Did outlaw Butch Cassidy survive the shootout to tell another tale?


Paul Newman starred most famously as Butch Cassidy in the 1969 drama

Did Butch Cassidy, the outlaw who most historians believe was killed in a 1908 shootout in Bolivia, actually live to old age in Washington state? And did he write an autobiography detailing his exploits while protraying the book as biography under another name?

Robert LeRoy Parker (April 13, 1866 – c. November 6, 1908), was better known as Butch Cassidy, according to his Wikipedia page. Cassidy was a notorious American train robber, bank robber, and leader of the Wild Bunch Gang in the American Old West. After several large robberies Cassidy and his partner the Sundance Kid were being pursued by both authorities and the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. In an attempt to enjoy their winnings the pair traveled to Bolivia but were allegedly killed by Bolivian police.

But a rare books collector says he has obtained a manuscript with new evidence that may give credibility to the theory that Cassidy survived, the AP reported.

The 200-page manuscript, "Bandit Invincible: The Story of Butch Cassidy," which dates to 1934, is twice as long as a previously known but unpublished novella of the same title by William T. Phillips, a machinist who died in Spokane in 1937.

But Utah book collector Brent Ashworth and Montana author Larry Pointer say "Bandit Invincible" text contains the best evidence yet, with details only Cassidy could have known, that "Bandit Invincible" was not fictionalized biography but actual autobiography, and that Phillips himself was the legendary outlaw.

The new manuscript, Pointer says, has details only Cassidy could have known, Slate reported. In one example in the manuscript, the author describes how a judge visited Cassidy in prison in 1895. The judge offered Cassidy a handshake and a possible pardon from the governor, but Cassidy refused.

"What's really remarkable to me is that, who else cares?" Pointer told the AP. "Who else would have remembered it in that kind of detail... about an offer of a handshake and refusing it in a prison in Wyoming in 1895?"

Pointer and Ashworth aren't the first people to claim that the author, William T. Phillips, who died in Washington state in 1937, is actually the famous bandit. Phillips' adopted son, who has since died, told Pointer that he believed his father was Butch Cassidy.

But other experts are unconvinced. The claims that Phillips was Cassidy are "total horse pucky," said Dan Buck, a historian who has studied the bandit's life. "It doesn't bear a great deal of relationship to Butch Cassidy's real life, or Butch Cassidy's life as we know it."