Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

William C. Chormicle and theCastaic Range War.
Los Angeles Times.
Wednesday, March 12, 1890.

Story Of Flight Through The Mountains — They Could Have Held The Fort, But Did Not Want To — The Prisoners Decline To Talk.

Sheriff Martin Aguirre and Sheriff W.H. Riley of Ventura county arrived on the 9 o'clock train from Ventura last night, bringing W.C. Chormicle and W.A. Gardner, the Castac Canon murderers, who were lodged in the County Jail. The men were seen at the jail a few minutes after their arrival by a TIMES reporter, but they declined to make any statement about the crime of which they are charged until after they can consult with their attorneys, and after thanking the officers for the kind treatment they had received at their hands they were locked up for the night. Chormicle is quite an old man, while Gardner is some years younger. Neither of them have the look of desperadoes, and would hardly be picked out in a crowd as murderers.

Sheriff Riley said that on Sunday he received word where the men were, and that they wanted to give themselves up. He then went to the place where they had been stopping and brought them to Ventura. He said that a thousand men could not have captured them unless they had wanted to surrender themselves, as the country is very wild, and Gardner is thoroughly familiar with ever inch of it, having been an old bear hunter in the mountains for some years. They had been camping out on an elevated spur of the mountain, from which they had a view of the entire country for miles around, and could have killed a dozen men before a posse could have reached them, even if they had been discovered. For three days they had lived on bread and water, and held no communication with any one.

Sheriff Riley says the men told him that they did not intend to run away, but after the shooting came down to the switch, near Castac, for the purpose of giving themselves up, when they saw a crowd, and Gardner, recognizing some of them as belonging to the other faction, and fearing that they would be shot, they took to the mountains, making their way across the range to Ventura for the purpose of giving themselves up. Mr. Riley says that, after he got to where Chormicle and Gardner were, they told him that they had been watching him all day while he was searching for them, and told him everything he did, as they saw him plainly while he was searching for their trail. They did not fully recognize him, they said, or they would have given themselves up at the time. They were very nervous about being brought through Newhall, and requested that they be taken by another route, as they feared an attack would be made on them by the friends of the murdered men, and were taken through Newhall in the baggage-car. Mr. Riley further said that, in case the men could be admitted to bail, they were prepared to furnish it in almost any amount, as they were well known in Ventura county and had many friends.

Sheriff Aguirre said that he had no hand in getting the men but that when he was notified that they had given themselves up, he concluded to wait and accompany them to this city.

While neither Chormicle nor Gardner would make any statement, it is more than probable, from what has been said by their friends, that the theory of self-defense will be advanced. An effort will be made to show that the trouble was forced upon them, and that when the quarrel got to the fighting point, the shooting was done in self-defense. It is also claimed that they have secured a number of witnesses, who will testify to these facts.

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