Wildrose Canyon Murder, Death Valley, California

 A local Desert Rat found and marked Ed's grave a few years ago.

  According to Tom Murray in his book; "Seldom Seen Slim", During the Depression, Death Valley Prospector Ed McSperrin was murdered by Jimmy Madden, alias Jimmy Clebourne. 

  Tom states that he was a personal friend of Ed and knew what a nice guy Ed was. According to Tom, Ed McSperrin took in Madden who was hungry and had no place to stay. Ed allowed Madden to stay for several months, but eventually Ed's welcome wore out and he asked Madden to move on. Tom Murray believes this led to Madden killing Ed McSperrin.

  John Thorndike and Pete Auguerberry made a coffin out of rough planks and dug a grave for Ed by the road that runs through Wildrose Canyon near the springs where Ed had his cabin.

Inyo Independent Newspaper reported the results of the jury trial on November 26, 1932;


"After waiting seventy-seven hours for a jury to decide his fate, Jimmy Clebourne, charged with  killing Ed McSperrin in Wildrose Canyon July 17, squared his shoulders and walked out of the county jail a free man Tuesday afternoon. The case went to the jury of ten men and two women Saturday at noon and the verdict was returned late Tuesday afternoon. It was reported that during the entire deliberation of the jury the vote stood eleven for acquittal and one for conviction. During his long hours of suspense Clebourne, in appearance, aged many years. There was no witnesses to the killing of McSperrin. Evidence was introduced that a quarrel took place. McSperrin, a powerful man, said to have an ungovernable temper, was reported to have made threats against Clebourne. Following an altercation in the lonely desert cabin, Clebourne ran outside, picking up his gun as he ran. McSperrin appeared at the door with a cocked rifle, whereupon Clebourne shot without raising his gun to his shoulder. McSperrin exclaimed, "You got me that time." Clebourne, doubtful that he had hit him, waited awhile before looking through a window. He saw McSperrin kneeling beside the bed with his head in his arms, apparently dead and went immediately to notify deputy George Griest. Clebourne maintained that he shot in self-defense."

Clebourne (Madden) actually waited till the next day to go to see Deputy George Griest in Ballarat. 

  After the acquittal, Madden returned to Wildrose Canyon to make camp, but the prospectors there ordered him to leave the Wildrose Mining District immediately. Madden headed over to Keeler where he stole coal from his neighbor. The neighbor locked up his coal supply, this in turn  infuriated Madden, so one night he knocked on the neighbor's door, when the neighbor answered, Madden stabbed him with a 8" butcher knife. 

  Madden was tried and sent to San Quentin where he eventually died. The neighbor died two years later from his stab wound.

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