Waiting for a Killer

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Thunder Over the Prairie:

The Story of a Murder and a Manhunt by the

Greatest Posse of All Time.



A cold morning broke in rose and gold colors over the vast Cimarron grassland. James Kenedy tumbled out of his rocky bed tucked under a long, narrow mesa and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes. He hauled his weary frame to a depression in the earth, turned his back to the frigid, biting wind, and began relieving himself. His tired horse meandered behind him, alternating between gnawing on bits of brush and drinking from deep puddles made by the rain that had assaulted the region.

James finished his business and dragged himself to the saddle and bit he had removed from his mount the night before. The horse gave the outlaw a disapproving look as he approached him with the harness. Dried lather from profuse sweating beaded across the animal’s backside and his unshod hooves were tender and chipped.

The idea of riding on wasn’t anymore appealing to James than his horse, but it was necessary. The downpour from the previous evening had no doubt raised the level of the river further, but James was hopeful that the water had crested and would begin receding by late afternoon. If that happened, the ford would be passable and James and the cowboys he was sure his father had sent after him, could make it across.

No matter what trouble James had ever managed to get himself into, he knew there was sanctuary in Texas. His father had recently purchased Laureles Ranch; a one hundred thirty-one thousand acre spread 20 miles from Corpus Christi, and had hired a team of ranch hands to fence in the property. Mifflin Kenedy planned to build up his herds, raise a better quality of livestock, and isolate his rebellious son from persistent police or vengeful gunslingers.

For a brief moment in time Mifflin believed his spoiled boy had a future with the Texas Rangers. In November 1875, James joined a company whose main objective was to reduce the raids on cattle ranches by Mexican bandits. His knowledge of the wild territory made him a valuable asset to the troops, but his term of duty lasted only five months. In April 1876, he voluntarily left the Rangers earning a mere $59.72 for his time served.

Law and order was not in James’s nature. He thrived on misdeeds and violent confrontations with competing ranchers outside of the Texas Panhandle. He relished indulgencies of every kind and came and went at his sweet will. He could not conceive of a single circumstance where he would not ultimately be rescued from the consequences of his vicious actions.


Thunder Over the Prairie

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To learn more about the posse that tracked down Spike Kenedy read Thunder Over the Prairie.