The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

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Joe Ribaudo
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:30 am

Jack,

Only one question.......Did Sim's Ely mention this as the place Ruth's body was found? Might have just been a mistake by Ely, but it's curious.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby don » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:52 am

hrdlickas opinions? possible mistakes? certainties arent in hrdlickas report...he came to his conclusions based on the balance of probabilities and possibilities...im only writing from memory here but the "possibilities" and probabilities" include shot from a gun-shot from a shot gun-shot from a rifle-shot from a pistol "in all probability"-"possibly"-and "most likely". Its conceivable even that the skull itself wasnt Ruth's...im pretty sure he stated that there were several reason that INDICATED (note the word only indicated" ) that the skull was ruth's..i believe the term "reasonable certainty " was also used . add to the fact that the skull was identified as that of a 66 year old white male,which is fair enough because that was the age that ruth was thought to be...he was of course 76 apparently..but hrdlicka cant be blamed for THAT at least ,if nobody told him beforehand that is.Maybe my thinking is awry but i cant see that with the facts we have available anyone can come to a definite verdict of either murder or death by natural causes..it could have been either.
personally id go with the natural causes ,if for no other reason than that it was the official verdict....to believe otherwise means one has to also believe that the coroner and assorted officials had a reason to cover up the murder ...the only real reason id imagine was if they were "all in it " together ,presumabley for a share of the map /gold or whatever...or..one would have to believe that the aforementioned officials were totally and utterly incompetent .
the story took on a life of its own.and one such aspect ive never seen mentioned is the totally absurd statement by holmes that he recognised ruth by his skull because he (holmes) had met ruth before ....thats only my view ,and to the best of my knowledge and belief a realistic one...thats
of course-if im not joking
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby cuzzinjack » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:18 pm

don,

According to Ely, Ruth's skull was positively identified by Ruth's own dentist, so the skull was his. The way Ely describes it, the skeleton of Ruth's body was found on the same brushy ridge overlooking West Boulder Canyon where his skull was found. Ruth was frail, and it would seem that if he was up on that ridge, in June, in his "light" camp shoes as Ely tells it, his death was of natural, although self-inflicted, causes.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby novice » Mon Mar 05, 2018 1:01 pm

I’ve been hesitant to add much to the Ruth Story since the sources of my information are not presently available on the web site. All to the newspaper accounts from May to January were on the web site. These are at least contemporary accounts and the officials were not hesitant to disclose detail information regarding an ongoing investigation (as opposed to present day procedures).

The following is a list of items reported in the newspapers found with Adoplh Ruth’s body. It would be far more meaningful to each of you if you created your own list but maybe this will suffice for discussion.

Maybe someone could create a composite list, noting the differences in the different newspaper accounts. I always believe the devil is in the details. What is a pen knife, What is a jackknife, etc?

Remember it is heresy to suggest anything other than Ruth was murdered among LDM enthusiasts! :wink:

Personal Belongings Recovered: Arizona Republic (AR), Phoenix Gazette, PG


Arizona Republic (Morning Newspaper)


January 9, 1932
1. Medicine Kit
2. Emergency Rations

January 10, 1932
1. Penknife
2. Jackknife
3. Top of a thermos bottle
4. Tin matchbox containing six matches
5. Gold case watch
6. Compass
7. Hand lens
8. Suspenders
9. Gun
10. Flashlight
11. Pickax
12. Checkbook
13. Thermos bottle
14. Canvas leggings
15. Government topographic survey map
16. Many papers scattered around
17. Hat
18. Portions of the tattered clothes

Notes:
1. Contained in the double fold of his trouser’s pocket
• Penknife
• Jackknife
• Top of a thermos bottle
• Tin matchbox containing six matches
• Gold case watch
2. Found in a buttoned shirt pocket
• Compass
• Hand lens
3. Hand lens was for the inspection of ore
4. His gun had not been fired
5. The thermos bottle was empty
6. Canvas leggings were wrapped as though he might have removed them
7. No Spanish map which the aged prospector supposedly possessed
8. The hat and tattered clothes are identified in the photo caption

Phoenix Gazette (Evening Newspaper)

January 8, 1932
1. All his papers remained
2. shredded remnants of his clothing
3. Watch
4. Gun
5. Medicine kit
6. Emergency condensed food rations

Notes:
1. Pistol had not been fired
2. Gun was loaded

January 9, 1932
1. Shredded clothing (Remnants of Khaki Clothing)
2. Penknife
3. Jackknife
4. Top of a thermos bottle
5. Tin matchbox containing six matches
6. Gold case watch
7. Compass
8. Hand lens
9. Government topographic survey map
10. Scattered about the ground were his papers
• Checkbook
• Membership Card for Woodmen of the World
• Newspaper clippings on government departmental subjects, Ruth was involved with
• Card showing the address of a man in Utah
• Stub in checkbook indicating a check for $10 had been written
• Several small slips of paper with illegible writing (probably once carrying notes)
11. Pint thermos bottle
12. Prospector’s Pick
13. Knapsack
14. Flashlight
15. Food remnants – quantity of condensed food biscuits and remnants of chocolate. In a stained brown paper wrapping.
16. Medicine Kit – Little cotton sack fitted to be carried over the shoulder
• Unopened bottle of potassium permanganate for rattle-snake bites
• Tube of salve for chapped lips
• Bottle of pills
• Sample bar of soap
17. Unbroken glasses
18. Metal clasp of a leather purse
19. Lower jaw bone
20. Two sets of false teeth
21. Most of the bones of skeleton were found except those of hands and feet.

Notes:
1. Contained in the double fold of his trouser’s pocket
• Penknife
• Jackknife
• Top of a thermos bottle
• Tin matchbox containing six matches
• Gold case watch
2. Found in a buttoned shirt pocket
• Compass
• Hand lens
3. Hand lens was for the inspection of ore
4. No Spanish map or copy of one was found
5. The thermos bottle was empty
6. The prospector’s pick painted point was unmarred indicating it was never used
7. The flashlight had apparently rolled from the knapsack. It still worked.
8. The leather from the leather purse had disappeared. The three silver dollars which it was believed to contain were NOT found
9. The meaning of “two” sets of false teeth is unclear
10. The shoes were NOT found
11. The metal plate fastened to the thigh bone from a previous injury was NOT found
12. The bones of the hands and feet were NOT found
13. Only traces of sinew clung to the bones

January 11, 1932
1. Belt Buckle
2. Slender stick, Ruth had cut for a cane to aid him in hike.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:23 pm

Wow!!! 8O Thanks, Garry! I don’t have any of the news articles so these lists are a big help for me to try to understand what was happening on Ruth’s “last trip”. Much food for thought! Best regards, Jim
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby novice » Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:06 am

Jim,

The Hrdlicka File is also an important source in trying to understand the Adolph Ruth story. This is from memory but Joe will know the details of the file background. I believe Tom Kollenborn ran parts of it down in the 80s and Joe was in contact with the Smithsonian in the last 10 or so years and he received all of the documents related to the Ruth story from Dr. Hrdlicka’s files. There was a draft and later a revised version as Hrdlicka tried to clarify his findings. The images were on my web site and some images may still reside here someplace as there was a long discussion.

As far as the discovery of the bones and personal items found (minus the skull), it seems to me to provide conclusive evidence that these were the remains of Adolph Ruth. A skull was found a relatively short distance, with traces of sinew still attached. I’ll leave speculation to others as to whether it was Ruth’s skull.

I noticed I listed two sets of false teeth. I didn’t revisit the newspaper article but it doesn’t make much sense. Maybe the newspaper meant an upper and lower set?

The story of Ruth’s dentist is one of several falsehoods that appear in the Ely book. I for one was relieved when Dr. Glover revealed how the published version was generated. (Dr. Glover received all of the Sims Ely LDM papers from the family) The story can probably be laid at the feet of the ghost writer and not Sims. The only thing I would add is to be extremely careful about taking things from the book as fact.

I’m glad to see some fresh sets of eyes digging into the details of the Ruth story.

How was Ruth taken into the Superstitions?

Who led the investigation into his disappearance?

What is the provenance of the story about moving Ruth’s body?

Were there every any Spanish maps?

WAS RUTH MURDERED?

Etc?

Garry

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:27 am

Guys,

I have mentioned before that the silver plate was not found. That story later changed, and I believe Brownie and Bill Barkley may have been involved in some way.

Good luck,

Joe

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Tue Mar 06, 2018 12:15 pm

Hi Garry,

As far as provenance to the stories, I don’t really believe any of them. Provenance is a real problem. Just looking at, say, the “Gassler” manuscript could be an exercise in futility. It may as well have been created out of thin air. I don’t know, that’s for sure. If T.K. or B.C. showed up with one from back in the day and said to me: “Here, Walt gave me this in 1984” then I would know it was the genuine article. But I don’t know if that’s where the manuscript came from (T.K. or B.C.), and any time that happens at least for me, the story is suspect. That’s why I think the third party verification you have been doing with letters and articles is so important.

Hi Joe,

I do recall you pointing out not only the lack of the metal plate, but several other things as well. For example, it looked to me like the picture you posted (Delmonte claim) was looking at Weaver’s Needle from right above/near the Willow Springs area? Am I correct? It’s hard for me to recall how WN looks from say the west or the east…I very well may have that reversed in my mind…Anyway to me it looks like he was already where he wanted to be…so why go out for a pleasant 6 mile hike (probably more b/c I don’t think he could have walked up Bull Pass, if he did in fact walk, he probably went up around Needle Canyon). And why would he walk over to the east side of Black Top Mesa? There’s a lot that doesn’t make much sense with this story.

One thing I know for sure is that someone who packed Ruth in also pulled a gun on someone else over a so-called “Peralta” map. Only a complete idiot (look what happened when they tried that on Piper), or someone willing to use it, would actually be so bold as to pull a gun on someone. Actions speak louder than words. Not the kind of person I would trust packing an old guy into the mountains.

Best regards, Jim
Jim R.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Tue Mar 06, 2018 4:24 pm

Hey Joe, one other thing:

I would be very interested in seeing any of Dr. Hrdlicka’s notes on the subject. I’m one of those weirdo’s that walks around with a bunch of formulae floating around in my head, so I’d like to see what he came up with. While modern ammunition tends to make the types of holes described by Thomas (coning), it seems Hrdlicka could have been thinking more along the lines of a Minie or even a round ball, i.e. a soft projectile that deforms a lot on impact.

When such a projectile hits a hard surface, the first thing that happens will be radial fracturing. Then, a tenth of a millisecond or so later, as the projectile continues into the surface, deforming on the way, there will be concentric fractures that end at the radial fractures. This creates a hole that’s sort of round, but with a lot of jagged edges.
Bullet.JPG


So I’m wondering if he did any actual scientific analysis. For example, bullet energy in foot-pounds can be calculated with: Ke = (.5)((Mass)(Velocity)^2). (If anyone’s wondering why the mass and velocity are first squared and then divided in half, look at the graph and it will make sense. The mass and velocity, when plotted, form a right triangle. All that stuff in the triangle is kinetic energy. The easiest way to integrate the area of a right triangle is to just make it a square, then divide it in two.) We also know that holes can be made in bone with bullets at such little velocity of 200 FPS, so somebody somewhere has done all the math regarding holes in skulls.
Energy.JPG



Now there comes a point where this theory thumping and over-thinking can be counterproductive and inaccurate…so I’m wondering if that’s why he changed what type of weapon he thought was used…was it physics based, did he have the math to back him up, or was he just guessing what weapon was used based on what it “looked” like? Did you see anything like that in the stuff you got from the Smithsonian? Best regards, Jim
Jim R.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:12 am

Mea culpa...not that anyone probably gives a hoot, but the formula I gave above WILL NOT calculate bullet energy in foot lbs 8O ...it's simply the kinetic energy formula in Joules...I also messed up the order of operations while trying to get it all on one line. It should be read "one half the mass times the velocity squared" or Ke = ((.5)(Mass)) x (Velocity^2).

To get bullet energy in foot lbs, we need to use this formula: Mass of bullet (grains) times the velocity squared(feet per second), then divide the result by the constant 450,400.

Sorry for the confusion (if anyone actually read the post :lol: )

Jim
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby novice » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:52 am

Jim and Thomas,

In my opinion, if there is one element of the Ruth story that has been neglected, it is the skull forensics angle. You guy are exploring largely unplowed virgin ground. There is a lot of forensics information on the internet now that wasn’t available in the past.

All we really have to go on are the photos of the skull but maybe some reasonable conclusions can be reached. I never did like the shape or size of the entrance wound or of the exit wound for that matter, being irrefutably evidence of a gunshot.

When I tried to research this several years ago, I never got past the types of guns and ammo in use in the 1920’s. I’m just not that familiar with firearms and I bogged down quickly. I’m sure there are people knowledgeable in this area but it’s not me. From the type of gun and ammo would follow the sizes, shape, weight, and exit velocity of the shot.

With that type of information available it would seem that we might then begin to analyze the wound itself!

Garry

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Wed Mar 07, 2018 2:54 pm

Hi Garry,

All good points. I believe it’s impossible to say, with the information we have, what caused those holes in Ruth’s skull.

I’ve amassed quite the collection of papers from the internet dealing with non-shotgun gunshot wounds to the head. Without exception, they all agree with what Thomas has already found: That even lower velocity modern ammunition makes small holes with visible coning. This is what lead me to wonder if Dr. Hrdlicka was thinking about Minie or round balls.

In Thomas’ latest book, he makes some unavoidable conclusions. Here we have information from Hrdlicka, an MD…also included are the observations of a modern Forensic Investigator, who looked at the photographs …and Thomas himself, a Physiologist…the most important take-aways for me are:

1. The holes probably weren’t caused post-mortem
2. It’s unlikely that they were caused by mechanical damage in floodwaters
3. No signs of large animal predation

My own background is in engineering, which is a double-edged sword…I may understand physics to a certain degree, but it’s nowhere near enough to even guess at what happened.

I do have some knowledge of firearms and ammunition. It wouldn't surprise me to see almost pure lead bullets in use in the 1930’s. This isn’t done today due to barrel leading issues and the desire for bullets to stay together, penetrate, and transfer the maximum possible energy. Lots of people have used wheel weights, fishing sinkers, even lead ingots, to make their own ammunition. I’ve done it, but don’t recommend it (due to barrel leading and inconsistent terminal performance).

I’ve also seen fairly modern rifle and handgun bullets that are lead and have a hollow base (like a Minie ball). One good example of this is .38 cal. wadcutter ammunition. I’ve seen wadcutters that not only have a hollow base, but the cavity extends well up towards the front of the bullet. Many old timers swore by them for hunting. Elmer Keith was one person that liked the hunting performance of wadcutter and semi-wadcutter lead bullets.

Another Minie ball-like bullet is a shotgun slug. Slugs have to be very soft so as not to cause barrel bulging or failure in a gun with a tight choke. So they are designed from the start to deform. Most shotgun slugs have a hollow base designed to seal the bore and prevent gasses from escaping, while also allowing the slug to be compressed in the choke of the bore.

The reason I bring all this up, is I’m guessing Hrdlicka knew what skull damage from a Minie ball looked like, and it somehow informed his decision that the holes were caused by a firearm. I may be totally wrong about that, which is why I’d like to get a peek at his notes or letters on the subject. While black powder, muzzeloading Minie balls probably weren’t in use very much in the 1930’s, there were bullets (wadcutters, slugs, etc) that were so much like a Minie ball, they probably would even perform very well if used in a muzzleloader of the right caliber. I believe this type of round could cause major, devastating bone fractures like Ruth's, but it's only conjecture on my part.

Getting windy here, so I better stop. Best Regards, Jim
Jim R.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:29 pm

Jim,

A number of years ago I contacted the Smithsonian, as they have Hldlicka's notes. I have that information somewhere, but suggest you contact them and get copies of what you want. I don't know if I have the energy to look them up.

Good luck,

Joe

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:31 pm


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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Joe Ribaudo » Wed Mar 07, 2018 3:44 pm

Here's more:

https://ajnews.com/adolph-ruth-a-tragedy/

You may have already seen this.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby novice » Thu Mar 08, 2018 7:35 am

Jim,

We are presently traveling and I have all of my research on a desktop at home. I'm using my wife's laptop and i didn't think I had the Hrdlicka info with me but I checked a back up disc we had with our things and walla! I will e-mail you a PDF file if you will pm your e-mail address.

We were in the Texas Ranger Museum yesterday and I saw a display that confused me (Not hard to do). The display had a Wilson Colt 45 and a note that it was the most POWERFUL hand weapon available until the Ruger 357 Magnum was produced. I'm doing this from memory so I probably have something screwed up but I understood that a man named Wison first suggested modification in 1846 to a colt model that was the forerunner of the Wilson Colt and the 357 Magnum Ruger was introduced in 1934. Anyway my question: What characteristics determine the power of a gun? I know the Colt they had on display was HEAVY. Would it have something to do with the sturdiness of the gun features and how large a powder charge could be used?

Thanks for the info above, I'll make a pest of myself with questions now.

Garry

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:32 pm

Hi Garry, thanks for digging that PDF up, I will PM you with my e-mail address.

I believe (since you were at the Ranger museum) that you saw a Walker Colt, (vice Wilson?). The Rangers were reportedly the first to use the Patterson Colt in combat, and their leader (Walker) put his head together with Samuel Colt and the Walker Colt revolver was born. It was a .44 I believe. Yes it is heavy! It’s a muzzleloader.

I’m not sure about a Ruger .357, Elmer Keith actually invented that round…I think he worked with S&W on that, but I might be confusing that with the .44 Special/Mag…perhaps it’s in reference to the fact people appreciate Ruger revolvers as being sturdy? I love them, I have a 50th anniversary Blackhawk, which is the only year they ever made them with a flat backstrap and adjustable rear sight (usually only came on the Super Blackhawk, another revolver I love but passed that one along to my nephew, that one is a .44 mag vice .357 mag). That 50th Anniv. Model also is a Bisley (modified grip and lowered hammer spur) which supposedly helps target shooters, but I personally see no real difference.

As far as handgun power, I think that has caused more arguments than any other subject. I would only say that the Walker Colt probably was GENERALLY the most powerful handgun of its day (the Brits had huge hunting pistols for African game that were powerful, I don’t remember if they came before the Walker, but I think they did)…and the .357 Magnum was a revolutionary leap forward in ballistics…

I guess in the end, the only thing that matters is how much energy gets dumped into the target. For example you could have a really “powerful” bullet that zips right through the target without transferring much energy (like a NATO 5.56 armor piercing round). On paper it may have more energy in foot pounds than some other bullet…but if the other bullet is designed to dump all its energy into the target (say a hollowpoint, or something like a Nosler Ballistic Tip) then even if it has less energy it’s going to be a better, and some would say “more powerful” round.

Sounds like you’re hitting some good spots, I’ve never been to the Ranger museum, would love to see that. I did see the Alamo once!

Best regards, Jim
Jim R.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby ThomasG » Thu Mar 15, 2018 3:47 pm

To all,

Just a note on Ruth's remains and the items found with it. Ot more precisely those missing three dollars and the plate from his bad leg. 1931-'32 was near teh hright of the Great Depression. There was no New Deal, and for many not much hope. Consider that those three dollars had a much greater value than we might think. When I compare past values to current value (of the dollar) I use two websites.As you can see it is comprehensive and sometimes a bit confusing. But it seems one of the best I have found. SO in 1931-32 just how much was $3 in today's terms?

Measuring Worth

(https://www.measuringworth.com/calculators/uscompare/)

A simple Purchasing Power Calculator would say the relative value is $47.30. This answer is obtained by multiplying $3 by the percentage increase in the CPI from 1931 to 2016.
This may not be the best answer.

The best measure of the relative value over time depends on if you are interested in comparing the cost or value of a Commodity , Income or Wealth , or a Project . For more discussion on how to pick the best measure, read the essay "Explaining the Measures of Worth."

If you want to compare the value of a $3.00 Commodity in 1931 there are four choices. In 2016 the relative:
real price of that commodity is $47.30
real value of that commodity is $110.00
labor value of that commodity is $140.00 (using the unskilled wage) or $187.00 (using production worker compensation)
income value of that commodity is $277.00


If you want to compare the value of a $3.00 Income or Wealth , in 1931 there are five choices. In 2016 the relative:
historic standard of living value of that income or wealth is $47.30
contemporary standard of living value of that income or wealth is $110.00
labor earnings of that commodity is $140.00 (using the unskilled wage) or $187.00 (using production worker compensation)
economic status value of that income or wealth is $277.00
economic power value of that income or wealth is $722.00


If you want to compare the value of a $3.00 Project in 1931 there are four choices. In 2016 the relative:
historic opportunity cost of that project is $39.10
contemporary opportunity cost of that project is $110.00
labor cost of that project is $140.00 (using the unskilled wage) or $187.00 (using production worker compensation)
economy cost of that project is $722.00

Another website is less comprehensive, but it is simpler to use: Historical Currency Conversions
(http://www.futureboy.us/fsp/dollar.fsp)

This site gives a value/buying power of $3.00 in 1931-32, as between$50 and $60 in 2018.

The point is we should not consider those $3 in our terms, but as a considerable windfall to someone in the early 1930s. My guesstimate is that the three dollars were simply pocketed by someone who had access to Ruth's remains. My guesstamite is the "silver plate" that was in his leg also had value. If it was only worth another $3 then one has a sizable windfall for the early 1930s.

Thomas

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby novice » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:22 am

Thomas

I have a question regarding the missing plate and silver dollars. IF they were removed from the remains of Adolph at the same time, it seems they were removed after the animals and elements had a chance to work their magic and expose the plate. This would identify the perpetrators as the individuals who discovered Ruth’s remains or at least someone who stumbled across the remains long after Adolph’s death?

Do you have a source that identifies the plate material as silver? I just don’t remember such a source.

I also don’t recall that there was an examination of the remains by doctors when they were brought back to Phoenix as was done when the skull was recovered. It seems like it would have been a simple matter to check to see if the bone contained screw holes. We can’t even be sure that the bones with the screw holes were recovered with the body. Maybe an animal simply drug it off, along with the plate so he could gnaw on it in peace.

Throw in Jim's image of Tex Barkley running around the mountains with all of Ruth's personal items and a bag of bones and we complicate matters considerably. 8O

I like Okun’s approach. I suspect we are complicating the story well beyond any reality and it will turn out to be all rather mundane and simple. :)

Garry

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby ThomasG » Mon Mar 19, 2018 9:25 am

Garry,

I agree. i.e., “we are complicating the story well beyond any reality and it will turn out to be all rather mundane and simple “

First RE: the “silver” plate inRuth’s leg. When I get the time I will dig into my files. That may be useful, it may not. Silver in metal inserts is often used as it has antibacterial properties. But, whether or not this was known in Ruth’s day I do not know. My guesstamie is that if it was it was only from the perspective of when a metal insert was use those that contained silver were more successful than ones that didn’t. meaning that if it was used it was likely not because they knew the reason it worked, just that it did. I may have misspoke, in that the “silver” plate may be something told to me. Again when I get the time and energy I’ll tear into my files.

For me the only “mysteries” are: i) Could Ruth have hiked to where is remains were found? Given: i) He left his hiking boots in camp. ii) His physical condition. and ii) With only a thermos of water?

As for the skull I must revise my initial conclusions (below). The only thing I can say with any certainty is the skull was not washed down Black Top Mesa to where it was found. This conclusion is not mine, but rather that of the forensic person in Oregon who viewed the photos of the skull. He noted immediately that the fragile nasal bones were intact.

My only other observation is that the skull, in what ever manner, was transported after considerable decomposition of the remains, as the jaw bone was left behind.

As for the question(s) concerning the holes in the skull, thanks to Joe’s posting of the link to Hrdlicka’s papers (https://anthropology.si.edu/naa/fa/Hrdlicka_Ales.pdf) I currently have questions I did not have before. When Carol and I visited the Smithsonian I inquired about Hrdlicka’s files/papers. I was told he took them with him. Dead end for that trip. That was/is clearly not the case. The primary source material, however, back then seemed out of reach. I relied on secondary information concerning Hrdlicka. That information contained information that Hrdlicka was a leading physical anthropologist, that he had worked on remains from Civil War battlefields and was thusly quite qualified to assess the holes in Ruth’s skull. Now that I have access to the catalogue of Hrdlicka’s I am much less certain of Hrdlicka’s expertise in forensic anthropology.

My reading of the index of Hrdlicka’s papers is that as a physical anthropologist he was mostly interested in the evolution of man. the origins of different ethnic groups or races, and such. All of which is a long way from what we today would call forensic anthropology. The one box of papers identified as “Bone Studies, 1893-1940sdoes not seem to offer much encouragement. The description of the contents begins:

This series consists of osteometric measurements on various human bones. It includes original measurements, calculations, derived comparative tables, drawings, adding machine tapes, manuscripts, and photographs. Sometimes the measurements are organized by bone; sometimes by race, tribe, or ethnic group; and sometimes by geographic area. Related materials may be dispersed through several folders. For some material, several versions or copies are included. Most specimens examined are in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History. The specimens of Whites were usually from the George S. Huntington collection, originally in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York and later in the Smithsonian.


All of which makes me wonder just how qualified Hrdlicka was in coming to the conclusions he did.

T

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby don » Mon Mar 19, 2018 10:46 am

Hrdlicka was an archivist,not an expert in gunshot wounds. his opinions on the holes in ruths skull was worth little more than the average asshole on the streets opinion would be.one wonders why the skull wasnt sent to the appropriate people to form an opinion on the holes? i could suggest a reason but it would only be pure speculation and as such would be only be as valid/invalid as hrdlickas "speculation".
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:13 pm

Ales Hrdlicka was considered one of the foremost experts on the human skeleton in the US, if not the world. He graduated from two medical colleges, then studied for 4 months in Paris under one of the era’s leading forensic scientists (Brouardel). Brouardel is considered one of the fathers of medical forensics. It was this training he referenced in his affidavit of having “medico legal” training. I doubt that any MD local to Phoenix in 1931 would have this kind of resume to bring to the investigation of Ruth’s death, or could have provided a better qualified opinion as to how Ruth died.
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby don » Tue Mar 20, 2018 8:47 am

Makes one wonder why someone with those qualifications couldnt give a DEFINITIVE answer as to whether they were bullet holes. makes one wonder how he could miscalculate the skeletons/skulls age . as i understand it Erwin Ruth gave the skull to hrdlicka to examine in a private agreement. Erwin Ruth wanted/believed that his father was murdered ,and as hrdlicka was no doubt being paid for his examination ,maybe ,just maybe Erwin got the report he had paid for. but that aside ,in a case where a possible murder had or might have been comitted its strange that the local authorities /police didnt designate to whom or where the skull was sent to ,and examined by....maybe because there was very little point in so doing....for obvious reasons.
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby Potbelly Jim » Tue Mar 20, 2018 10:14 am

Hi Don,

All good points, as usual. It was a strange event, no disagreement there. A couple of points:

Maricopa and Pinal counties were relative backwaters in 1931. Keep in mind that the City of Phoenix was not involved as it was out of their jurisdiction. So we had county Sheriffs and county coroners, not city folk.

Most county coroners were just regular doctors who were on call to make a judgment call on how someone died. They were not trained CSI Investigators. Neither were the Sheriffs.

Nobody local (including 3 doctors) could identify the skull. None of them (the 3 doctors or Odd Halseth, the leader of the expedition and the guy who had the skull) had ever seen Ruth. Brownie Holmes seems to be the only person willing to go on record that he thought it was Ruth. Brownie said he thought it was Ruth’s skull, and it had not been there (where they found it) the last time he passed by that area.

So they basically had an unknown skull. Odd Halseth was a prominent citizen of Arizona, and the doctors and Sheriffs seemed to have let him handle it. After all, nobody at this point had any definite reason to believe it was Ruth’s skull, or that any crime had been committed.
Halseth forwarded the skull with his conclusions, supported by the 3 doctors that looked at it: It was an old person, could be white or indian, and the skull could be fresh or old. Not much to go on back there in old AZ.

A common misconception, and one that I held before Garry sent me the stuff that Joe got from Hrdlicka’s papers (thank you guys!!) is that Halseth mailed the skull to Hrdlicka. Halseth rightly assumed that nobody in AZ had a chance of identifying the skull if it was Ruth’s. So he sent it to the family to see if they could find a way of identifying it, or ruling it out. He actually mailed it to Neil Judd, an acquaintance in DC, with instructions to contact Ruth’s son and Hrdlicka for identification. It seems that it was just luck that Erwin Ruth just happened to live in DC, and Halseth knew Hrdlicka worked there, so it was a golden opportunity for a trained anthropologist to make an identification in concert with the family and/or family physicians. At the time, Halseth was unsure if Hrdlicka was even in town, as he frequently traveled overseas for long periods of time. Hrdlicka was in town, and used stereo photography and measurements (technically, this is called photogrammetry, which can be used to make really accurate measurements from photographs) to be “reasonably certain” (his words) that the skull was Ruth’s, and his final opinion was that Ruth “probably met his death by means of a shot from a gun.”

Now here’s where the fun begins…the chain of custody on the evidence has been irretrievably lost, the crime scene altered, and only parts of the body were later recovered. So when the Sheriff’s Dept. looks at this, the crime (if there was one) was already at least 6 months old, and no motive could be found for murder, and no case could be made with the skull as it might have been successfully challenged and not allowed as evidence by the defense (if anyone could be found to pin it on). It’s no wonder it was never pursued by the county attorney or Sheriff’s office.

Best regards, Jim
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Postby don » Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:03 am

thanks jim....heres a question...any idea from who or where the story came from that Ruth's skull was POSITIVELY identifid by Ruth's Dentist? If it came from Ely then that practically renders the rest of his(Ely's) story worthless when added to his Doc Thorne supporting evidence of the existence of the LDM doesnt it? If the evidence was there,then there would be no need to make this stuff up..what was the agenda? And also why didnt the James Cravey "incident" capture the attention of the LDMers in the same way as Ruth's did ? was it because the previous generation of hysterics who had whipped up the frenzy -for whatever reason,and had faded away and been largely replaced by a new generation of newshounds and conspiracy theorists who perhaps had bigger fish to fry?..All aspects of this legend -the more you look into them the less feasible they seem to become....is it all one giant concoction ? to me at least it seems it may very well be so....after all it wouldnt be the first time some enterprising journalist has sent his readers on a wild goose chase -would it?
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