Craig’s 1st recorded murder: Newspaper accounts tell story of Carl Reed’s killing |

Craig’s 1st recorded murder: Newspaper accounts tell story of Carl Reed’s killing

The final resting place or Carl Reed, murdered by George Carr in 1893, can still be seen in the Craig Cemetery.
Museum of Northwest Colorado/courtesy

According to Genesis, the world’s first recorded murder took place when Cain saw the back of his brother, Abel’s, head in a field one day and picked up a rock.

Craig’s first recorded murder — though it didn’t involve a brother or a rock — arose from a similar motivation.

Cain killed Abel because he was jealous of his younger brother’s relationship with God, the Bible story teaches.

George Carr killed Carl Reed because he was jealous of the other man’s alleged relationship with his wife.

Both millennia and miles separate the two events, but the lesson remains constant.

Jealousy truly is the green-eyed monster, and sometimes, that monster bares its teeth and claws.

According to accounts from The Pantagraph, Craig’s newspaper of record between 1891 and 1895, Reed’s Sept. 5, 1893, murder at the hands of Carr occurred during a wagon trip through the area. The two men — both strangers to the area and, reportedly, close friends — were traveling from Leadville to deliver hay to a Craig area rancher.

According to accounts, they were accompanied by Carr’s wife and two children.

The trouble arose as the group past the Steamboat Springs area westward toward Craig.

The precise nature of Reed’s relationship with Carr’s wife is not definitively known, nor is it know what lead Carr to suspect infidelity, but it is likely something happened in Steamboat that sowed the murderous seeds in Carr’s heart.

According to the Pantagraph account, while in Steamboat, Carr became moody and standoffish, reportedly opting to camp apart from his party during the journey to Craig, reportedly telling the party one night, “Before tomorrow or the day after tomorrow’s sunset, either Reed or I will kiss the dust.” He also reportedly later accused his wife of planning to leave with Reed, to which she reportedly replied, “Yes, sir, you’ve threatened my life as often as I’m going to stand.”

Carr reportedly responded that, if she gavem him $5 and his clothes, he would never trouble her again.

He then went into a stand of sagebrush and loaded his Colt .45 Peacemaker

Proverbial rock in hand, Carr found Reed as he was preparing his bedding, allegedly telling the other man, “Now, you son of a bitch, you’ll try to run me, will you?” He then fired a single shot into Reed’s chest, striking the other man just below the heart.

Reed reportedly turned and fled, but Carr fired twice more, hitting Reed a second time. Though a local doctor was summoned, Reed died 15 minutes later.

After shooting Reed, Carr reportedly reloaded his pistol and menaced several Craig citizens, warning them to keep back. Then, his murderous rage apparently quelled, he entered the local saloon, where he was disarmed and apprehended by a Craig lawman, identified only as “Undersheriff Cooper.”

Carr, who, it was later learned, was a morphine addict and had been drinking the day of the murder, was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 18 years in the Canon City Colorado State Penitentiary.

Reed was buried in the Craig Cemetery, where his tombstone can still be viewed today.

To learn more about Craig’s first recorded murder, visit the Museum of Northwest Colorado.

The Craig Press gratefully acknowledges assistance from the Museum of Northwest Colorado and the book, “Frontier Colorado Gunfights,” by Kenneth Jessen, for source material for this article.


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