In 1895 the burned body of a man was found near Nephi, Utah. The identity of his killer remains a mystery.
In 1895 the burned body of a young man named Lewis Price was found up Salt Creek Canyon near Nephi. His parents had sent him up the canyon to resupply one of their hired sheepherders. When he didn’t return, searchers scoured the nearby hills finally finding Price’s body curled up in circle of burned brush and grass.
A coroner’s jury concluded that the boy’s mule had rolled over him and a branch had punctured his abdomen. Speculating further, the jury believed that Lewis, realizing he was seriously hurt, built a fire to signal for help but had become trapped and died when the fire spread. Only later did officials discover that a bullet, rather than an errant branch had actually created a hole in the young man’s abdomen. Revising its findings, the coroner’s jury now believed Price had been murdered and the fire had been set to cover up the evidence.
At first there were several suspects, but none of the early theories about the murder panned out and the case eventually turned cold. As the years passed however, people began wondering if the real murderer was none other than Ike Cartwright, the man Lewis Price had been sent to resupply. Cartwright reportedly had a violent streak. He purportedly beat his wife Mary when her pancakes weren’t up to snuff and even his animals feared him. There may be something to the hypothesis that Cartwright was the murderer, but we will never really know. When Mary Cartwright finally left her husband and moved to Payson to live with her daughter, Ike Cartwright tracked her down and shot her in her sleep before turning his gun on himself.
Image: Rain Sculpture, Salt Creek Canyon. Louis Price was found up Salt Creek Canyon, near Nephi, Utah. Photographed by William Bell for the 1872 Wheeler Survey. Courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
See the January 1996 collection of the History Blazer, a joint project of the Utah State Historical Society and the Utah State Centennial Commission. The History Blazer can be found on the Utah History Suite CD available from the Utah State Historical Society. Also see news reports in the following editions of the Salt Lake Tribune: September 30, October 1, and October 2, 1895.