A case of robbery and murder

On June 30, 1855, only a few months after the lynching of Edward Griffiths, four men snuck into the rooms of Thomas C. Brunton of Yorktown in the dead of night. Brunton was known to have $12,000 stored there in a safe. He awoke to find one of the men standing over him with an axe and was told that they only wanted the cash. Brunton did as he was told but when the men left with his money he grabbed a pistol and followed them, only to be knocked senseless by a waiting bandit.

Goya, War

For some reason no clues were ever found as to who the thieves were, but soon a popular belief evolved that the crooks were respected members of the community. Discussions on the subject became quite heated and accusations were thrown around with little or no proof. But when a gunsmith from Algerine Camp named Kittering opined that W. C. Worth, the justice of the peace in Algerine, could have been involved in the burglary, Worth went at once to Kittering’s place to demand an explanation. Several minutes after Worth went inside shouts, followed by several shots, were heard and then a cry of murder from Kittering. Worth soon came outside but Kittering was found dead on the floor.

The Great Train Robbery (1903)

No good reason for Kittering’s accusation of Worth was ever established but the popular belief that those of influence had been involved in the Brunton robbery became more evident as Brunton was subjected to a series of outrages over the next five years, all seemingly designed to drive him from the area and which resulted in his murder in 1860. But Worth, while he was put on trial before Judge Creaner for the murder of Kittering and acquitted, was remarkably never subjected to any application of the lynch law processes that were the normal occasions in Tuolumne County. And after his trial Worth promptly returned to the east where it was said he became a minister of the gospel.

 

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