Wayne Brazel – Rancher Turned Killer?

Lincoln County, New Mexico ranchland

Lincoln County, New Mexico ranchland

Jesse Wayne Brazel was a stockman in New Mexico who allegedly killed Pat Garrett in 1908.

Brazel was born in Greenwood City, Kansas, in 1876, but the family soon moved to Brown County, Texas, before making their way to Lincoln County, New Mexico in the early 1880s. At the age of 15, Brazel went to work as a cowboy on W.W. Cox’s 100,000-acre ranch in San Augustine. Later, Brazel was running his goat ranch on land owned by Pat Garrett, and the two got into a dispute when Garrett wanted to break the lease. Though the deal was not friendly, terms were finally agreed to, and the pair planned to close the deal in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on February 29, 1908.

Pat Garrett

Pat Garrett

However, as Garrett traveled, Brazel caught up with him, and words grew heated. In the end, Garrett was shot to death, and Brazel confessed to the slaying, though many believed that the shooting was a conspiracy involving two more people.

Allegedly, Brazel took the “fall” for the murder because he was single. He was later tried; however, he was acquitted of the crime. Later, Brazel moved to Lordsburg, New Mexico, where he married and fathered a son. However, when his wife died, he sold out in 1913 and moved to Arizona. He later disappeared but was thought to have been killed by an outlaw in Bolivia in about 1915.


© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.

Also See:

Adventures of the Old West

Pat Garrett – An Unlucky Lawman

Pat Garrett and the Man Hunt (by Emerson Hough, 1906)

New Mexico – Land of Enchantment