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Arizona Centennial Minute: Outlaws

Pearl Hart, stage coach robber in Arizona.
Pearl Hart, stage coach robber in Arizona.

The Wild West loved its outlaws. Two of Arizona’s most famous lived during the 20th century.

Public Enemy Number One -- John Dillinger -- was a bank robber and killer, but he seemed a glamorous figure during the Depression.

Dillinger and his henchmen fled to Tucson in 1934 after killing two guards during an Ohio jailbreak.  The downtown hotel they checked into caught fire that night.

An alert firefighter recognized the men from a photo in “True Detective” Magazine and told police. Media flocked to Tucson to getthe story of the firefighter and the surly killers.  Tucsonans still hold re-enactments during Dillinger days.

Media also came to Arizona to interview a rare female outlaw in 1899 named Pearl Hart, who robbed a stagecoach near Florence with her partner Joe Boot.  At her trial she told such a sad story of needing to visit her sick mother that the judge acquitted her.

But she couldn’t stay out of trouble, and ended up in the Yuma Prison, where reporters loved to visit the saucy seducer of both guards and visitors in her private quarters.

Hart is said to have died in obscurity – possibly in Globe in the 1930s.  The surroundings might have been familiar, considering jail cells from the Yuma Prison were also moved to Globe. You can still see them there today.


Fred DuVal is a long-time Arizona civic leader and businessman, who began his career under Arizona Governor Bruce Babbitt. DuVal was captivated by Babbitt’s knowledge of Arizona and his peculiar habit of stopping in old cemeteries as they traveled the state, which deepened his interest in state history. DuVal has served in a number of public leadership roles including Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under the Clinton Administration, as commissioner on the Arizona Commerce and Economic Development Commission, and as chairman of the Arizona Board of Regents responsible for guiding the growth of Arizona's three public universities. He co-authored the book Calling Arizona Home, with Lisa Schnebly Heidinger in 2005. The book describes who we are as Arizonans and the common threads that unite us across all parts of the state and all walks of life.
Lisa Schnebly Heidinger is a former journalist who authored her first book in 1995. Lisa became smitten with Arizona pioneers and history after hearing as a small child that the town of Sedona was named after her great-grandmother Sedona Schnebly. She began writing journals as a child, and moved from personal writing to newspaper reporting as a raw recruit at the Green Valley News in 1979. After four years, she broke into broadcast journalism, working seven days a week at KCEE radio while working weekends on KGUN-TV in Tucson. She opened the Northern Arizona bureau for KTVK-TV in 1989 and later moved to Phoenix. Today, she is an avid author, regular volunteer, and enjoys substitute teaching and traveling. In addition to "Calling Arizona Home," she is the author of the state's official Centennial commemorative book, "Arizona: 110 Years Grand."