Owsley shows Alan how he identified the infamous gunman.
Bill Longley's first funeral took place in 1878 after he was
hanged for murder at age 27. But rumors that Longley escaped
the execution persisted and the legend of Wild Bill was born.
Now, over one hundred years later, Longley's descendants wanted
to know the truth.
In "A Texan Tall Tale," a team of scientists shows Alan how
they put both Bill's body and his legend to rest. Some fifteen
years ago, an alleged Longley descendant asked forensic anthropologist
Douglas Owsley to help him find Wild Bill. A photograph of
a head stone taken roughly fifty years after the hanging and
a marker placed in 1976 in the Giddings, Texas cemetery were
all the clues Owsley and his colleague, geologist and remote
sensing expert Brooks Ellwood, had to go on.
trees and monuments, Ellwood and Owsley matched the photograph
to the modern day marker. But the nearby soil showed no signs
of being disturbed, and cemetery records revealed that the
headstone had been moved several times. If Wild Bill's body
was in the 5-acre graveyard, where was it?
of cigar smoking left Wild Bill's teeth stained by tobacco.
team used magnetic measurements to detect the disturbed soil
around unmarked graves. The technique turned up some 60 possible
sites, of which 35 were excavated, but none contained remains
matching Wild Bill's description - a tall, white male of 27.
Finally, the team double-checked the area near the 1976 marker.
This time they got lucky. Both the skeleton and some personal
effects suggested this was indeed Wild Bill. Modern science
lent a hand, too. The DNA of Wild Bill's sister's descendant,
Helen Chapman, was a perfect match. Now the notorious gunman
could be buried, back in the Giddings cemetery - for the second
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