Colorado Was Home To One Of America’s First Serial Killers
It was the summer of 1863 when Felipe Espinoza went on his infamous killing spree, set out to kill the gringos who stole his land. Find out more about these horrific killings.
Espinosa and his family were from Conejos County and wanted to return, so he sent a letter to the then Governor of the territory, John Evans. Espinosa told him he wanted 5,000 acres to return to their homeland.
The price for refusal? Espinosa stated in his letter he would kill 600 "gringos," including the governor.
He did not arrive at this number arbitrarily, however. He vowed to kill 100 Americans for every one of his relatives killed in the Mexican-American war. He lost six family members in the war.
Starting his spree in what is now Fremont County, Espinosa and his brother Vivian began killing. Their first victim was found mutilated, with his heart hacked out of his chest.
During that summer, he killed 25 more people, pretty much the same way. It was at this point a second letter was sent, demanding full pardons for him and his gang and the land in exchange for peace. This demand was not met, and the killings continued.
Lawmen were sent out to find the men, but had no success.
Later, a Park County, Colorado Sheriff's posse tracked the gang down near Canon City, killing his brother, Vivian, but Espinosa himself escaped. He would later recruit a 14-year-old cousin, Jose, and they continued the spree, but their days were numbered.
Legendary tracker Tom Tobin was sent out after the Espinosas and, within days tracked them down.
A brief gun battle ensued, where Tobin shot both Jose and Espinosa and then cut off their heads. Tobin delivered the heads back to Ft. Garland. When asked how the hunt went, Tobin replied, "So-so," as he rolled the heads across the floor.
Some say you can still see Felipe's headless ghost in the area where he was killed. A headless man, on a horse, a rifle in his hands and pointed at riders passing by.