Officials from the village of Fort Sumner issued a press release Tuesday criticizing an ongoing effort to exhume the bodies of Billy the Kid and his mother, Catherine Antrim. They characterized the action as a cheap stunt designed to further the personal interests of Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan, De Baca County Sheriff Gary Graves and Capitan Mayor Steve Seederwall.
Neither Sullivan, Graves nor Seederwall could be reached for comment Tuesday night.
Fort Sumner Mayor Raymond Lopez said despite a large amount of documented evidence that proves Billy the Kid was killed and buried in De Baca County, Sullivan, Graves and Seederwall continue to try to prove otherwise.
“What are their motives?” Lopez asked. “It appears they want to rewrite history and make themselves a part of it. Apparently, they feel they can make money from this. But who is paying the tab? The taxpayers will pay for it, on both sides.
“It’s a waste of time and money and you would think these men would spend their time doing their jobs in the communities that pay them.”
Lopez said the issue was settled in court in 1962, when 10th District Judge E. T. Kinsley Jr. found that the exact location of the graveside of Billy the Kid cannot be located because large numbers of people had been buried in the Old Fort Sumner Cemetery over the years. Kinsley also found that the attempt to dig up Billy the Kid’s body would inevitably lead to disturbing the remains of other persons buried in the cemetery.
The decision by Kinsley resulted from an effort by Lois Telfer to have the Kid’s body exhumed. Telfer claimed to be next of kin to William H. Bonney, also known as Billy the Kid.
Many official and personal accounts of the shooting and subsequent burial of Bonney are included in the documents supporting Lopez’s statement, according to the press release from the village of Fort Sumner.
Lopez said he is especially concerned about the involvement of Graves in the effort to exhume Bonney, because on Sept. 25 the De Baca County Commission approved a resolution supporting Fort Sumner’s stand against exhuming the Kid’s body.