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.

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Read newspaper archives. They won't be 100% truthful, but you'll get an idea of what happened. Also, check out the movie made years ago on this story, entitled: WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO WILLIE BOY.

WAIT THE POSSE SHOT THE GIRL BECAUSE SHE WAS WEARING WILLIES JACKET.AND IT WAS NOT WILLIE THEY SHOWED IT WAS A FRESH DEAD GUY IN A CLEAN SHIRT NOT WILLIE WHO HAD A DIRTY SHIRT ON.

OK THE OFFICIAL STORY I HAVE IS THE POSSE SHOT THE GIRL WHY WOULD THEY WANT TO ADMITTED IT.
SHE HAD WILLIES JACKET ON.. WHY WOULD A TABOO LOVE AFFAIR END BY HIM NO WAY!
HE LOVED HER NO WAY WOULD HE KILL HER .. THE POSSE LIED .. WILLIE BOY LIVED ON IN CENTRAL CALI.
THE DEAD BODY WAS NEVER SHOWN EXCEPT AT A DISTANCE THE DEAD BODY HAD A NICE CLEAN WHITE SHIRT ON ALSO. WILLIE DID NOT DIE ...THE TRUTH IS HEARD

R.I.P. WILLIE AN EVERYONE AROUND THAT TIME

Makes a lot more sense then he killed the woman he loved.

I'm a grad student at UC-Riverside looking for family histories of this story. Please let me know if you have given your family's info to a library, or if you have info at home and are willing to be interviewed.

I am a member of the Morongo Basin Historical Society in Landers, CA. We are right in the heart of Willie Boy country. Please check out our website www.mbhs.net and view our Give Big video about Willie Boy by clicking on "Support the Morongo Basin Historical Society now." The history of the Willie Boy saga is still being rewritten over 100 years later.

If you want you can donate as little as $10 for our online fundraiser now or on May 8th to help support our continued efforts to research history of WB.

Let's keep History Alive! Share this site with your history friends.

the families of willie boy and lolas TODAY still fight about whether willie boy killed lola or not, his family says he didnt take her they ran away together they loved each other and he wouldnt hurt her. and that the posse killed lola mistakenly for willie boy. also making him look more of a murderer. i would love to travel to talk to the familes. i am a member of the chemehuevi indian tribe in ca and had always heard about willie boy. i believe the posse is not telling he whole truth about what really happened but whatever story you hear its up to you what to believe.

Thanks for reaching out. Please give me your contact info if you'd like to talk. My email is caroline.schwartz@email.ucr.edu.

Chemehuevi oral history maintains that Willie did not die at The Pipes/Ruby Mountain. As far as I can see, he escaped due to his knowing the Salt Songs which contain information about finding food, water and medicine, and his (sacred) running, which enabled him to run the equivalent of two marathons a day in desert heat. Moreover, in interviews conducted by a prominent Native scholar, Southern Paiute people in Arizona confirm that Willie lived the remainder of his years with them. The photos of Willie's body in the Lawton book are viewed skeptically. First, the face of the body is never shown, second, the body is insufficiently decomposed for supposedly being in the desert for two weeks. As for motivation, the demoralized posse needed a "trophy" to show for the newspapers that created a sensational story pinning an assassination attempt on President Taft who was traveling though an uneventful Riverside at the time.

I would also like to talk to the families, however I understand that they have repaired their relationships; but I wouldn't want to do so until I have something to offer them - like new evidence vindicating Willie - not that they need it -- they already know the truth - but evidence that will silence those who would still slander Willie's name and his people.

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