In March 1889, four men robbed the Atlantic Pacific train near Canyon Diablo. The robbers were eventually caught in what became an epic manhunt that lasted nearly two and a half weeks, and covered a reported 300 miles. The robbery also served as the first test case for a new Arizona law making train robbery a capital offense. The bandits eventually pled guilty, but were not sentenced to death. Instead, they received sentences ranging from twenty-five to thirty years. This presentation examines the Canyon Diablo robbery, the subsequent manhunt, and explains why the bandits were not executed for their crime.
Paul Hietter currently serves as a history professor and the chair of the Social Sciences Department at Mesa Community College. He received his Ph.D. in history from Arizona State University and has published a number of articles and book reviews on his area of specialization, crime and criminal justice in frontier Arizona and the West. Hietter has been a member of the Arizona Humanities Speakers Bureau for more than 10 years and is excited to continue sharing his knowledge and passion with Arizonans statewide.