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Ruby, Arizona - Page 3

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In the meantime, a manhunt for Manuel Martinez was underway. Before long, he was tracked down in the mountains who threatened to lynch him as a ploy to get him to confess. In no time, Martinez spilled his guts. He was brought in just as the jury was out on Silvas’ verdict. Martinez was immediately booked for murder and Silvas’ jury was dismissed, pending further evidence from Martinez.

Despite his confession, Martinez pleaded not guilty in the Santa Cruz county Superior Court on May 16, 1922. However, two days later, it took 12 jurors only 40 minutes to find him guilty of first degree murder.

The very next day Silvas' trial began once again in earnest. Despite the evidence, the jury was hung and a new trial ordered.


Manuel Martinez

Manuel Martinez, courtesy Arizona Department of Corrections.






A third trial was ordered for Silvas which lasted twenty-one days, going on record as the  longest criminal trial ever held in Santa Cruz County. After hours of debate, the jury finally found Silvas, too, guilty of murder.

On July 12th, the two men appeared for sentencing. Martinez was sentenced to be hanged on August 18, 1922, while Silvas was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Arizona state penitentiary. Of the crime, Judge W.A. O’Connor said: "The crimes of which you have been convicted are perhaps the cruelest ever committed in Arizona. Let the punishment that awaits you serve as a warning to others who may contemplate the commission of similar crimes.”

But the drama was not yet over. The next night Santa Cruz County Sheriff George White and Deputy L. A. Smith loaded the prisoners into a car to take them to the state penitentiary at Florence. But, before they reached their destination, Pima County Sheriff Ben Daniels would receive a disturbing phone call. The prisoner car had been found rolled over in a ditch near Continental, Arizona. Near the car the bodies of White and Smith were sprawled on the ground with their skulls caved in. White was already dead but Smith was still breathing and rushed to the hospital.

Authorities immediately began an investigation, finding a place about 200 feet from the wreck where it appeared the prisoners had jumped from the moving car. Nearby was a blood-stained wrench that had obviously been used to bludgeon Officers White and Smith.


Lawmen, using dogs, immediately began to pursue the outlaws. But it was raining and the dogs quickly lost the scent. The pursuit was given up for the night but immediately resumed the next morning. Following their trail over the Santa Rita Mountains, they lost it near Ruby.

In the meantime, Deputy Smith died without ever regaining consciousness. As the news spread of a third double murder, area citizens were enraged and volunteer posses poured in from Pinal, Pima, Cochise, and Santa Cruz counties, who were sent out to scout the desert and guard the roads.


The dogs were brought in once again, but were of no help. Five days after the convicts’ escape, some 700 men were combing the area in the most extensive manhunt in the history of the entire Southwest.


Posse and Prisoners

Posse and Prisoners. Over 200 men pursued the Pearson’s murderers after they escaped during transport to the prison in Florence. Silvas and Martinez are in middle of the back row. Photo courtesy Nogales Herald, July 20, 1922.


Placido Silvas

Placido Silvas escaped from prison and was never seen again. Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Corrections.


Finally on the sixth day, a blood-stained file was found, that authorities believed the convicts had used to cut off their handcuffs. Immediately, the lawmen were on the trail again finally catching up with the pair who were hiding under brush in the Tumacacori Mountains. Having run for over 70 miles of broken country, they were raving with thirst and exhausted. Arrested once again, they were first taken to Nogales before being quickly whisked off again to the penitentiary. This time there would be no escape for the two men.


On the date of his execution, Martinez was granted a last minute stay of execution. As his appeals dragged on, they were finally exhausted and he was sentenced to die once again on May 23, 1923.


In another desperate attempt, the Mexican Consul obtained a writ that once again delayed Martinez’s execution. However the Supreme Court intervened, quashed the writ and the killer was sentenced to die for the last time. On August 10, 1923, Martinez was hanged.


Placido Silvas was sent to prison for life. However, on December 3, 1928, he escaped from a State Penitentiary work ranch and was never seen again.


Continued Next Page


Ruby Mercantile Doors

It was through these very doors that the bandits entered twice, leaving behind a

 double murder each time. Photo by Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints HERE!


Ruby, Arizona Mercantile Window

A view inside the Ruby Mercantile today, Photo by Kathy Weiser. This image available for photographic prints HERE!


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