M.R. Hibbs, Shot in Back of Head by Insane Prospector Who Also Kills Self

The body of M.R. Hibbs, 70, and one of the picturesque old time cowmen left in Idaho county, was discovered by his daughter, Mrs. Lenora Barton, lying dead beside the few fire blackened remnants of his ranch home last Saturday afternoon in the Seven Devils region on Snake River, supposedly a victim of heart failure.

Mrs. Barton of Imnaha, Oregon, had made the trip for her annual visit with her father by car and then by a 16 mile horseback trip alone, to her fatherís ranch located in one of the most inaccessible and wild districts remaining in the west, from the Oregon side of the river to make the shocking discovery.  Mrs. Barton dropped the packs from two pack horses that she had brought with her and immediately rode back down the river four miles to the home of L.W. Wilson, living on the Oregon side, for help.

Mr. Wilson and neighbors proceeded at once to the scene of the fire, and discovered on arrival, that Mr. Hibbs had been shot from behind, and found the few charred bones of another body lying in the remains of the burned log ranch house.  The weapon used for the killing, an old model Colt 44-40 caliber revolver, belonging to Hibbs, was lying alongside the few remains of the burned body in the house.

Idaho county authorities were notified at once by telephone via Pittsburg Landing, and Sheriff Walter Altman, and Coroner Geo. Trenary, of Kooskia, left early Sunday morning for the scene.  The officials drove by car as far up Rapid river as the Silver Creek Ranger station and then transferred to horses for the 20 mile, hazardous ride over the Seven Devils trail to the ranch.  From the Heavens Gate forest reserve lookout, they were guided by the forestry lookout man, around and over the Seven Devils region and down to the ranch on the river.

At Dry Diggins, eight miles from the river, the officials contacted a forest reserve telephone line crew, who informed them that Mr. Hibbs had passed thru on his way back to the ranch fro Riggins with supplies the previous Monday.  Mr. Hibbs had eaten lunch with them at the camp and had mentioned that his son, Earl Hibbs, had gone to Pullman, Wash., about June 18th to visit with friends and to spend the Fourth, and that an eccentric prospector, Joe Anderson of Flagstaff, Arizona, prospecting in that region had been secured by his son to stay with him during his sonís absence, and to repay back with labor some provisions that the prospector had borrowed.  This information was later verified by a telephone conversation with Earl Hibbs.

With the information collected from the telephone crew it was easy for the sheriff and coroner upon their arrival to reconstruct the crime as it had apparently happened.  From the condition and position of the body it was determined that Mr. Hibbs had been killed shortly after his arrival at the ranch.  He apparently had unpacked his pack horses, and was unsaddling his saddle pony, when the murderer from a position about 20 feet to his rear and from the house, had fired at him with the revolver.  The bullet had entered the heavy Stetson hat just above and behind the right ear and came out above the left eye thru the hat band.  The unfortunate man was killed instantly from all indications and his hat lay as mute evidence to the excellence of the killerís aim.  The murderer then evidently becoming aware of the consequences of the act entered the house, set it afire, and had then committed suicide, his body being consumed in the burning cabin.  The supposition is that the prospector had become angered at Mr. Hibbs, or had suddenly become crazed by something and had vented his anger on the rancher.

Neighbors of Mr. Hibbs were at the ranch when the officials arrived, and the bodies were turned over to them by Coroner Trenary.  That of Hibbs was transported by pack horse and automobile to Enterprise, Oregon where  ?? will take place.





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