New Mexico October 25, 2017
This Bizarre And Long Forgotten New Mexico Mystery Has Yet To Be Solved
Taos is mainly known for its art community, the nearby Pueblo, skiing, stunning scenery and peaceful times. But once, a very bad man lived in Taos. One day, after years of making others miserable, the man was found in his home – gruesomely murdered. Some say he deserved it. Others wonder if it was really
his headless body that was found. Be warned – parts of the story are graphic.
In the late 1800s, Arthur Rochford Manby left England to seek his fortune in Taos.
By the time of his death in 1929, the 69-year-old had solidified his reputation as the most hated man in Taos.
Manby dreamed of land and he didn't care how he got it.
Over his years in Taos, Manby dabbled in ranching and mine interests, but most of his real estate affairs consisted of swindles and shady, backroom deals. He sold land he had no rights to and seized water rights. Plenty of rumors surround Manby including tales of corrupt politicians, a secret society and even unrequited love with a strong-willed woman, shady in her own right. Whatever the truth, it's clear that he was unliked.
If you have ever been to Manby Hot Springs in Taos, you've walked in Manby's footsteps.
As a result of his underhanded dealings and intimidation, in 1913, Manby finally got his hands on the entire Antonio Martínez Land Grant, including the hot springs at the western edge of the land. Manby's plan was to create a grand hotel near the site but his dream never saw fruition.
Manby was found dead in his house.
After years of double-dealing and lies, Manby's luck changed. Some say he was deeply in debt (possibly from being sued so often). Others speculate that Manby was ill. Whatever the case, he retreated to his 23-acre estate in Taos, just north of the plaza. (The old hacienda now houses the Taos Center for the Arts.)
Manby's dead and swollen body was found on a cot in his Spanish Colonial hacienda. His head, however, was found in a nearby room, badly mauled by one of his dogs.
Manby's death was ruled to be from natural causes.
Because of the body bloat and flies, it was surmised that Manby had been dead for a while. Authorities also assumed that the dog, left unfed, had torn the head from the body. With no further investigation, Manby was buried.
Manby's relatives weren't so sure the death was natural. They had the body exhumed. It was then revealed that the head had been cleanly severed and that the skull had been mauled by bullets, not dogs.
The investigation continued amid rumors and threats.
Three men were held for questioning but were mysteriously released. The investigator on the case was also threatened and warned to leave town. Meanwhile, someone reported that a vagrant had entered Manby's house right before the murder and hadn't been seen since. Someone also said they had seen Manby board a train out of town. Later, there were reports that Manby had been seen in Europe. Eventually, the official case faded to a non-end, suffering from lack of money and interest.
Manby (or whoever) is buried in Taos.
The Manby grave is at Kit Carson Memorial Park, but outside the actual cemetery. The gravestone notes one of the few good things Manby did for Taos.
Have you heard of Arthur R. Manby? What do you think happened? Did he deserve to die? Or do you think he got away? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.