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Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy

Butch & Sundance's Worcester connection

Phill Huxley
Here's a bizarre tale, involving an ex-Worcester RFC player, a Bolivian silver mine and the possible remains of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid....

Butch & Sundance facts

  • Butch Cassidy was born into a Mormon family in Utah in 1866 as Robert Leroy Parker.
  • The Sundance Kid grew up in Pennsylvania and was christened Harry Longabaugh.
  • Cassidy began his criminal career with a series of bank heists with his gang The Wild Bunch .
  • On the run, they moved to Buenos Aries in Argentina after stealing $65,000 in the Montana Train Robbery in 1900.
  • After a robbery on 4th November 1908, they hid out in San Vicente in Bolivia, where it is believed they were killed in a shootout.

Former Worcester Rugby Club player Gary Neale now lives in Bolivia and works at a silver mine, where the bones of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are believed to have been found. Gary fills us in on the details:

"I work for Pan American Silver Bolivia which operates the San Vicenete silver mine, which is where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed. We have found their bones and some of their personal property."

DNA testing

The bones were exhumed from the San Vicente graveyard, where they were buried in an unmarked grave.

The remains have have now been sent offshore for DNA testing to verify if they are indeed what is left of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

San Vicente is around 14 hours commute from The Bolivian capital of La Paz, actually lying closer to the Argentinian border than any major city.

However, if the bones are confirmed as genuine, Gary believes that San Vicente could become a major stop on the backpacker tourist trail and give the local economy a boost.

audio Hear Gary interviewed on BBC Hereford & Worcester >
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"Our intention is to start a tourist attraction which will create employment for the women in the area."

The final scene

Tombstone of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Tombstone in San Vincente, Bolivia

The two bandits died in 1908 after robbing the payroll courier of a mining company. Hiding out in San Vicente they celebrated, but soon were soon surrounded by Bolivian authorities. A shoot out followed and both men died, though legend has it that they committed suicide rather than die in the gunfight.

The story was later immortalised in the 1969 film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The Bolivian authorities initially banned the film because of the historical inaccuracies it contained.

Worcester winger

Gary Neale is Worcester born and bred and went to the Royal Grammar School where he played rugby and athletics. He played on the wing for Worcester RFC during the 1970s, though he confesses:

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's bones?
Butch Cassidy's bones?

 "Most of my memories are of getting drunk every Saturday!"

In 1999, he emigrated to Bolivia as head of a project to take over a Tin mine and Tin refinery, later opening a Thai restaurant.

A pint with a view

As well as working at the silver mine, Gary has also tried to bring some British culture to South America:

"I own a British pub called the George, which serves fish and chips, shepherds pie and bangers & mash. It's probably the highest British pub in the world at an altitude of around 3,700 metres!"

He still keeps in touch with what is going on back in Worcester and listens to our live commentary of Worcester Warriors matches live on the internet. He also recently returned to Worcester in April to attend the Worcester RFC reunion dinner, and the wedding of his daughter.

The mystery continues

Community meeting in San Vicente
Community meeting in San Vicente

Whatever the results of the DNA testing are, the mystery of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid's remains is set to run and run.

Some would like to believe that they escaped South America and lived out their final days back in the Wild West.

Others like Gary Neale and the residents of San Vicente, believe that they were lain to rest in Bolivia.

Whatever the truth, the legend of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid now has a Worcester connection!

last updated: 05/09/05
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