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Casey Tefertiller
What actually occurred
Mon Jul 9, 2018 19:57

Here is what actually happened:

Neil called and said that he had found something that indicated that Billy B. had written his book himself, contrary to what was said by numerous folks for years. I started piddling around to see what I could find. Recall these were the early days of the internet, when new information was coming on almost daily. If I recall correctly, Neil was not on the internet at that time. I located a collection of Bechdoldt letters that was listed as an item in a library.

I then contacted the library and paid a small fortune to have the letters microfilmed. In the collection were letters where Billy said he wrote it himself. There was also the incredible Bechdolt letter telling about his visit with Earp where Earp claimed that he killed Ringo. I considered this a blockbuster discovery, and I wanted to use it myself. I copied the letters about Brek writing his own book and sent them to Neil for the project on which he was working.

At that time, I had a pretty full plate. I was caring for my mother, who was dealing with cancer, and I was working on a baseball book. This discovery would have made a cover story for True West or Wild West, but I was also talking to my publisher about updating LBL. So I had not decided what to do with it.

In a surprisingly short amount of time, my discovery appeared in one of your books, and you touted it on this discussion board. At that time, you knew I had made the actual discovery.

I called Neil, and he told me that he had sent away for the microfilm, then he gave you the Bechdoldt letter on his meeting with Earp. Since there was already a master film, he only had to pay a piddling amount to have a copy.

So I spent a load of money, made a major find, and you scooped me on my own discovery.

That is how it goes. If I wanted to protect my discovery, I should have lied to Neil and not helped him with his project.

* * *

Obviously, when new information comes along, we should re-evaluate our theories. Have you ever done this? Perhaps with the new evidence on Clay Allison? Or the Spicer Hearing?

Before the discovery of the Bechdoldt letter, what we had was a mishmash of conflicting information. Earp told a newspaper that he did not kill Ringo. Then comes the Hooker Ms saying he killed Ringo, but Earp refused to allow publication.

Then the unpublished Flood Ms, however, the copy of the Flood that Earp gave to Lake did not include the killing of Ringo. Did Flood include something he got from a source other than Earp, and Earp had it deleted because it was not accurate?

Then comes the odd Lockwood interview. Recall, too, that Lockwood believed that Earp had arrested Ben Thompson even though Lockwood said he disliked Earp even before he met him.

After that, Earp did not tell either Burns or Lake that he killed Ringo.

So we had a mess. Two unpublished mss and Lockwood’s statement. All anyone could do was guess, and I never presented anything I said as other than an analysis of available information.

The missing link was the Bechdodt letter, which filled in blanks. It was the kind of discovery that demanded a reanalysis.

I do not recall what you said 20 years ago. That is a long time to nurse some kind of grudge.

* *

One issue I have is that you have not responded to inquiries I have made, either by email or public board. The latest example was last year when I was working on the article about the most exciting discoveries in the Earp field. I came on this board to ask you if it was accurate to attribute the discovery of Paul-Shibbel election file to you, and you did not respond. This caused me to do extra work to assure that this was accurate.

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