Mysterious murder still haunts the old jail

Andrea Justice/Arizona Silver Belt In November 1909, a three-story jail was built of reinforced poured concrete, located directly behind the courthouse. Today work continues to restore the old jail for visiting tours.

The most documented and sensationalized event to ever occur at the old Gila County Jail was the mysterious and unsolved murder of Kingsley Olds, suspected of drowning two young girls. The event dates back over 100 years, to a time when the newly built Gila County Jail was under the direction of Sheriff John “Rimrock Henry” Thompson.

Brutal crime discovered near horseshoe bend; man is shot, two girls missing

-June 25, 1911

The story begins with Kingsley Olds, found lying on the rocks unconscious with his entire jaw torn away due to a gunshot wound. Olds was found by Sam Beard, a cowboy who operated a ranch near Horseshoe Bend, a spot that lies along the Salt River, 22 miles from Globe. Nearby, Beard found a boulder covered in blood along with the clothing and hats of Myrtle and LuLu Goswick, ages 12 and 14.

Olds worked for the girls’ father, Wesley Goswick, and was sent out accompanied by the girls on a mission for machinery parts.

Before lapsing into unconsciousness Olds had written a note saying “he was shot by an Indian or a Mexican” and to look for the girls by the mules, which had been harnessed for two days.

While Olds had been found, the girls remained missing.

Slain girls’ bodies found

LuLu and Myrtle Goswick slain and thrown into the Salt River

-June 25, 1911

Later that same day the Daily Arizona Silver Belt released an extra edition to update the story that the slain Goswick girls’ bodies were recovered. The Silver Belt stated, “Persons who visited the scene of the tragedy at Horseshoe Bend, assert that it is hardly possible to conceive of anyone but Olds having been responsible for the murder of the two girls as there were found no tracks of anyone on the banks of the river except those of Olds and the two girls. It is said that Olds is mentally unbalanced.”

Lynching of Goswick girls’ accused slayer prevented

Kingsley Olds insists on his innocence despite evidence

Mystery surrounds case

-June 27, 1911

Rumors circulated in Globe that friends of the slain girls had planned to take Olds by force from the hospital and lynch him. However, due to the craze of excitement surrounding the murder, Sheriff Thompson and Deputy Hayes secretly removed Olds and placed him in the county jail, where “deputies with Winchesters stood guard over the prisoner throughout the night.”

Accused slayer of two girls admits he shot himself

-June 30, 1911

Kingsley Olds then admitted that he shot himself in the face, an attempt to commit suicide. His confession in writing was quoted verbatim in the Daily Arizona Silver Belt. “I had not been feeling well for some time, so I went and laid down on the quilt. Left the girls bathing. So I got up off the quilt and went over where I thought they was in the sand. Could not find them. I became insane. I ran over the river and rather than return home I shot myself, but after I did became lifeless for some time, but when I came to I could not get to my gun anymore.”

Olds held directly responsible deaths of the two Goswick girls

Accused slayer sees “ghosts” of alleged victims

-July 1, 1911

After examining the footprints by the river, the coroner’s jury found that Kingsley Olds had chased the girls into a deep pool, where they drowned.

Olds had apparently been seeing the “ghosts” of the girls in his cell. Olds reported that “they were calling him to come to them.” It was believed that Olds’ seeing these suspected apparitions was an indication of his guilt.

Olds shot by hidden assassin

Slain through bars as he lay in his cell

-July 4, 1911

Kingsley Olds was shot and killed in his cell at 4:20 a.m. on July 3, 1911 by an unknown assassin using a 30-40 Winchester rifle. On a rainy night, the assassin crept into the Gila County Courthouse using keys that were stolen from the janitor’s closet, and using the Judge’s bathroom as his positioning point, made “A shot in the dark” 25 feet to the cell  that housed Olds. The bullet passed through the bars and into Olds’ shoulder. It moved downward through the lungs and caused almost instant death.

A mill man that worked at the concentrator, Peter Collins, witnessed a dark figure slowly fleeing the courthouse steps at 4:25 a.m., but due to his intoxicated state his statement held no ground. The murder of Kingsley Olds remains unsolved.

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