Was Billy the Kid Actually Retarded?

Some years back there was this speculation that Billy the Kid (1859-1881) may have been retarded. But as I recall, since testing wasn’t really widespread back then, and illiteracy rampant anyways, people were just going by old pictures of him or something.

Was Billy the Kid really retarded?

Realize I am putting it in General Questions instead of Great Debatesbecause I am just looking for factual evidence here.


“Billy’s educational advantages were limited, as were those of all of the youth of this border country. He attended public school, but acquired more information at his mother’s knee than from the village pedagogue. With great natural intelligence and an active brain, he became a fair scholar. He wrote a fair letter, was a tolerable arithmetician, but beyond this he did not aspire.”


The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid by Pat Garrett.

Read his affidavit on The Killing of John Tunstall he seems pretty well spoken.

As far as I know, there is only one known picture of Billy the Kid. I don’t think he looks retarded, but you can judge for yourselves.

I’ve seen that picture cleaned up and enhanced, and I can see how some people may recognise some ‘mongoloid’ features Billy may show, but he did not have down syndrom, and was generally regarded as quite intelligent, and well spoken. Whereas much of the people could not read who rode with Billy, Pat Garret, and the kid were quite smart. I’ve been to the supposed last resting place of Billy the kid, and the attendent who was working that day said he certainly did not believe Billy was in fact in that grave.

Yeah-wasn’t there some speculation that a man who died in the 1940s might have been Billy the Kid?

yep, the one part of Emilio Estivez - Billy The Kid movie - that did hold some stock was that a man by the name of Brushy Bill Roberts, aka Patrick Henry McCarty a.k.a. William H. Bonnie -> Billy the Kid.

Though Bill Roberts is not creditied on this cite there is another picture of Billy. So I guess there were two…