William B. Casey’s Killer Hides Out In The White Tank Mountains

The first mention of W. B. Casey in Arizona was in 1891. Casey was working at the Hurley Ranch and had come to Phoenix that August at the age of 21. Born in William B. Casey in 1870 in New York State, perhaps he was the same W. B. Casey that in 1890 was involved in a shooting in Springfield, Nebraska. Casey was shot in the hip by a man in dispute over a horse.     The charges against Casey’s assailant were dismissed as justified and the local paper describe Casey as “a bully. “

If it is the same man, W.B. Casey’s demeanor did not improve upon his move to Arizona. Trouble was never far away the last few years of his life. In July of 1894 Casey and P.T. Hurley has a “physical misunderstanding” in Phoenix and Casey went before Judge Johnstone for making threats. Casey had threatened Hurley who countered by drawing his gun, but the case was dismissed.   November of that same year Casey had a fight with J.E. Teeter on Washington Street. In May 1985, Casey was back in court for an assault on E.G. Freeman. Casey was a milkman at this time and attempted to collect a debt from Freeman. Casey was found guilty of assault and paid a fine of $50.

The last of Casey’s troublemaking began September 7th of 1898. At the time, he was working on the ranch of Ben Anderson, north of Phoenix, and seemed to be feuding with everyone. Casey had been told to saddle a horse for Anderson’s granddaughter, so she could go riding after dinner. He took offence at the order and started a fight with Anderson’s son-in-law, Charles Balis. Casey attacked Balis with a pitchfork, beating him to “insensibility” and breaking his leg. Casey was hauled into court the next day on charges of “assault with intent to commit murder” and posted $200 bail. His trial was to be held the following Wednesday, September 14th, but Casey would not be alive to attend.

Casey heard a rumor that James Marler, a rancher west of Phoenix, had made disparaging remarks about him and the incident at Anderson’s Ranch. He and two of his friends went in search of Marler on the morning of September 11th. Finding him out irrigating his fields, Casey started yelling at him. Getting no satisfaction with just verbal assault, Casey took off his spurs and threw them at Marler’s head, and then went at him with a club. Marler held tight to his shovel and the two men were in a standoff. Casey was told to drop the club, which he agreed to do on condition that Marler also drop the shovel. Both parties agreed and as soon as the weapons hit the dirt, Casey hit Marler with his fist, knocking him down.

Casey’s attention was now on a hired hand at the ranch, George Moudy, also accused by Casey of making disparaging remarks.   George Moudy was hitching up a wagon team and hearing the fight, tied up the team and went towards the men. Casey, having dispatched Marler, went at Moudy threatening to “thump the coward.” Moudy drew his revolver and warned Casey to stop. Casey rushed at the man and two shots were fired. One shot was fatal, penetrating the heart. William Casey lay dead.

One of the witnesses jumped on his horse and rode to Phoenix to notify the sheriff. George Moudy took the wagon and headed west. Thinking the only witnesses to the shooting were friends of Casey’s, Moudy decided to hide from the sheriff in the White Tank Mountains. The three lawmen on Moudy’s trail tracked him into the mountain range, finding the abandoned wagon along the way. The lawmen knew they were catching up to Moudy when they lost him in the dark. Starting up again the next day the lawmen soon realized the hopelessness of tracking a man in the rugged White Tank Mountains and ended their search. The public was now worried about Moudy’s welfare, thinking he may die of thirst before he could be found. Friends of Moudy reported that he was well acquainted with the area and would have known where to find water.   The many natural tanks would be full of water after the recent summer rains.

The day after the shooting a Coroner’s Jury was impaneled to rule on the matter of W.B. Casey’s violent death. Witnesses told of the beatings and fights of the last few days, all instigated by the dead man, and how Moudy had warned Casey three times before shooting.  Moudy’s friends were anxious to find him and coax him out of his hiding place certain that he would not be charged in the slaying. The accused man walked out of the mountains four days later and, accompanied by his employer, turned himself in. That same day he was before Judge Johnstone and recounted his testimony. It was ruled that Moudy had acted in self-defense. The crowd cheered at the ruling. Many thought the cheer was not just for accused being absolved of wrong doing, but for the death of a known trouble maker and bully.

William B. Casey was buried on September 12, 1898. He was 28 years of age. Services were held in the Catholic Church. Despite Casey’s temper and reputation, a large number of family and friends were there to pay their last respects and join the procession to the Rosedale Cemetery at 14th Avenue and Madison Street in Phoenix.   Casey’s family included a brother and a married sister. If the family had placed a tombstone or grave marker on W. B. Casey’s final resting place, it is long since gone. The Rosedale Cemetery is one of the seven historical cemeteries that make up Pioneer and Military Memorial Park in Phoenix.

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