IDAHO COUNTY FREE
THURSDAY, JULY 5,
SNAKE RIVER MAN
FOUND MURDERED; HOUSE IS BURNED
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
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.