Billy the Kid, Wiki Commons

Billy the Kid, Geared Up for the Day


This New York-born youth lost his father at a young age, gained a new stepdad in Colorado, and began to rack up a notorious rap sheet when his family moved to New Mexico.

History states Billy’s aliases were William H. Bonney, Jr., Henry McCarty, and Ollie L. Roberts, and that his family moved many times and went through major changes by his teen years. 



What elements helped support Billy’s descent into thievery and other crimes?


An old adage warns that the company you keep determines who you are and what your destiny will be.

Billy found other criminals like him and teamed up for increased general mayhem by joining local _ _ _ _ _ throughout the Southwest.





Billy’s escalating violence evolved to murder, and as a result he was jailed for trial in April 1881. Reorder the following sequence to show how Billy’s short life culminated on July 14, 1881.

A. Ambushed and shot dead by Sherrif Patrick Floyd Garrett.

B. Escaped jail.

C. Murdered at least 27 men.

D. Jailed and sentenced to hang.

E. Murdered two deputies.


C., D., E., B., A.


Fun Fact:

Having several aliases allows criminals to live different lives, develop different reputations, and elude the law, but it also makes it difficult to positively identify people. In 1948 an old man claiming to be Jesse James said he knew that Billy the Kid was still alive, sending investigator William V. Morrison on a fresh manhunt. In conclusion, Morrison found O.L. Roberts in Texas and began to unravel the mystery. Roberts claimed the wrong man was shot in 1881 on a dark, chaotic night. Witnesses on the scene admitted to being unsure of the dead man’s identity, therefore allowing the real Billy the Kid to go on to lead a life as a prospector, undetected for many years.



What elements prevented DNA tests from being conducted to confirm the identification of Billy’s and his mother’s remains in 2003?

A. Lack of clarity on location of actual burial sites.

B. The courts blocked the proposal to dig up remains.

C. Both of the above.




If you’d like to know more about some of the intriguing characters that shaped New Mexico history, check out the brain-teasing walking tour and scavenger hunt around the Santa Fe Plaza at DiscoverSantaFe.