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John D. Lee
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Murderer (Alleged)
    (September 6, 1812-March 23, 1877)
    Born in Kaskaskia, Illinois
    Farmer, Rancher
    Early leader of the Latter Day Saints movement
    Close associate (and an adopted son of) Brigham Young
    Leader of the Mountain Meadows Massacre (Sept. 11, 1857)
    Arrested in November 1874; tried and convicted of murder at Mountain Meadows
    Executed by firing squad at the site of the massacre, on 23 March 1877
    Portrayed by Jon Gries in the film depicting the events of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, 'September Dawn' (2007)
    John Doyle Lee
    He headed off the brutal ambush of the Baker-Fancher wagon train party.
    He and his cohorts dressed as Indian warriors to scare the hell out of the emigrants to take the fight out of them (they were joined by real-life Native Americans).
    After two days of laying siege onto the wagon train, they approached the encampment with a white flag,implying peaceful intentions.
    He somehow convinced the emigrants to surrender their weapons in exchange for safe passage to a nearby city, and to travel in single-file lines to get there.
    When the men had been separated far enough from the women and children, the orders were given for each of the Mormon men to shoot and kill one a settler (the women and older children were killed first).
    The attack has been called one of the deadliest and largest mass killings in American history, and would remain the largest civilian-on-civilian killing spree until the Oklahoma City Bombings of 1995, over 100 years later (and did we mention the Massacre happened on 9/11?)
    When the news of the massacre spread through California, he tried blaming the Paiute Indians for the attack (and later the emigrant victims themselves), but the US government didn't buy it.
    Nonetheless, thanks to an elaborate cover-up by the Latter Day Saints, as well as waning interest in the case due to the onset of the Civil War, he was able to temporarily escape prosecution.
    It took another twenty years for the cover-up to be thoroughly disproved by journalists, resulting in an arrest warrant being issued and his being picked up by authorities soon afterward (he was found hiding in a chicken coop in Utah).
    He benefited from a jury of his peers, in his first trial, who overwhelmingly voted to acquit him. That three non-Mormon members of the jury voted for a conviction resulted in a hung jury.
    The failure to attain a conviction prompted Washington to pressure Utah's Attorney General to finally resolve the conflict (which was deemed impossible without the blessing of Brigham Young).
    After bartering extensively with Mormon leadership to insure cooperation, Lee was unceremoniously excommunicated by the Mormon church. He faced an onslaught of Mormon witnesses testifying to his guilt.
    He was a skilled diplomat; able to communicate with the Paiute Indians well enough that he was appointed an Indian Agent by the government.
    The infamous 'do your duty' order signalling for the men to start shooting the victims has been falsely attributed to him (it was actually Major John Higbee who escaped being prosecuted).
    He was the only major member of the Mountain Meadows Massacre party - comprised of some nine men - to be put on trial (reason being that officials believed he would be the 'easiest to convict').
    He argued that he was merely a scapegoat for the LDS leadership as a whole (which wasn't completely out of the question considering how his Mormon countrymen threw him under the bus).
    He was jovial and calm during his execution, reportedly yelling to the firing squad: 'Center my heart boys! Don't mangle my body!'
    He didn't publicly castigate Brigham Young for making him the fall guy for the crime, but took full aim at him in the memoir he penned during the lead-up to his execution.
    The completed manuscript, published posthumously the same year, was an instant bestseller (not surprisingly he downplays his role in the massacre).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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