Real Name: Frederick W. Loring, Mollie Sheppard (possibly survived), William G. Salmon, Frederick Sholom, "Dutch" John Lance (the driver), Peter Hamel, Charles Adams, William Kruger (survived)
Case: Historical Event
Date: November 5, 1871
Location: Wickenburg, Arizona
Details: On November 5, 1871, fifteen Yavapai Indians allegedly attacked and killed six passengers on the Wickenburg Stagecoach westbound for San Bernadino, California on the La Paz road. One of the victims was Frederick Loring, a famous writer from Boston. Survivor William Kruger carried Mollie Sheppard to safety, but she apparently died of an infection months later. When questioned about the attack, Kruger claimed that at least fifteen Yavapai Indians attacked them as they were coming through the area. One of the passengers attempted to confront the Indians but was then shot and scalped. Kruger claimed that he and several other passengers tried to shoot back at their assailants but were unsuccessful. Eventually, he and Sheppard were able to escape. Evidence both circumstantial and conflicted led the Territorial Army to attack a band of Apache-Mojave Indians at the Dale Creek Reservation in retaliation, but many of the details pertaining to the incident remain a mystery.
Tracks found around the scene of the shooting showed that the assailants were walking towards the Dale Creek Reservation, but then abruptly turned away from it towards Wickenburg. Some historians believe that this meant that the true assailants were trying to frame the Indians. By most accounts, the Yavapai Indians were a peaceful group; many could not believe that they were responsible for the massacre. Historians also noted that ammunition, livestock, and blankets were left behind on the stagecoach, even though in previous attacks by Indians, these items were all taken. Also, bags of U.S. mail had been opened along with the letters inside them, which is something that Indians would apparently never do during an attack.
Several theories have been put forth as to who may have actually caused the Wickenburg massacre. One theory is that Mexican bandits, disguised as Apaches, attacked the stagecoach. Another theory is that Kruger and Sheppard were actually responsible for the attack in an attempt to rob the other passengers. Some investigators believed that Kruger's story of the attack did not make sense. It was determined that Kruger's weapon that he was carrying had never been fired. One researcher, Jeff Hammond, believes that Kruger and Sheppard hired the Apaches to assist in the attack. He believes that Kruger shot several of the other passengers from inside the stagecoach and later switched guns with one of the victims. Jeff also noted that Kruger's wounds were minor compared to the other victims. He theorizes that there was a shipment of gold on the stagecoach and that after the shooting, Kruger and Sheppard buried the gold nearby. Jeff believes that Kruger was planning to come back a few days later to retrieve the gold, but he was unable to do so because of the national interest in the massacre.
After the massacre, records on Mollie Sheppard are unavailable. Kruger claimed that she died from her wounds in 1872, but no evidence has been found to support this. Kruger was last heard from in 1884 when he attempted to sue the government for money he had lost during the massacre. To this day, there is still debate as to who was truly responsible for the Wickenburg Massacre.
Extra Notes: The case ran on the April 12, 1996 episode.