The Death of Pat Garrett

by Steven Kretshmer

At the end of Pat Garrett’s life he was struggling financially.  He owed a lot of money to several of people.  In an effort to repay some of this money Garrett leased a portion of his ranch to Wayne Brazel and Print Rhode to graze cattle or so he thought.  Brazel was a good friend of W.W. Cox who was one of the folks Pat was in debt to.  The lease quickly went sour though when Rhode and Brazel moved a large herd of goats onto the land.  Garrett was enraged because he had been told cattle would be grazed on the land.  He also felt the goats would devalue the land to future renters or buyers.  He tried to have the lease voided but the case was thrown out of court.

Enter Carl Adamson of Texas.  Adamson approached Garrett about buying land as a stop for his cattle that he was bringing up from Mexico.  Unfortunately Garrett couldn’t sell the land with it still leased to Brazel and Rhode.  Pat told Adamson of the problem.  Mr. Adamson offered to buy some or all of the goats from Rhode and Brazel but the deal fell through when a price for the animals couldn’t be reached.  In a last-ditch effort to save the deal and alleviate his financial strain Garrett agreed to meet with Adamson and Brazel in Las Cruces, NM to mediate a deal.

On the Morning of February 29th 1908 Pat and Carl Adamson set out for Las Cruces in a wagon.  They stopped in Organ, NM to water the horses.  This is where the met up with Wayne Brazel.  Pat and Wayne began arguing about the goats immediately.  The three then continued on to Las Cruces with Garrett and Brazel continuing to argue any time Brazel ventured close enough to the wagon.  Along the way in the Alameda Arroyo, Garrett and Adamson stopped to relieve themselves.  Adamson had his back to the other two and heard two shot ring out.  Brazel claimed self defense saying Garrett was going for his gun.  Interestingly, Garrett’s shotgun was found near him, disassembled and still in the scabbard incapable of being fired.  Brazel and Adamson left Garrett’s body and returned to town where Brazel turned him self in and was eventually acquitted of the murder.  

Many believe Garrett was murdered in cold blood though as his wounds were both from the rear.  Also, his fly was open and left hand ungloved so as to indicate he was shot while urinating.  When he died Pat only had his shotgun and a 50 dollar check from Gov. George Curry.

The site of Garrett’s murder can be visited to this day and has a marker placed by his son.  Garrett is buried along with his wife and many other members of his family in the Masonic Cemetery in the heart of Las Cruces.

For more information about Garrett's kill site and the marker visit the Friends of Pat Garrett: