Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bitterroot man Hopes to Uncover the Truth about Billy the Kid

Bitterroot man Hopes to Uncover the Truth about Billy the Kid

Blowing snow cast a pall over a small horse pasture outside the kitchen window of Dale Tunnell’s rural home. In the distance, a line of traffic crawled south on U. S. Highway 93.

Florence, MT (PRWEB) April 24, 2006

Blowing snow cast a pall over a small horse pasture outside the kitchen window of Dale Tunnell’s rural home. In the distance, a line of traffic crawled south on U. S. Highway 93.

Tunnell flipped through a box of papers on a small table in the kitchen, choosing a copy of a letter dated March 27, 1881, from W. Bonney to the governor of New Mexico Territory.

“Dear Sir: For the last time I ask, will you keep your promise? I start below tomorrow. Send answer by bearer.”

Soon after sending the letter, for which he received no reply, Bonney better known as Billy the Kid killed two deputies in his escape from the Lincoln County (N. M.) Courthouse. Had he remained in custody, Bonney would likely have been hanged for murder. Instead, he was shot and killed by Sheriff Pat Garrett that July.

The piece of correspondence is one small part of a historical puzzle that Tunnell, a retired federal investigator, has been attempting to solve with a former sheriff, a mayor and others, all from New Mexico.

The group has uncovered new physical evidence, Tunnell said recently, and has even exhumed the body of a man who died in 1937 and who claimed to be Billy the Kid. DNA samples from the body are being compared with samples taken from blood stains on a carpenter’s bench that supposedly held Bonney’s body after he was shot by Garrett.

“I want to set the record straight. If Billy the Kid, from 1881 to 1937, lived the life of an honest man, a hardworking fool, then I say he paid his debt to society,” Tunnell said.

Tunnell knows quite a bit about honest men, debts to society and crime. He had a long and varied law enforcement career, starting as a deputy sheriff in Lincoln County in 1974. He was also an internal affairs investigator with the Arizona Department of Corrections. In 1996, he retired from his tenure as a federal agent with the U. S. Department of Interior.

Tunnell also earned a Ph. D. in forensic criminology and is pursing a second doctorate in general psychology.

About four years ago, he founded Forensitec LLC. Six months ago, he moved to the Bitterroot Valley. The small firm’s main business is training; its clients include the Missoula Police Department. Tunnell also consults with police departments on active investigations. He recently helped solve a New Mexico homicide investigation by studying statements given by suspects and witnesses.

That’s his day job. Then there’s that box of Billy the Kid artifacts.

Tunnell’s interest in the famous outlaw was piqued when he read a 1993 book by Helen Airy entitled, “Whatever Happened to Billy the Kid: Did He Really Die? Maybe Not!”

According to Airy, Billy the Kid, who had several aliases, survived the 1881 shootout with Garrett and traveled west to Arizona to become a rancher near Zuni Pueblo, using the name John Miller. He died in 1937. Friends and family said he maintained and they agree that he was Billy the Kid.

Lincoln County Sheriff Tom Sullivan and Capitan Mayor Steven Sederwall also found the story intriguing. In 2003, Sullivan officially reopened the case of Billy the Kid’s escape from the courthouse. An official investigation had never been conducted into the deaths of the two deputies, J. W. Bell and Robert Olinger.

“I just decided to use modern-day technology to find out what happened,” said Sullivan, who has since retired.

Working in their spare time and with their own resources, Sullivan, Sederwall and Tunnell tracked down documents and materials.

Sederwall did most of the legwork. He used census and genealogy records to find the descendants of the people who lived in Fort Sumner when Garrett shot Billy at the home of Pete Maxwell. Sederwall found a washbasin with a bullet hole made by Garrett’s second shot, which went wide. He found the carpenter’s bench where Billy was taken after the shooting.

The investigators also found the burial plots of the two deputies.

“It’s just good police work,” Sullivan said.

Then they started looking into John Miller’s story.

After getting permission to exhume Miller’s body, DNA samples were taken. The DNA analysis will be done by Dr. Henry Lee, founder of the forensic science program at the University of New Haven and chief emeritus of the Connecticut State Police, Sullivan said.

What if the DNA from Miller matches the wooden bench?

“We’ll change history. I don’t know. Arizona would have the real Billy the Kid,” Sullivan said.

“If it’s a match, it’s a done deal,” Tunnell said.

If not, there’s more work to do, he said. It could mean that Miller was not Billy the Kid. Or that the body exhumed was not Billy’s.

“Even if it comes back positive, there will be more work to do,” Tunnell added. He hopes to find conclusive documentation placing Miller at or near Fort Sumner in July of 1881 or connecting his wife, Isadora, to a relationship there.

Airy asserted, and Tunnell believes, that Billy the Kid left Fort Sumner in the months after the shooting with Isadora and that the two married in a small town nearby. Tunnell has found records of a priest with a name very similar to the one Airy collected from oral histories by Miller’s family and friends. He has requested marriage records from the priest but has not yet received them.

Tunnell has found enough material to poke holes in the official histories, he said. Once one point has been debunked, the whole house of cards begins to look flimsy, he said.

“A lot of it is the basis for concluding that the whole episode at Pete Maxwell’s house was fabricated,” he said.

It’s possible, Tunnell said, that Garrett conspired with Billy to fake the death. Maybe Billy never laid, wounded, on the carpenter’s bench. Maybe another body was buried in Billy’s place.

Tunnell has another motive for his research. He would like to confirm the story put forth by Airy. Like him, she was an amateur historian who bucked the official story. Academics scoffed at her account.

“I’d like to prove her correct,” he said.

Every few years, the story of Billy the Kid rears its head, said Don Bullis, a volunteer at the New Mexico Office of the State Historian. Bullis has written several books on New Mexico history, teaches adult education classes on the subject, writes a weekly local history column and edits an online history magazine. He also spent a career in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff and detective.

Bullis tends to believe the historical record of Billy the Kid’s death. Conspiracies are impractical and don’t hold up over time, he said. Sixteen known witnesses attended Billy’s funeral.

“Not one of those people ever recanted. What motive would the community have had to enter into this vast conspiracy? Billy had no money. There was no payoff. He wasn’t all that popular. There’s no sense in the notion that he was not actually killed that night,” Bullis said.

A few items are continually dredged up to support the conspiracy theorists, Bullis said. One of the deputies with Garrett reportedly said he killed the wrong guy. Also, the coroner’s report into the death of William Bonney was never properly filed in Santa Fe.

As for the procedural omission in the coroner’s report, it was no oddity, considering the corruption of the territory, Bullis said.

He also objects to romanticizing Billy the Kid, who he considers a psychopath. By a quirk of history and popular culture, a minor outlaw has enjoyed far more than his share of attention, all unearned, Bullis said.

“This isn’t criminal justice. This is history,” he said.

Tunnell laughed at the notion that he is a Billy the Kid apologist. At the same time, he acknowledged that it’s probably true.

Neither he nor Sullivan condone the murdering of deputies by escaping felons, but Billy the Kid lived in a different time under decidedly different circumstances, they said. New Mexico Territory in the 1870s and 1880s had nothing like the rule of law. The highest ranking territorial officials were corrupt. Deputized one day, Billy was shot at the next by a posse of deputized gunmen.

In the Old West, Billy the Kid might just have been a decent guy with a ready trigger finger.

Or not.

Tunnell doesn’t mind spending the time and effort it takes to find out.


Www. Forensitec. com

Http://www. helenair. com/articles/2006/03/13/montana/a05031306_01.txt (http://www. helenair. com/articles/2006/03/13/montana/a05031306_01.txt)


Internet Marketing - Inhouse or Outsource

Internet Marketing - Inhouse or Outsource

Recent research statistics show that 20 to 25% of the average hotel’s reservations originate from some interaction by the guest through the Internet.

Parsippany, NJ (PRWEB) October 14, 2005

Recent research statistics show that 20 to 25% of the average hotel’s reservations originate from some interaction by the guest through the Internet. This interaction is either as a part of the selection process or a direct online reservation. This percentage is based on actual bookings and it does not consider the telephone bookings that are generated from Internet searches and references. In the months ahead, hoteliers will realize more than half of all their reservations are a direct result of Internet searches and information.

Will these reservations come through a hotel’s proprietary website, the brand website or a 3 rd party website? The answer is yes! Yes, online reservations will be made through all of these channels from travelers, travel planners and secure extranets that are connected to various Internet channels. How you market your hotel on each of these channels and probably some new ones, such as the meta search engines is crucial to your business. Successful hotel marketing requires a solution for each.

Gone are the days when hotel marketing was a bold listing in a directory, a 4 color brochure and a connection to the GDS. The amazing shift in sales channels and buying patterns over the past five years has turned the hospitality industry upside down. I would use the term “paradigm shift”, but that is way too trendy.

Now is the time to re-evaluate marketing strategies! Hotel sales are up, room rates are up and the percentage of guest booking through the Internet is escalating at a record pace. The battle of the heavy weights for the guest bookings is on between the brands and the 3 rd party merchant sites. The hotelier has to decide what level of inventory and rates will generate the best return from the brand’s Internet and GDS bookings compared to giving away half of their rate to a 3 rd party merchant because they do drive sales volume. Mr. Hotelier, remember when the concern was whether to pay a 15% commission to the travel agencies?

There is no doubt that the sales channel for today and even more for tomorrow is the Internet. Hospitality marketing has changed significantly and it will continue to change as the Internet and search engines change. It doesn’t matter anymore whether your hotel is a five star deluxe in Manhattan or a two star at interstate exit 25 or whether you are a mountain resort or an urban conference center. Your website content, search engine position and link affiliations are part of the selection and reservation process by your future guests.

The strategic business decision facing most hoteliers today is whether to take on the personnel and related overhead that is required to manage an effective Internet marketing program, to rely on their brand or to outsource and manage the relationship with a professional Internet marketing agency. There are clearly a growing number of new online marketing tools that can help enable an in-house Internet marketing effort. And, the number of marketing agency choices is overwhelming.

For an effective in-house Internet marketing program, you will need a marketing staff, the demands far out weigh what one marketing manager can do. One person is needed to focus their efforts on managing your traditional marketing programs. Another person, possibly a webmaster, is needed to keep your website current, fresh and appealing. Add an eCommerce manager to manage your daily organic and paid search campaigns as well as interacting with the Webmaster and directing email promotions and broadcasts. And finally, someone has to analyze the Internet data to determine and define the changes and updates that are required so senior management can make an informed decision.

Then there is always the risk of a key marketing person leaving the company. This immediately creates an urgent need for replacement by someone who is proficient with the same Internet programs used by their predecessor or you will have a transition delay in your marketing until the new Internet services are implemented, not to mention termination of existing licenses and contracts.

Today’s web-based tools and on-line services are great, but they all require a certain technical aptitude, along with time and talent for creative design, system monitoring and interpreting results. Doing your own Internet marketing in-house definitely gives you control. On the other hand, your delays, mistakes or distractions will cost you significantly over time.

One alternative to an in-house eCommerce Department is to rely on your brand to market your property through a page or two for your hotel on their site. We all know the risk factor here. The brand’s marketing priorities focus on selling the brand and not your specific property or market. The strategy with most brands does not take into consideration such property specifics as location, local events and attractions, groups, supplemental services (dynamic packaging) or other factors that are unique to the property.

The brands are clearly improving in their Internet marketing efforts, but their values do not change. Their priority is to generate sales volume across all hotels based on the value perception of the brand, brand specific promotions, brand frequent stay programs and other brand specific programs. The brand is an essential element in any successful marketing plan much like and equal to the benefits from the 3 rd party sales channels. But, it can be a mistake to assume the brand is your Internet marketing solution.

Another alternative is to outsource your Internet marketing to an Internet Services Agency. But only when there are clearly defined expectation between you and the agency and a measurable set of benchmarks included in the service agreement.

You need to keep in mind, that the basic requirements for a good Internet marketing service are quit different from those that are generally available from traditional advertising agencies. The primary requirement, in addition to a definitive agreement, should be that their core competency is rooted in the hospitality or travel industry. Only those of us in the hospitality industry understand the challenges presented by the variable demands of owners, management companies and the day to day property level business operations. A service as critical as your Internet marketing demands that your supplier(s) clearly understand the unique demands from your guests and the value of each sales channel, including non-Internet channels.

The fundamental nature of the Internet, unlike traditional image or value marketing, is rooted in its ability to enable comparison by the shopper as well as its ability to search for customer/shopper/prospect relational criteria. This is why the importance of the Internet search engines and their peripheral services are so important. The search engines capitalize on the pure nature of the Internet’s ability to empower the customer/shopper to select a hotel based on key marketing factors (keyword or phrases) other than the brand name and to compare their findings.

The marketing factors include location, personal preferences, price, special promotional offers, property specific dynamic packaging and other property specific services and amenities. To implement a successful search engine marketing program either organic or paid requires elements that are not provided by most brands, marketing services that require constant updates of rich optimized website content, page updates, relevant links and more as the search engines change their algorithms on a daily basis. To create and maintain an effective Internet marketing program requires man-power with experience, an aptitude for automated systems and time or redundancy.

The true bottom line for every hotel’s Internet marketing program is measured by its conversion rate. This is the ratio of sales to website traffic and it has a direct impact your true benchmark of success. . . REVPAR and ROI results.

In conclusion, Internet marketing is strategic to your overall marketing efforts. Whether you manage hotel Internet marketing in-house with online tools, depend on your brand or you outsource, if you are not getting a minimum return of five to one on your invested time and cost, it is time to re-evaluate your strategy. You need a clear strategy with defined measurable expectations as well as some flexibility in your plan to accommodate unexpected changes resulting from new Internet services and opportunities.

Author: Richard Walsh, V. P. of Business Development for Lodging Interactive

Richard Walsh has directed travel and hospitality online marketing for more than 25 years, including executive management positions with Air France, Reed Elsevier Publishing, Lifestyle Resorts, Amadeus Global Travel Distribution, Wizcom (a Cendant Company), Innovata LLC and SECURE-RES. Richard has also operated his own successful travel companies; Travel Marketing Dynamics and Hotel Web Pro. You can reach Richard at 973-402-4970 or 770-533-9787.

About Lodging Interactive

Lodging Interactive is a leading provider of Internet Marketing Services to the travel and lodging industries. The company provides a-la-carte and full managed Internet Marketing Services to hundreds of hotels, resorts, timeshares and bed and breakfasts worldwide. The company also operates www. hotelBLAST. com, a self-service email marketing system and www. MyWebsitePromotions. com, a self-service online promotions marketing system.

Lodging Interactive clients include branded properties such as Marriott, Sheraton, Hilton, Radisson, Crowne Plaza Hotels, Doubletree Hotels, Candlewood Suites, Best Western, Wyndham Hotels and numerous independent properties. The company is headquartered in Parsippany, NJ and can be reached at 973-402-4970 or by visiting our website at www. LodgingInteractive. com or www. MyWebsitePromotions. com.