County, near the northwest side of Utah Lake. At dusk, the small posse began searching the underbrush at the E.B. Jones ranch, some twenty miles from Bingham. Without a warning, three shots rang out. Chief Grant, Deputy Otto Witbeck, and Special Deputy Nephi S. Jensen tumbled from their horses. Grant died instantly, and the two deputies lived only a short time. Lopez' fourth cartridge was defective and jammed, thus saving the life of Lopez' old enemy, Julius Sorenson. Sorenson quickly rode back to Bingham to spread the news.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Andrew J. Smith came down to direct the manhunt, setting up headquarters in the hotel at Mosida, a small farming community (now a ghost town) . A scare went out, as residents of Utah County locked their doors and prayed. In Salt Lake City, police arrested fifty-four Mexicans on the streets and had them jailed for vagrancy. Soon a large force of police, local residents, reporters, volunteer searchers and the morbidly curious descended upon the area. Among the volunteers was Jack Harley and Collins, the latter staved up from his wound, but determined to be present when Lopez was run to ground.
The next morning more than a dozen pursuit parties set out on the trail of Lopez, none of them too enthusiastic to face the Mexican's deadly rifle. Some deputies remained in their automobiles, searching the thick brush with binoculars. One of the members of a pursuit party was Bertrand E. Gallagher, who related an amusing tale illustrating the great fear of Lopez.
The man leading Gallagher's group suddenly stopped and raised his rifle to take aim at a rabbit. His companions thought he had spotted Lopez, and dove for cover. one man fell backward over a rock, striking himself in the mouth with the butt of his rifle, loosening several teeth. When the leader of the group turned around and saw his comrades fleeing, he assumed they' had spotted Lopez, and ran after them.
The next morning, a search party climbed a rocky ridge in the Lake Mountains, on the west side of Utah Lake, and was suddenly showered with gunfire. The posse-men, now numbering more than 100 men, returned fire. During a lull in the gunfight, Lopez yelled that he was cold and lonely, but that he wished he could get a shot at Sorenson - that would make it all worthwhile.
The posse-men stayed hidden throughout the day, awaiting reinforcements which did not arrive until nightfall. The next morning - after Sheriff Smith announced that he had Lopez surrounded - the massive force proceeded up the hill, only to discover that Lopez had slipped through the lines during the night. The tracks in the snow were irregular and bloody; Lopez had worn out his boots and had frozen his feet. He appeared to be heading south. He had obtained tobacco and food from two sheepherders. Several false alarms filtered in from towns in southern Utah that Lopez had been spotted, still heading south, and many believed he was on his way to Mexico. The manhunt was temporarily called off.
On November 27th, Mike Stefano, a former friend of Lopez who lived near the portal of the Minnie tunnel of the Apex Mine at Bingham, reluctantly told mine foreman Tom Hoskins that Lopez had came to his home the night before. He said that the fugitive had taken a large quantity of groceries and bedding and had exchanged his 44.40 rifle for Stefano's 30-30 and forty rounds of ammunition. He had warned Stefano to tell no one of his visit upon penalty of death. Stefano stated that one of Lopez' feet had swelled to nearly twice natural size. Lopez had also instructed Stefano deliver a package of necessities later that night to the mouth of Number 2, mine. He was also to go to Julius Corrello and get money and ammunition from him and deliver it to the same place. Stefano delivered the package but Corello had refused to aid Lopez in any way.
The following morning, officers proceeded to Number 2 mine and found tracks, indicating that Lopez had picked up his package. moreover, several miners reported that a Mexican had robbed them of candles at gunpoint the night before.
There were nearly ten miles of honeycomb tunnels to the upper Apex workings, with eleven entrances between Carf Fork and Cottonwood Gulch. Lopez, in his leasing work, knew these tunnels better than anyone else.
Sheriff Smith suggested a frontal assault, launched from all entrances at the same time, but there was much discussion among the posse members who thought discretion was the better part of valor. They balked at facing Lopez' deadly aim in the darkness of the tunnels. Utah taxpayers, frightened and discouraged, clamored for action. Was one man to defy a whole state? Didn't the lawmen know that the posse was costing the people $1,000 per day? While the debate continued, at night powerful lights were trained on thee pits to prevent Lopez from creeping out unseen.
Finally a group of miners volunteered to enter the mine to go to work. They were all former acquaintances of Lopez, would be unarmed, and could reconnoiter the situation. They needed to work anyway, they said, in order to support their families. They entered and worked throughout the day, but as they were about to exit they were stopped by Lopez. He took their candles and flares, then warned them not to return or he would kill them. "Tell Sorenson," he shouted as they left the mine, "that I want to kill him most of all!"
Harley and Collins were not frightened by the prospect of encountering Lopez; in fact, they both welcomed it. They had a score to settle with the Mexican, and if they didn't act soon, the posse might beat them to it. Death was nothing, if only they could reach Lopez.
Armed with pistols and lamps, the two men advanced slowly along the main gallery. They had hardly proceeded a few yards when three shots rang out in rapid succession and Collins collapsed, shot through the head. The roar of the gunfire in the tunnel was deafenin49pead-HaKey put his hands over his ears; again the invisible Mexican fired, and the lamp in Harley's hand was broken and smashed. Dragging his dead companion with him, Harley retreated. Because Harley was still wanted by the law, he kept the incident secret from the police.
Finally, the officers decided to smoke Lopez out. They placed bales of hay at the entrances, and four men volunteered to enter the mine to set fire part way up the Andy incline. As they dragged a bale of hay up an ore chute three shots rang out in the darkness. Tom Manderich, an Austrian miner, died almost instantly. J. Douglas Hulsey, who had replaced Otto Witbeck as deputy, fell with a bullet in one lung, and he could be heard groaning for some time until he died.
. The other two men fled back to the tunnel level where they joined the main group waiting there, but Lopez continued to shoot, trapping these men in the mine. After shooting out the mine candles and waiting for two hours, they were finally able to walk back to the entrance.
Several attempts were made to remove the bodies of the victims, with no success. Twelve sharpshooters entered the mine behind a steel ore car carrying an arc light, but some of the men were too exposed, and they backed out. Several Serbians, upset by Manderich"s death, volunteered to recover the bodies, but were unsuccessful. The bodies were finally removed single-handedly by Pete Vukovich on November 30.
A huge funeral procession was held in Salt Lake City, which only caused to incite further criticism against Sheriff Smith. The populace, with complete belief, stated that Lopez could drive that law officers back to Salt Lake, capture the population, and burn the city. If one Mexican could defy the State of Utah, they said, the United States would be foolish to declare war on Mexico.
The law officers decided to fill the Apex mine so full of lethal smoke that Lopez could not survive. Two hundred and fifty men spent the night of November 30th piling fuel in all the tunnels. Large quantities of hay, cayenne pepper, oil, tar, formaldehyde, coal, and sulfur were set afire in the mine, creating gases which would fill every level and kill anyone inside.
Two hundred twenty-five miners working on the lower levels were laid off for their own safety, and heavy guards and search lights were placed at every entrance to the mine. At the last moment, Lopez' former partner, Julius Corrello, who had been under arrest since the shooting of Valdez, was brought to the mine to beg Lopez to surrender. Three miners who entered a tunnel were overcome and had to be rescued. Large crowds gathered daily in front of Salt Lake City newspaper offices to follow the story as it was telephoned from Bingham. At the latter place, betting was heavy at first that Lopez would not be found in the mine; later the betting went the other direction, that he would be found dead inside.
The fires finally smoldered and went out. Bulkheads were removed on December 6, and dense, suffocating smoke poured out of the mines. After the fumes dispersed, in a day or two, a slow search of the mine commenced. After each area had been searched, it was blocked off by guards.
Searchers found Lopez' coat and bedding in the Number 5, stope of the Andy Incline, but nothing else. At one point, footprints were found in the soot leading from a bulkhead to a dark stope. Sheriff Smith twice called out for Lopez to surrender, but receiving no response, the sheriff tossed in a dynamite bomb. The stope caved in, but when the rubble was removed several days
later, no trace of the Mexican could be found.
Miners returned to work, protected by armed guards, but every noise frightened the men in the mine. One guard, equipped with an automatic repeating shot-gun, pulled the trigger at some sound in the darkness, firing three shots into an empty tunnel, sending everyone scurrying for cover. A.G. Robinson was severely injured when he leaped into a hole that turned out to be the shaft leading to the engine room.
On December 8, Tom Karos claimed that Lopez held him up in the mine, although men who were nearby at the time stated that they saw no one. The Mexican Consul offered to enter the mine with Olvida Ocariz to plead with Lopez to surrender, and Governor William Spry offered $1,000 reward for Lopez, dead or alive.
On December 12, Apex shift boss Sam Rogers announced that he was leaving Bingham because he feared for his life, claiming to have stumbled upon Lopez underground, and trying unsuccessfully to capture him. After carefully interrogating both Karos and Rogers, authorities could not change their stories. Not long after that a crew of twenty-five Greek miners was scared out of the mine, allegedly by Lopez.
There were some who believed that Lopez had escaped the night after the shooting in the incline. The Phoenix tunnel had been unwatched for an hour that night, and the lower tunnels, though accessible only by a ladder-less 150- foot shaft, had been unguarded for two days. James Larson, who knew Lopez well, and O.E. Radtke both claimed to have seen him that night, heavily clad, with hand thrust menacingly into a pocket, sneaking down toward the Bingham and Garfield Railway depot. In the Boston Consolidated number two boarding house, a collection was taken up for the widow of a miner killed in the Frisco tunnel; later it was learned that no miner had died, and it was believed the money was used to help Lopez escape the country. A carpenter repairing a roof at Garfield suddenly went insane and threw himself to the ground, shouting that Lopez had tried to steal his tobacco.
Julius Corrello received what appeared to be a genuine letter from Lopez, which read as follows:
I don't put confidence in your being my friend, who would do such a thing like you have. But God will pay you. We will see - when we see each other again, we will settle our account. I am in Salt Lake. I have not gone because my feet are not well yet. I am in the house of one who will care for me. I think he is my friend. I told (you) not to say anything and you and the Italian (Mike Stefano) have disclosed me.
P.S. - Suffering but I don't care. I don't eat good, but I drink hot coffee. You are there, but not my fault. I might have killed two more, and if I have a chance I will kill six more.
The letter was dated December 9, and postmarked at Salt Lake City. Handwriting comparisons showed thee letter identical with samples of Lopez' other writings.
Sheriff Smith, his reputation in a shambles, announced that he planned to start the fires again, but the Utah-Apex Company, which had lost thousands of dollars because of the manhunt, vehemently objected. The sheriff then announced that he would starve Lopez out by Christmas, but the newspapers, which had carried the story in headlines for more than two weeks, paid little attention. On December 18 the story left the headlines.
At this point, the story of Rafael Lopez usually ends with the statement, "How and where Lopez died remains one of the West" s greatest mysteries." However, his fate is known, and is here told for the first time.
Jack Harley hung around Bingham until the last hope that Lopez would be f ound was exhausted. Then he returned to Salt Lake City, gathered his few belongings together, and took the Denver & Rio Grande train to Colorado. At Durango he learned that he had been pardoned. Jap Farrar had made a deathbed confession clearing him, and the bands and money stolen from the bank had been found in the house where the fight with Lopez had taken place.
But the big Irishman had lost his zest for life. He cared nothing for his life and began to place himself in dangerous situations to appease his death-wish. He drifted through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas in the company of another Irishman named Tod McClamy. McClamy, who was wanted by the law in Utah and Montana, used the alias Mike Cassidy, and operated a notorious saloon in "Hell's Half Acre" on the south side of Fort Worth. McClamy's place became Harley's hang-out for more than a year, as he tried hard to drink himself into oblivion.
The revolution was raging in Mexico. McClamy encouraged him to get involved, to give him another cause besides self-destruction. To Harley it may have been a means to the same end. He offered his services to General Ximenez, chief of the rebels. Here it was that Harley ran into his old friend, H. AshtonWolfe once more.
About this time, Jack Harley had a chance meeting with a beautiful young Spanish woman named Carmen Perez da Silva. Interest ripened into friendship and then love. Both of their natures were passionate, violent, primitive, and together they discovered that life still held promise and joy. Then, Carmen died a tragic death and Harley gave up hope for life once more - except that now he felt compelled to fight for the rebel cause which Carmen lived and died for. He threw himself into the front lines of every battle like a raging, ruthless monster.
Harley had no way of knowing that during these years as he fought with the rebels in Mexico, he was fighting on the same side and sometimes only a few miles apart from Rafael Lopez.
Lopez had made it to Mexico early in 1914 and had found employment briefly with the American Smelting and Refining Company in Chihuahua. However, with the revolution raging all around him, it was inevitable that he would be caught up in it. He joined the regiment commanded by his father, General Martin Lopez.
Duncan Jones, who, for twenty-five years, worked as a lumberman in Mexico, encountered Lopez in 1915. While he resided in Pearson, General Martin Lopez stormed into town with the four hundred mounted and well-armed men and seventy-five extra horses. The spare horses were brought along to carry off the loot.
Rafael Lopez was in charge of the looting and in this duty he was thorough and ruthless. He first raided the general store, taking virtually every item in stock; afterwards, General Lopez handed the owner a signed receipt for the goods. The Villistas continued riding up and down the streets all day, while Rafael sought out and killed every Chinese miner he could find. They killed seven during the day.
About seven-thirty that night two of Lopez' men rode up to the house of Duncan Jones where he lived with two other Americans and a Chinese cook. Jones was robbed of his silver dollars and forced to cook meals, while the Chinese cook escaped.
From Pearson the Villistas raided the Mormon colony of Colonia Juarez. Here, Lopez robbed a flour mill and even took rings off of women's fingers. Later they went on to Ascencion where General Martin Lopez was wounded in a bottle and died later from his wound.
After his father's death, Rafael Lopez was appointed by Pancho Villa to oversee the operation of the recently abandoned American Smelting and Refining plant with the help of native workers. It didn't last long. When payday came and there was no money, Lopez tried to deceive the workers with slices of bluish lead which he told them was silver. The workers were not deceived, and walked off the job.
The war raged on for one more long year. Lopez joined Pancho Villa's regular troops and fought in numerous engagements against the regime of Porfirio Diaz and later against American interests in Mexico. Jack Harley hired out as a soldier of fortune, first with one side, then with another, with little or no regard for the consequences.
Early in 1916 everything came to a head. That spring William Randolph Hearst's million acre ranch, the Babicora, in Chihuahua, was taken over and looted by the irregulars of Pancho Villa - of which Lopez was one -, one employee being killed and four held prisoner. Villa drove off 60,000 head of Hearst cattle. John C. Hayes, Hearst's manager fled to El Paso.
with the help of several American soldiers -of - fortune, which included Tracy Richardson, Tex McGraf, Tod McClamy, and Jack Harley, Hayes assembled a hundred-man army of Babicora vaqueros and sent them to recover possession of the ranch.
In mid-May 1916 the two forces clashed in a ferocious battle during which several Babicora vaqueros were killed, together with about twenty of the Villa irregulars. In the midst of this battle, Harley and Lopez came together for the first time since the manhunt in Utah. As they faced each other in the midst of the battle their mutual recognition was almost instantaneous.
They stood paralyzed with shock for a long moment, staring at each other. Witnesses to the event later described a scene reminiscent of the best Hollywood movie tradition. Lopez was armed with two pistols and two bandaleros of cartridges; Harley held an automatic pistol in one hand and a rifle in the other.
The two deadly enemies then charged at each other on foot, shouting curses at one another, and firing their weapons. Both were hit almost immediately and went down, but both arose again and continued to stumble toward each other. As their weapons emptied they were tossed aside, and at the end they fell into each other's bloody arms and pummeled one another into oblivion. With his last ounce of strength, Harley wrestled a knife out of Lopez' hand and with it cut his throat, nearly decapitating him, shouting as he did so, "This is for Fay Walters! "
Rafael Lopez was finally dead. Within moments, so was Jack Harley. Harley's old friend, Ashton-Wolfe, wrote what must be considered the big Irishman's final eulogy: " .... when they found him among the slain, a sad, queer, whimsical smile had softened the bitter lines of his mouth, and on his face was a great peace."
1 . Utah's Greatest Manhunt. The True Story of the Hunt for LoiDez by an
Eyewitness., Bertrand E. Gallagher, pamphlet, 1913.
2. The Utah Copper Enterprise, Mining & Sci Press, T.A. Rickard, 12/28/1918
The Salt Lake Tribune, 1913, (Nov - Dec)
Untitled typescript history of Lopez, (12 pp and map), Utah State Historical Society, author unknown.
The Search for Lopez, Lynn R. Bailey, Westernlore Press, 1990.
"Utah's Greatest Manhunt," George D. Wolfe, Frontier Times, Fall 1962.
Cock of The Walk (Pancho Villa), Haldeen Braddy, University of Texas Press, El Paso.
Outlaws of Modern Days, H.Ashton-Wolfe, Cassell & Co. Ltd. London
3. Interviews: Lew Williams, San Francisco, Calif. (1962) ; Haldeen Braddy, El
Paso, Texas; Isadore M. Gauchat, Utah; Lloyd Hoskins, Ancho, New Mexico;
Senora Maria Luz Corral (wife of Pancho Villa), Chihuahua City, Mexico.
4. Boren's own account of the story with may or may not be true.