28 April 1881

Billy the Kid escapes from the Lincoln County jail in Mesilla, New Mexico.

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After Billy The Kid’s capture at Stinking Springs he was jailed at Santa Fe for nearly three months. Then he was taken south to Mesilla to stand trial. On April 13, 1881 Judge Warren Bristol sentenced Billy to be hung on the 13th of May for the murder of sheriff William Brady. He was then taken to Lincoln to be held under guard awaiting his execution. However, history shows us that Billy had other plans. He was held prisoner on the top floor of the building formerly known as the House. He was guarded in the east wing in a room that was formerly L.G. Murphy’s bedroom. His guards were James Bell and Robert Ollinger. It has been said that Ollinger bullied Billy around the whole time he was being held prisoner.

How Billy escaped for sure will probably never be known. What is known however is that when Billy The Kid rode out of Lincoln on April 28, 1881 he was a free man and he left both of his guards lying dead where they fell. Pat Garrett had been out of town during the escape. He was supposedly collecting taxes in White Oaks. The biggest mystery about the escape is where did Billy get the gun? One of the most popular versions is that when Bob Ollinger escorted the other prisoners across the street to the Wortley Hotel to eat dinner Billy ask James Bell to take him out back to the privy. While in the privy Billy finds a pistol that was hidden in there by a friend or a Regulator sympathizer. On the way back up the stairs Billy is in front, but turns around when he reaches the top landing and pulls the gun and shoots Bell.