It was April 27, 1916, and a crime was being committed in Richfield, Utah. City Marshal Dan Borg had been apprised of the likely commission of that crime and he deputized his brother, Hans Borg, to assist him in detecting the act and arresting the perpetrators.
The two sworn officers, together with W.A. Cheel and a man named Anderson, assembled at dusk and proceeded cautiously toward a cabin owned by Cheel and rented to Clara McCabe, lately arrived from the mining camp at Marysvale. At 9:30 they positioned themselves under the windowsills and listened for an opportune moment to enter. Two hours passed as the posse members bided their time, listening to conversation from inside and occasionally taking furtive peeks through the windows.
Finally, at 11:30, sounds from within assured the lawmen that criminal activity was in progress. With a single kick, Dan Borg broke open the flimsy cabin door and burst inside, followed closely by Hans Borg. Dan struck a match, illuminating the darkened room and its occupants for a brief moment, then the flicker of his match light was answered by two revolver shots.
Hans screamed in pain, his left wrist shattered and his abdomen pierced by bullets. The two brothers fled from the cabin. Its door was slammed shut and barricaded from inside as the posse retreated down the narrow dirt lane.
The three men laid Hans on the ground where he writhed in pain. Dan stayed with his brother while Cheel and Anderson went in search of a doctor – and the county sheriff, the situation having become too much for the marshal to handle alone. Hans Borg was carried to his home for emergency treatment, then rushed to Salina for surgery. Despite the seriousness of his abdominal wound, he would recover.
Dan Borg, with Sheriff C.A. Leavitt, returned to the cabin, again dark and silent. Leavitt identified himself in a loud voice and demanded that the inmates surrender. After speaking back and forth through the closed door, those within became convinced of the lawman’s identity, then opened the door and were peacefully arrested.
They were Clara McCabe, wife of M.J. McCabe of Marysvale, and Albert Williams, a “quiet, inoffensive man” according to the Richfield press. Williams was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to commit murder. The couple also faced the crime that had brought the posse to eavesdrop through windows and wait in the chilly darkness for hours: They were charged with adultery.
The record does not indicate the outcome of the adultery case (although the couple had been fined a month earlier for committing the same act in Marysvale – a surprising occurrence, perhaps, since the number of saloons and saloon girls in Marysvale at that date far surpassed the number of churches and churchgoers).
Williams was convicted of the assault charge, despite his defense that the lawmen had not identified themselves when breaking violently into the cabin in the dead of night; the arrest was therefore illegal, and his firing had been in self defense. He appealed to the Utah Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction. Because Williams was knowingly engaged in a crime, the court reasoned, he should have anticipated the arrival of the law, and should have submitted.
Williams was sentenced to an indeterminate term in the state penitentiary.
Two years later he sought a pardon, maintaining that his was a crime of circumstance that would not be repeated. He promised to leave Utah to live with his mother in California. His petition was supported by letters from many who had known him in Marysvale, from the Mormon bishop to the roasters at the alunite mines. One mine supervisor offered him a job. The Marysvale town marshal vouched for his good character. Ordinary citizens complained that he had been treated unfairly.
Williams was released, and, like Clara McCabe, disappeared into the backdrop of a changing American society.