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Old West Catacombs

Death Saved a Born Thief From a Felon’s Cell

Josie Evans, a Born Thief

JOSIE EVANS, A BORN THIEF, DEFEATS JUSTICE.
Wanted for Grand Larceny She Goes to the County Hospital 
to Pass Her Few Remaining Days.


September 12, 1898, Republican, Phoenix, Arizona – Occupying an unmarked grave in the City Cemetery is the body of Josie Evans, a once handsome woman, whose criminal career forms an interesting chapter in the police annals of this city. Possessed of many gifts, this woman might have had an enviable place in society had it not been for her criminal instincts and her weakness for taking the property of others. 

“Josie,” as she was familiarly known to the police, started on her criminal career about four years ago.  She was then a mere girl, but in a brief space of time she developed into one of the most daring female thieves that ever operated in this city.  Her scheme was to live out as a servant and while her employer was absent, she would steal as much property as she could conveniently carry.   About a year ago she visited a friend, who lived on Mason Street, and when she left several silk dresses and some jewelry belonging to the lady of the house were gone.  The police were notified and after
considerable trouble they found Josie in a lodging-house on Kearny Street. 

In her trunk were the missing articles, together with a miscellaneous assortment of stolen property. She was tried for the offense, and on conviction was sent to the House of Correction for six months. After her release she met a confiding woman who after listening to her story of poverty and hunger allowed her to occupy a room in her house. 

In reward for her kindness Josie during the absence of her benefactress selected the most suitable articles she could find in the house and, packing them in a trunk, sent for an express wagon.  The trunk containing the stolen articles was then placed in the wagon, and the driver ordered to take it to the woman’s room on Mission Street. 

While the police were scouring the city for the young woman word reached them that she was in the City and County Hospital, a victim of rapid consumption.  On account of her condition they allowed her to remain there, knowing that her death would be hastened by removing’ her to prison.  Her last appeal to the detective who visited her a short time afterward was that she be allowed to remain at the hospital, as she did not want to die in prison. 

“It is all over with me,” she remarked, as tears coursed down her sunken cheeks.  “For God’s sake don’t let them take me away. I know I am a born thief, but please let me die away from the gloomy surroundings of the jail.”  The detective assured her that she would not be removed, and vainly endeavored to cheer her up by telling her that her last victim had forgiven her.  Thursday night the unfortunate woman breathed her last, and her emaciated body was interred in potters’ field.

Josie Evans a born thief

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