When his brother and companion in crime was shot dead by a posse in 1899, Thomas Ketchum, known as Black Jack, decided to make one final heist on his own. His target was a mail train; his plan was to disconnect the mail section from the rest of the train.

He forced the driver, Frank Harrington, at gunpoint to stop the train but he failed to uncouple the cars. When Harrington took his shotgun from the baggage car Black Jack opened fire in desperation and missed. Harrington’s bullet struck Black Jack in the arm, knocking him off the train. Harrington reported the robbery at the next station and the search was on for a badly wounded man.

They found Black Jack in bad shape and before he was tried in New Mexico his arm had to be amputated. Robbing the mails was a capital crime, and on October 5th, 1900, he was sentenced to be hanged in public.

The execution on Friday, April 26th, 1901, was badly botched. On the gallows Black Jack shouted “Let her rip!” But the drop was too long and his head was ripped off, spraying blood all over the audience.