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Sheriff William Henry Wilky




William Henry Wilky’s best efforts could not prevent the lynching of Starr Daley, an event that precipitated the reinstatement of the death penalty in Arizona.

James and Florence Gibson were traveling on the Apache Trail, and decided to stop and camp for the night. Starr Daley turned up on a lathered horse and asked for water, which they gave him. Then he shot James Gibson three times in the back with a rifle and spent the night raping Florence Gibson.

In the morning he forced Mrs. Gibson to come with him in the car. When it ran out of gas, Daley left Mrs. Gibson there and set out to find a gas station. Mrs. Gibson flagged down the first person she saw who went and told Marshall Petyon. The Marshall arrested Daley before he got back to the car.

Daley was a talker. He told all about what he’d done. When word got out, several hundred citizens turned up at the jail. Sheriff Wilky threw Daly into a car and headed for the prison at Florence, AZ, but some ways out of town he was headed off by three or four hundred citizens who’d jumped into their own cars roared off after him. They took Daley back to the scene of the crime, stood him on a car, rigged a noose from a telephone pole, and drove the car away.

A coroner’s jury from Florence ruled Daley’s death was “justifiable homicide, by hanging, at the hands of unknown parties.” It was the last officially recorded lynching in Arizona history.