Stalking isn’t a contemporary phenomenon, as one wealthy cattleman from Colorado history could attest. Over a century ago, millionaire cattleman William J. Wilson was the object of obsession on the part of a cowpuncher and frontiersman known as Buttermilk Bill. For two decades, Buttermilk Bill, whose real name was Bill Hensley, stalked Wilson and made numerous threats to kill him. On one occasion in 1901 he followed Wilson into the Ernest & Cranmer building, drunk, heavily armed and threatening to kill the latter. Wilson called for help and police arrested Hensley.
Hensley told officers that Wilson had cheated him out of $200 back in the 1880s. At that time, Hensley had been employed at the extensive Wilson ranch on the Republican River in southeastern Colorado. Wilson had reportedly reneged on a land deal for which Hensley was to have been paid the $200. (In 1883, Wilson was the target of a $65,000 lawsuit by the sales agents related to the sale of his Circle Ranch on the Republican River.)
Officers kept Hensley in jail until he sobered up, then let him go. In 1902, Wilson prevailed upon Denver police to tail Hensley, who was again stalking his victim.
Wilson’s luck ran out in late December of 1905. At around five o’clock on a cold Wednesday afternoon, Buttermilk Bill cornered Wilson in the hallway of the Lewiston Hotel at 18th and Stout. As Hensley aimed a .38-caliber revolver at Wilson, the latter ducked into a passageway near a stairwell, but the passageway was a dead end. He was trapped. Hensley calmly swore at his victim and began firing. Five shots later, Wilson lay bleeding in the hallway. Three of the shots had entered his back.
Two police officers ran into the hallway just as Hensley turned the gun on himself. Before they could reach him, he shot himself in the head. He died later at St. Luke’s hospital. Wilson was still alive but fading quickly. The shots had torn into Wilson’s kidneys. His last words were, “Tell my brother Andy—and—call Dr. Grant—this pain is awful.”
Wilson, who had recently become a widower, left an estate worth about $225,000 to his two teenaged sons, Valdo and Howard.
(Sources: Colorado Transcript, Dec 28, 1905; the Federal Reporter, Vols. 111-112.)
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Her first week on the job, and Marshal Beth Mayo is hit with a sex assault case. It’s a nasty shock for the bucolic mountain town of Sugarloaf and for Mayo, who is still recovering from her husband’s death. Her initial skepticism grows into disbelief over the victim’s zany story, and she dismisses the case as a false report. Unfortunately, the same woman is soon discovered in the ruins of a ghost town, most definitely murdered.
Mayo unravels the complex case through a parade of colorful suspects and misfit family members, all the while following a common thread from 150 years earlier — Colorado history’s most notorious event, the Sand Creek Massacre.