William Henry McCarty (or William H. Bonney) born on November 23, 1969 in New York City is best known as a gunfighter, thief and murderer. He spent his life running from lawmen. Billy the Kid became an outlaw and a fugitive after the Lincoln County War. He was arrested for murdering Sheriff Brady, but he managed to kill two guards and escaped (1881).
Bonney claimed to have killed his first man at 17 and according to legend by the end of his life he killed over 21 men. It is written in his biography, however that he may have only killed between four to nine men. Bonney was said to be friendly and very personable and as quiet as a mouse. He was a neat dresser and had unusual skill with firearms and a cunning nature.
At the age of 14 Bonney's mother passed away and he was taken in by neighbors. He worked at a hotel and had the reputation of being honest and hardworking. One theory of his criminal ways might have been his love of dime store novels that romanticized crime. His life of crime began when he stole clothing and firearms plus cheese. He was placed in jail, escaped up the chimney and became a fugitive.
Bonney fled the Arizona Territory and moved to New Mexico where he joined a band of cattle rustlers. During this time his legend began when a resident of Silver City, NM spotted him and mentioned his name along with his notorious gang. Bonney also traveled with the Jesse Evans Gang.
Bonney was somewhat unknown most of life until Lew Wallace, New Mexico's governor placed a $500 bounty on his head. The New York Sun as well as the New Mexico Las Vegas Gazette ran stories about his exploits which furthered the legend.
Bonney became acquainted with Pat Garret, but Garret pledged to rid the territory of rustlers. Garret assembled a posse in 1880 and set out to arrest Billy the Kid. The posse found him quickly and Bonney barely escaped an ambush in Fort Sumner. On the 23 of December Bill the Kid was tracked to an abandoned building where one of his friends and a horse were shot and killed. Pat Garret finally killed Billy the Kid on July 14, 1881. Billy the Kid was only 21.