After working for a time building the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad between Tulsa and Red Fork, in Indian Territory, brothers John and Tom Mahoney returned home to Kansas in early 1886. Patrick McCarty and Joe Stutzer were vagabonds who rode with them.
Recognizing that the brothers were carrying their pay and valuable goods, the two passengers conspired to rob and kill the Mahoneys. Near the Kansas border, they carried out the plan and then burned their bodies and everything else they did not steal. They then sold what they had stolen, split up, and returned to their homes.
The bodies of the Mahoney brothers were found in March and ultimately identified. The investigation ultimately led to McCarty, who was living in Missouri. When he was arrested, he was found to be in possession of stolen property. Stutzer was never apprehnded.
Taken to Fort smith to stand trial, Patrick McCarty was convicted of murder in September 1886 and sentenced to death on October 30. After a respite brought hope of a reprieve, McCarty was hanged at Fort Smith on April 8, 1887.