DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Johnny Ringo (aged 32)
US criminal and gunfighter
John Peters Ringo (May 3, 1850 – July 13, 1882)—known as Johnny Ringo—was an American Old Westoutlaw loosely associated with the Cochise County Cowboys in frontier Tombstone, Cochise County, Arizona Territory, United States. He took part in the Mason County War during which he committed his first murder. He was arrested and charged with murder, but escaped from jail. He was affiliated with Cochise County Sheriff Johnny Behan, Ike Clanton, and Frank Stilwell during 1881–1882. He got into a confrontation in Tombstone with Doc Holliday and was suspected by Wyatt Earp of having taken part in the attempted murder of Virgil Earp and the ambush and death of Morgan Earp.
DEATH: On July 14, 1882, Ringo’s body was found lying against the trunk of a large tree in West Turkey Creek Valley, near Chiricahua Peak in Arizona Territory. A neighboring property owner heard a single gunshot on the afternoon of July 13 and discovered Ringo’s body the following day. His feet were wrapped in strips of cloth torn from his undershirt, probably because his horse had gotten loose from its picket and bolted with his boots tied to the saddle—a method commonly used at that time to keep scorpions out of them. There was a bullet hole in his right temple and an exit wound at the back of his head. His revolver had one round expended and was found hanging by one finger in his hand. His horse was found two miles away with his boots still tied to the saddle. A coroner’s inquest officially ruled his death a suicide.
Ringo’s body is buried near the base of the tree where it was discovered. The grave is located on private land and permission is needed to visit the site.Despite the coroner’s ruling, and contemporaneous newspaper reports that “[Ringo had] frequently threatened to commit suicide, and that the event was expected at any time”, alternative theories about Ringo’s cause of death, of varying plausibility, have been proposed over the years by researchers and amateur enthusiasts.