What ever happened to Willie Boy.....

The true story of Willie Boy, as I heard from the Indians in my family

Willie boy's Grave Marker in White WaterWhen I was a kid my Uncle Leroy, part Paiute Indian, Part Mexican, part white, told us the story of Willie Boy.

Supposedly an uncle of his and how he led the Sheriff and his pose From Palm Canyon south of Palm Springs, up through White Water and up into the Ruby Mt area....Today you can see thousands of High Powered Wind Mills scattered through the same area.

Who was Willie Boy and is his legend true? Even a movie, "Tell them Willie boy is here" was made in 1969 with Robert Blake playing Willie Boy, and Robert Redford playing the Sheriff, and was based on a book, which I own, called 'A Desert Manhunt'

As to the legend being true, most assuredly.  Did the movie "Tell them Willie boy is here" get it right?  Aside from "Tombstone" being very close to being historically correct, this movie is very close to the actual facts, places, and characters involved in the manhunt.

Willie Boy was a Paiute Indian, uncle to my uncle Leroy Arnize, (Arnesto in Spanish) who in 1909 ran off with his lover after killing her father in self defense.  He found him bent over, beating his girlfriend, named Lola, and when he tried to interfere and stop him, Lola's father went after Willie Boy.  So he had to kill him.  The tribal elders tried to defend Willie but White Man's law took precedent over Indain Law and Sheriff Cooper was dispatched from Riverside to track him down and charge Willie Boy with murder.

Willie and Lola are hunted for several days and were almost caught in White Water when Willie's Horse spooked as a Train went by.  But White Water was dry and they were able to escape under the track trestle and make it into the Hills to the north of White Wate.  Willie Boy had a clear shot of the posse as they advanced up the river bed, so he started taking pot shots at them, trying to kill their horses, hoping to slow them down.  But Willie Boy ends up accidentally shooting one of the bounty hunters as he walks in front of his horse just as Willie shot.  The Sheriff had another Murder charge on his hands..

They manage to evade the bounty hunters for several days until it's obvious that the posse was catching up to them.  So Lola shoots herself in order to slow down the posse's advance, but Sheriff Cooper thinks that Willie Boy has killed her, but doesn't understand why.  The posse is growing restless and most of them take off on their own to hunt Willie down.  But Sheriff Cooper goes off alone to try and kill Willie Boy, before the main posse catches up to him.

As soon as Cooper catches up, he comes under fire from Willie Boy who is dug into a small cave at the top of Ruby Mountain.  Cooper is almost shot several times as he tries to climb up the hill.  In truth, the Sheriff finally manages to make his way up behind Willie and tries to talk him to surrendering.  But Willie Boy wont surrender.  Willie swings around to try to shoot the Sheriff, but Sheriff Cooper Beats him with his shot gun.  When the Sheriff checks Willie Boy's body the Sheriff  discovers that Willie was out of bullets.  The Sherrif pulled Willie Boy's gun out of his pants and discovers that it too is empty. To Cooper it is evident that Willie Boy Forced the Sheriff to kill him, in other words, perhaps the first "suicide by cop".

The Sheriff is actually crestfallen.  He carefully gathers Willie Boy's body, carries him down the slope of Ruby Mt to his horse and the waiting posse..  There are several Tribal leaders with the posse and the Sheriff gives them the body of Willie Boy, who then take Willie's body away and later burn it.

The Bounty hunters are not happy with Sheriff Cooper. They wanted Willie Boy's  body to collect their money they felt they had coming to them.  One of the posse members is reported to have said that the 'People have got see something so they will be sure this murder is dead'.  Sheriff Cooper is reported to have responded.  "Sorry, I dont have any souvenirs for them"

Willy Boy's grave monument is erected at the exact same location where he was shot, died and buried by the tribal leaders and has never been disturbed in any way.  So the next time you are out by White Water, remember, that Willie boy was really out there, causing all sorts of trouble and creating a undying legend.


It sounds like the indians were smokin that pipe a bit too much!

I heard Willie boy escaped the posse and actually died near Las Vegas in the 20's, I really hope that's the truth, as the injusticies done to him still continue to be done to others today to further careers on the bodies of innocents.

It's easy 100 years later to judge the career building of others but let's face afew facts:
He did kill Mike
He did run off with Mike's daughter to escape justice.
He did shoot at a posse and kill their horses and one member of the posse.
He possibly killed the girl
If he did kill himself it adds to the saleability of his story.
So I doubt he was an innocent. He obviously did not care who he hurt as long as he took what he wanted.

If we can't tell the story of others without being judged then let's just stop teaching history because every teacher of history (including my son) makes a career that way.
as for injustices those so often in the telling or the eye of the beholder. Do the victims feel an injustice was done to the perpetrator or to their loved ones?

"He did run off with Mike's daughter to escape justice."
Actually, he probably ran off with her because he loved her, which was his plan before Mike intervened.
"He did shoot at a posse and kill their horses and one member of the posse."
Uh, they were shooting at him! I'd shoot back too.
"He possibly killed the girl."
He did no such thing. The reactionary Indian tracker Hyde killed her and then tried to pin it on Willie Boy.
"If he did kill himself...."
Not a chance. Utterly inconsistent with his culture. He moved on to Nevada and lived for decades.
"So I doubt he was an innocent. He obviously did not care who he hurt as long as he took what he wanted."
Ditto the racist, reactionary posse.

Willie Boy returned just hours after Carlota had been shot and spotted the posse in the Pipes. Unaware that Carlota was dead, he tried to protect her by leading the posse away, north into Ruby Mountain.

There, he pinned them down in an ambush from a rock pile. Firing away, Willie Boy killed three horses and wounded another. Two bullets lodged in one deputy's hip and thigh.

In an exchange of shouting between gunfire, the lawmen accused Willie Boy of brutally murdering Carlota because she had slowed his flight.

Then there was nothing but silence.

When the moon rose, the five posse members hoisted the wounded deputy into the saddle of the surviving horse and started back to Banning for a doctor. But before they got very far, they heard one last shot in the night.

Distraught over Carlota's death and wanting to join her in the afterlife, Willie Boy had taken off his shoe, put the rifle barrel against his chest and squeezed the trigger with his toe. The weary lawmen, hearing the shot, suspected he had killed himself but didn't go back to find out.
The press refused to believe Willie Boy was dead or to let a good story die. Hoping to raise circulation with white fears of a reckless Indian still on the loose, reporters trumped up rumors of a presidential assassination plot.
The timing was perfect. President William Howard Taft was scheduled to arrive in San Bernardino and Riverside counties as part of a national trip to buoy his presidential image.

Taft's visit--along with the fact that his nickname was Billie Boy, an eerie echo of the young Indian's--spurred men to form a larger posse to find either Willie Boy or his body
On Oct. 15, eight days after Willie Boy's death and three days after Taft's train rolled out of Riverside without incident, the posse found Willie Boy's badly decomposed body at the ambush site on Ruby Mountain. They burned his body on the rocks where it lay.

How do you know that Willie Boy returned a few hours after her body was found?  Where had he gone.  The posse had tracked them to the Pipes the night before her body was found.  He did not return to the area for 7 days when he ambushed Reche's posse.  Did he expect Carlota to survive that long with only a few provisions and a canteen of water, which was empty when they found her body?

His body was not that badly decomposed.  That is one of the reason's I don't think that Willie Boy was killed.  However, I have other reason's as to why I think he was.  I have decided that we will never know for sure. 

My uncle Leroy Arnize and my Great uncle Henry Arnize were well aware of whar was happening in the Willie Boy Chase. It was one of the really big news events of the day that was followed by the press people on site, but even more so since my Uncle Henry was also a volunteer but was not picked for the possee because of his Indian ties. The entire family changed there name from Arnesto to Arnize and through several marriages became realtives of ours. Both of them told me that Willie Boy was killed by the Possee. Not just the Sherriff. So thats where I come from. theghostpainter

please see my comments on this sight

best regards,

ron house hidesert playhouse

Sorry guys, the Sheriff at the time of this incident was Frank P. Wilson, Riverside County's fourth Sheriff, who served from 1907-1923.

Reference the comment about Sheriff Wilson, it can be verified by going to www.riversidesheriff.org and clicking on the "History" section under Departmental Information. 


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