Pecos, Texas, 1894:  Grover Cleveland was president, snake oil stocks were through the roof, and “Camptown Races” was still at the top of the charts.

Jim Miller was a pious man. He went to worship at the local Methodist church every Sunday. He had a wife and kid. He was kind. He was polite. He never swore. He never drank or smoked. That is why the people of the town called him Deacon Jim. It’s unconfirmed how many people Deacon Jim introduced to the Lord. By his count, it was fifty-one.

His work officially began when he was nineteen. He approached his brother-in-law sleeping on the porch and pulled both triggers of his double barrel shotgun. He had snuck out, performed the murder, and snuck back into the church building before services were over so he had an alibi. His plan worked. He was arrested but released due to insufficient evidence.

Jim later became a deputy sheriff in Pecos where he continued killing and cattle rustling. His job as a lawman and his reputation as a man of God were the perfect cover for his crimes. After being found out by the sheriff, Bud Frasier, he was fired as deputy sheriff only to beat Frasier in the election for town marshal. After more thieving, more killing, and a failed assassination attempt on Bud Frazer, Frazer confronted Deacon Jim on the street. Frazer hit him with five bullets, four in the chest and one in the arm. Concealed under that frock coat that Jim Miller always wore, no matter the weather, was a steel plate. After Bud left town, he tried to kill Miller two more times, Jim Miller walked unto the saloon and unloaded both shotgun barrels into Bud Frazer. Miller was arrested and acquitted yet again.

Deacon Jim Miller became the first Murder, Inc. He carried out hits all across the west. He was charged and arrested for multiple murders but was always acquitted by either lack of evidence or paying off witnesses. Once, he shot a beloved marshal in the face, was arrested, and then released on bail. It is even suspected that Miller may have been the one who killed the famous (or infamous) Sheriff Pat Garrett.

At one point, Miller was paid $2,000 to kill a man by the name of Gus Bobbitt. Miller did so, but Bobbitt survived long enough to identify who killed him. Miller wasn’t worried. He could afford the best lawyers money could buy and cattlemen that would testify on his behalf. However, the townspeople knew this. About forty men broke into the jailhouse, tied up the guards, and drug out Miller and the two people who hired him. The townspeople lynched them saving Miller for last. Miller did not care that he was being executed. When the noose was around his neck he arrogantly said “I’m ready now. You couldn’t kill me otherwise. Let ‘er rip.” Often it is difficult to watch truly evil people get away with their evil deeds. In justified rage it is tempting to take justice into our own hands because no one else will. They need to be punished. They need to pay. They will. In this life or the next they will be punished. “For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”” (Hebrews 10:30 NKJV)

JARED JENKINS (5/29/2022)

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