A Loverboy Bandit
Throughout the years following Mexico’s loss of California to the Americas, an increase of bandits and highwaymen roamed the countryside. Many believe this increase is a result of a lack of leadership and authority that once occupied the land. Mexico’s soldiers had retreated south in to present day Mexico, and the states were slow to send or appoint authorities to their new lands.
Like Joaquin Murrieta, Tiburcio Vasquez had become a popular icon in Central and Southern California. By most historians he was considered the last of the famous bandits to terrorize these parts. Tiburcio was born in Monterey California in 1835 to Jose Hermenegildo Vasquez and Maria Guadalupe Cantua. At the age of 19 he committed his first atrocity, murdering William Hardmount, a Monterey Constable. Like Joaquin Murrieta, Tiburcio took advantage of the terrain and made the mountains surrounding Idria his refuge. The locals embraced him, probably because two of his uncles, former members of Joaquin Murrieta’s gang, still resided here. In 1857 Tiburcio was captured while stealing horses during an excursion outside of his sanctuary and sentenced to hard time in San Quentin Prison. He escaped two years later and returned to the Idria area. Several months later he was again captured and served 5 years in prison. He was released sometime in 1863, but sentenced to prison once again after another scrape with the law. After his release in 1870, Tiburcio joined up with an outlaw gang led by “Red Handed Dick”. At the recommendation of Tiburcio, the gang made Idria their center of operations. The Mining Company felt the gang’s presence offered a sense of security from outside riffraff and welcomed them. Tiburcio continued his traditional raids in to nearby towns and settlements who’s residents became evermore disturbed. On a hot August day in 1873, the gang rode out and robbed the General Store at Tres Pinos, killing three of the town’s people.
The gang made their way towards their hide out in Idria, stopping at the settlement of Piacho. By the time they had finally reached Idria, word had already arrived about their brutal activities in Tres Pinos. The employees and citizens of Idria demanded their immediate departure, so they complied and headed for Southern California making the rough terrain of the Tejon Pass their new refuge. Nearly 6 months had passed in hiding before another gang member; Abdon Leiva had turned himself in to authorities. According to historians, Tiburcio had been sleeping with his wife, so out of jealousy, Leiva turned states evidence for amnesty for his cooperation to testify against Tiburcio. In may of 1874, 9 months after the killings in Tres Pinos, Tiburcio was captured in the Arroyo Seco Canyons near present day Los Angeles while making a run for old Mexico. He was extradited to Santa Clara, where he was tried, and convicted for the murders of Tres Pinos. On March 19th of 1875 he was hanged until his death.