William Leach

William Leach was a Confederate veteran who had moved west after the war, taking up residence in the Cherokee Nation.

His experiences during and after the war involved considerable amounts of violence. At one point he was acquitted of two murders. Once in the Cherokee Nation, he was convicted and jailed for selling alcohol and not paying taxes.

On March 8, 1875, Leach robbed and killed a man named Watkins, with whom he had been traveling. He tried to destroy any evidence by burning Watkins’ body.

On April 9, 1875, Watkins’ body was found. Investigation led back to Leach, who was known to have been with Watkins when he was last seen.

At trial in Fort Smith, William Leach was convicted on December 14, 1875, and sentenced to death on February 5, 1876. Along with five other men, he was hanged on April 21, 1876.

Author: Bill Lofquist

I am a sociologist and death penalty scholar at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I am also a Pittsburgh native. My present research focuses on the history of the death penalty in Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pa. This website is dedicated to collecting, analyzing, and sharing information about all Allegheny County cases in which a death sentence was imposed. Please share any questions or comments, errors or omissions, or other matters of interest related to these cases or to the broader history of the death penalty in Allegheny County.

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