Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Did Butch Cassidy Escape Bolivia To Die In Spokane Washington?

For years there have been those who claim that Robert Leroy Parker, also known as Butch Cassidy, bearing a striking resemblance to the late Paul Newman, was not killed in a shootout in Bolivia in 1908.

The Butch Cassidy Bolivian Death naysayers insist Butch managed to escape the Bolivian Cavalry, changed his name to William T. Phillips, moved to Spokane, where he worked as a machinist, living 29 years past his alleged Bolivian death, to die in 1937.

How Butch and Sundance met their end has always had an element of mystery attached to it. Mystery or myth.

What historians generally agree on is that Robert Leroy Parker was born in Beaver, Utah in 1866. The Parkers were a Mormon family, with 13 kids, of which Butch was the oldest. Butch Cassidy's first bank holdup took place high in the mountains of Colorado, in Telluride. After that Butch holed up with cattle rustlers in Johnson County in Wyoming at a place that came to be known as the Hole in the Wall. Butch moved on before the start of the infamous 1892 Johnson County War between homesteader and cattle barons.

After Butch left Johnson County he was caught by the law, serving a year and a half in the Wyoming Territorial Prison in Laramie. Butch's crime was being in possession of three stolen horses. After Butch got out of prison he spent the next 20 years holding up banks and trains with the Sundance Kid and the Hole in the Wall Gang.

And now a rare books collector claims he has a manuscript with provides fresh evidence that Robert Leroy Parker survived Bolivia and moved to Spokane, where, as William T. Phillips, he penned a 200 page tale titled "Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy." This manuscript is dated as having been written in 1934 and is twice as long as a previous known iteration written by William T. Phillips.

In 1991 what were believed to be the bones of Butch Cassidy and Harry Longabaugh, also known as the Sundance Kid, were exhumed from their resting place in San Vicente, Bolivia. DNA testing proved the bones were not those of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

"Bandit Invincible" claims that the Sundance Kid did die in the shootout with the Bolivian Calvary. Butch somehow managed to escape and make his way to France where he had appearance altering plastic surgery in Paris. Eventually Butch made his way back to America to Wyoming to reunite with his old girlfriend. "Bandit Invincible" does not identify the old girlfriend as Etta Place.

William T. Phillips had no offspring. Phillips was cremated. So, there is no known DNA to test against any known Butch Cassidy DNA.

So, was Spokane, Washington the final hideout for Butch Cassidy? Seems like no one can say for sure, though there are plenty of skeptics, along with plenty who think there is a lot of evidence that William T. Phillips is Butch Cassidy.

My best guess is the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid got it right. Butch and Sundance died in Bolivia. I am often wrong.

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