The painting above depicts Billy's escape from the Lincoln County Courthouse on April 28, 1881.This painting incorrectly shows Billy shooting Ollinger from the balcony. Billy actually shot Ollinger from the east window pictured below..
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.
Looking down the stairs where Deputy Bell was killed.
Legend has it that the bullet holes in the wall were put there by Billy the Kid when he killed Deputy Bell at the bottom of the stairs.
After being shot by Billy, Bell stumbled out this side door and died behind the courthouse near the marker seen below.
This marker on the ground behind the courthouse marks the approximate spot where Deputy Bell died after being shot by Billy the Kid.
After killing Bell Billy knows that Ollinger probably heard the shots and would be shortly running back to the courthouse. So Billy retrieves Ollinger's own 10-gauge double barrel shotgun and waits on him by the window in the room where he had been held prisoner. Ollinger running across the street paused right under the window when he heard Billy yell Hello Bob. It was a deadly mistake, because Billy gave him both barrels of his own shotgun.
This is the Wortley Hotel as it appears today. It was from the Wortley Hotel that Ollinger heard the shots that killed Deputy Bell and ran back towards the courthouse. This is the exact site of the Wortley Hotel, but not the original building. The original building burned down many years ago and was rebuilt. It is now a bed and breakfast locally owned and operated.
This is the famous second story window in the east wing of the Lincoln County Courthouse from which Billy the Kid shot deputy Bob Ollinger with his own 10 guage Whitney double-barrel shotgun during his last escape on April 28, 1881. This is the approximate view that Ollinger would have had when he looked up to see Billy the Kid in this window holding his very own double barreled 10 guage shotgun.
Another view of the famous East window.
This photo was taken looking down through the actual window where Billy shot Ollinger from. This is the approximate view Billy had and the marker where Ollinger fell can be seen below.
Virginia, Jessica, and DeAnndra standing on the courthouse balcony.
Lucas kneeling beside the marker where Bob Ollinger fell.
This is the interior area of the second floor of the courthouse where Billy was held under guard. The window seen in the photograph is the window from where Billy shot Ollinger.
This is the very 10 guage Whitney shotgun (Serial #903) that Billy the Kid killed Bob Ollinger with on April 28, 1881. Note that the wooden stock is wired back together. Legend has it that Billy broke the shotgun over the banister and threw it down at Ollinger's body. The 1878 Winchester rifle in the top of the display case belonged to Billy the Kid. It was confiscated by Pat Garrett following Billy's death.
Billy probably took pleasure in killing Ollinger not only because of the fact that he had bullied him around, but because he had been the one who had killed Billy's friend John Jones. After killing Ollinger Billy hollered down for Godfrey Gauss to saddle him up a horse. Gauss said that while he saddling up Billy Bert's horse Billy was working on his chains with a small prospector's pick he had given him. However, Billy only managed to get one leg free before riding out of Lincoln. There are other versions about how Billy got the gun. Some say that on the way back from the privy Billy managed to get one of the cuffs off and slugged Bell which enabled him to get ahold of his gun and kill him. Garrett claimed that while returning from the privy Billy managed to get well ahead of Bell and was able to beat him up the stairs, thus giving him enough time to break into the armory and obtain a pistol. He then supposedly returned to the top of the stairs and shot Bell who was just coming up. Personally I lean toward the gun in the privy version. My second choice however would have to be him getting a cuff free and slugging Bell. I think him beating Bell up the stairs and breaking into the armory is a little far fetched. Its hard for me to believe that any law officer would let a dangerous prisoner (Scheduled to hang) such as Billy get ahead of him at all. Whatever the true details are, there is no denying that Billy The Kid made one of the most miraculous escapes in American History. It would however be his last escape. Pat Garrett shot and killed him in Pete Maxwell's bedroom in Old Fort Sumner less than three months later at the age of 21. Nearly as soon as he fell dead his legend began.
These shackles were found in the Capitain Gap and are on display in the old Lincoln courthouse museum. They are believed to be the actual shackles that Billy wore during his confinement in the courthouse.
This is the original copy of Bell and Ollinger's Coroner's Jury Report. It is currently on display at the Lincoln Heritage Trust Museum.