Arthur R. Manby was one of the most colorful figures in the territorial days of New Mexico, and in its early statehood. An Englishman who had hobnobbed with the likes of D. H. Lawrence, Manby moved to Taos possibly as early as 1883, but more likely sometime in the 1890s. He began to acquire land and became quite wealthy.
There are many conflicting stories about Manby. Some are probably Urban Legends, but what is agreed on, is that much of Manby's wealth was acquired less than legally. A Google Books search on his name reveals that he was involved in many acrimonious court cases, often using the courts to take land from local Mexican-American owners by laying claim to obscure Spanish land grants. He was an eccentric, becoming involved in failed get-rich-quick ventures and often digging up his land. By some accounts, he was an amateur detective with a strong interest in espionage.
The last day of June 1929, two weeks shy of his 70th birthday (some accounts say it was 1926), the headless body of a man was found inside Manby's locked mansion. The body was quickly assumed to be Manby's and was buried. This is where the story becomes even more murky. Manby was heavily in debt and was allegedly involved in some sort of secret society. Several accounts have a friend of Manby's being found, also decapitated, outside the pair's long-failed mine. (This is uncertain to say the least, as even newspapers liked to publish total fiction in those days). There were sightings of Manby as far away as his native England, including one possible account from a brother.
Occam's Razor probably applies. The body buried in Taos is likely to be Arthur Manby. But if another Arthur--Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--had been healthy enough to write at the time of this case, what a Sherlock Holmes story it would have made!
[Sourced from various online locations and a highly dramatized account by Harold Wilkins]
Last edited by iconoclast; 07-11-2010 at 03:46 PM.
Was Manby married? Close relatives would likely have been able to id the body with reasonable certainty...
This article says he may have had family in England?
About his head:
(There was more than one dog shot at the home the day they discovered him deceased).Next, the deputies discovered Manby himself lying on an army cot under a blanket, dead. His head, however, was missing.
That turned up shortly in an adjacent room; a bare skull with dog teeth marks on it was presumed to be that of Mr. Manby.
The coroner on arrival decided that the man had succumbed in his sleep and had been dead for several days. The dog, becoming famished, must have chewed off his master's head and stripped the skull clean.