Superstition Mountains List Of Deaths

Updated: Oct 4, 2020




Located in Central Arizona’s Tonto National Forest, Superstition Mountains is an apt name for the range, as it’s home to a number of mysteries and legends. Its history dates back 9,000 years ago, with some of its many inhabitants including the Apache Indians, Spanish explorers, Mexican gold miners and American trappers. One story is of the “Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine,” about a man named Jacob Waltz who supposedly knew where the world’s richest mine was.



Here is a list of deaths in the Superstition Mountains Arizona

1848 - 2013



1848: The Peralta massacre was the alleged killing of a Mexican family by Apaches. It is generally featured as an element of the legend of the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine. All were killed except for one or two Peralta family members who escaped into Mexico. This area is known today as the Massacre Grounds.


1870's: Prospector Jacob Weiser, partner of the Dutchman Jacob Waltz, died of wounds received by attacking Apaches after escaping the mountains to a nearby ranch.


1880: Two soldiers who had shown rich gold ore in Florence went into the Superstitions and disappeared. Their remains were found with a bullet hole each in their skulls. (This may be an incident which occurred in the Four Peaks Region)


1881: A prospector by the name of Joe Dearing, who was working as a part time bartender in Pinal, heard the stories of the two dead soldiers and began to look for the lost mine. He soon returned to Pinal, claiming that he had found an old mine, describing it as “the most God-awful rough place you can imagine… a ghostly place.” Dearing continued to work as a bartender until he could save enough money for the excavation. To make even more money he then went to work at the Silver King Mine. Just a week later he was killed in a cave-in without ever disclosing the location of the mine to anyone.


1884: Mr. Pedro Ortega was found shot dead some thirty feet from the home of Jacob Waltz, dead of shotgun wounds. Waltz later told the sheriff that Ortega's partner shot him after "borrowing" Waltz's shotgun, but many believed that Waltz himself had killed Ortega.


Another report is of two Soldiers who found a mine and later were found murdered. It is said through the years is that they are buried not far from the Quarter Circle U Ranch. (Rumor is that Author Barry Storm had made the entire story up.)


1885: On September 29th Joe Deering also spelled Dearing died. Deering was injured a couple days prior to his death when a huge boulder crushed his leg in an underground mining accident at the Silver King Mine. Deering said he had only worked the mine twice, but always went out through the desert and not the mountains for fear of running into the old Jacob Waltz.


1891: Jacob Waltz, known as "The Dutchman," who died of pneumonia on October 25th, in Phoenix, leaving beneath his deathbed a candle box containing 48 pounds of rich gold ore. The Legend was born.


1892: The last known death caused by an Apache attack in the Superstitions, Charles Dobie. The 13 year old was murdered, supposedly by Indians. The house had been ransacked, provisions taken, and other evidences of a visit by Indians. A short distance from the house the body of Dobie was found, shot through the body twice, and his head crushed and limbs mangled by heavy boulders that Apache had stoned him with.


1896: The old “Hermit” Elisha Marcus Reavis died alone along the trail about four miles south of his mountain home around April 10th. The decomposed body, half-eaten by wild animals, were found just off of Roger’s Canyon. (Known as Grave Canyon today.) A coroner's jury was summoned from Florence to the site. It was decided that Reavis had died of natural causes.


1910: The skeletal remains of a female were found in an elevated cave in the Superstition Mountains. Pieces of tiny gold nuggets were found next to the remains, but no remnant of any kind of clothing.


1931: Adolph Ruth, a retired 78-year-old veterinarian and avid treasure hunter, arrived at the Barkley Ranch on May 13th, with a “Peralta Map.” A search for his body commenced when he failed to return two weeks after having been escorted to his camp site. Almost a year later his remains were discovered on the eastern slope of Black Top Mesa, on January 8th, 1932, with what appeared to be two bullet holes in his skull.


1934: The Superstition Mountains claimed the life of Adam Stewart.


1936: In December Roma O'Hal, mountain hobbyist and broker from New York, died from a fall when he was searching for the Lost Dutchman mine.


1937: An old prospector by the name of Guy “Hematite” Frink was lucky enough to return from the mountain with a number of rich gold samples. In November though, he was found shot in the stomach on the side of a trail in, or near La Barge Canyon. Next to Frink's decomposing body was a small sack of gold ore.


1945: Author of THUNDER GOD’S GOLD, Barry Storm, claimed to have narrowly escaped from a mysterious sniper. Storm speculated that Adolph Ruth might have been a victim of the same sniper. (Storm passed away in 1971, in the Veterans Hospital in Long Beach, California. He never found the mine.)




Article on Jame's A Cravey Lost Dutchman Mine.
James A. Cravey Superstition Mountain Death.

1947: James A. Cravey (Article Above)


1949: On November 9th, prospector James Kidd went to work in the Superstition Mountains and never returned. It was thought that he had fallen down a canyon. He was officially declared deceased in 1956.


1951: The body of Dr. John Burns of Oregon was found with a single bullet hole through him. Even though there were no powder burns and a ballistics expert testified the shot had been from some distance. The “official” ruling was that the death was accidental.


1952: A Joseph Kelly, a native of Ohio, went into the Superstition mountains and vanished.


Two California youths, Ross Bley and Charles Harshbarger, also disappeared in the Superstitions that year.



Article On Charles Massey Death Superstition Mountains
Charles Massey Death

1955: Charles Massey (Article Above)


1956: A man from Brooklyn New York reported to police that his brother, Martin Zywotho, who he believed was searching for the Lost Dutchman Mine, had been missing for several weeks. A month later Zywotho's body was found with a bullet hole above his right temple. Although his gun was found under his body, the death would eventually be ruled a suicide.


1958: A deserted campsite was discovered on the northern edge of the mountain. At the campsite were a bloodstained blanket, a Geiger counter, a gun cleaning kit but no gun, cooking utensils, and some letters, from which the names and addresses had been torn from. No trace of the camp’s occupant has ever found.


1959: Fortune hunters Stanley Hernandez and Benjamin Ferreira thought they had discovered the elusive mine during their trek into the mountains. Whether out of greed, or perhaps some kind of dispute over how they would handle their newfound wealth, Hernandez killed Ferreira. Hernandez later learned that what the friends had thought was the motherload was actually pyrite, better known as Fool’s Gold.


Two men who were hiking in the Superstitions that year became involved in some kind of dispute. Lavern Rowlee was shot by Ralph Thomas, who reported that he had been attacked by Rowlee and shot the other man in self-defense.


1960: A beheaded skull was discovered in the Superstitions Mountains with two bullet holes. The skull turned out to be the remains of Franz Harrer, a student from Austria.


Robert St. Marie was killed by prospector Edward Piper.


1961: A family picnicking near