Weird News, Ghosts and the Paranormal.

Ghostly Pics: Tombstone Cemetery Ghost

By Thomas Spychalski

Some places are just perfect for a ghost story or the perfect location for a excellent ghost photograph. Well, nothing quite says ‘haunted’ like the trappings of the American Old West, with it’s tales of ghost towns abandoned after the money went dry in those areas and the body count created by the outlaw atmosphere that prevailed there.

One infamous and easily debated evidence of ghosts in an old west setting was the one taken at Boothill Cemetery in 1996 when Ike Clanton posed for a picture on the old burial site.

However they did not count on the mysterious figure in the background, dressed in clothing similar to those worn in the Old West and holding a knife.

The picture was taken in 1996 by a friend of Ike Clanton, who is a an actor, cowboy poet and a cousin to the gang of Clanton’s that once occupied Tombstone, Arizona in it’s more ‘active’ days.

Close Up Of 1996 Pic

Boothill, like a few other scattered graveyards of the same period, was called Boothill as the cowboys that are buried there ‘died with their boots on.’

There are about three-hundred or so people buried in the small grounds at Boothill, of which two-hundred and five are actually named in records. This includes Billy Clanton and Frank and Tom McLaury, participants in the gunfight at the O.K. Corral that over the decades has become a staple of western legends.

Arizona’s Boothill Cemetery was closed for good in 1884 besides being used for the burial of a few outlaws. Sadly, as is the case with a lot of old cemeteries that are not well maintained, like Bachelor’s Grove in Illinois, some vandalism took place as well as theft of some of the wooden crosses that marked the old burial sites.

Later, in Tombstone’s tourist years, the cemetery would become a free tourist attractions to visitor’s to the nearly abandoned desert city.

However, as far as the paranormal goes it was Clanton’s 1996 photo with it’s clear image of a man, apparently with no legs, no shadow and carrying a long knife, that captivated ghost hunters and tourists alike.

Clanton had the pic taken as a fun photo where he could wear the same manner of clothes his Clanton Gang cousins might have donned in the 1880’s before clashing with Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp at the corral.

However, after picking up his developed film at a Thrifty Drug Store location, the modern day Clanton discovered that he was not alone on the Boothill Cemetery grounds that day:

“I know there was no other person in this photograph when I shot it…

The knife [the figure in the background is holding] is in a vertical position; the tip is located just below the figure’s right collar. If you’re not convinced that something is weird here, look at my friend’s shadow in the photo. It appears to be going back slightly to the right of him. The figure in the back should have the same shadow, but it doesn’t.”

But is it really the ghost of an outlaw or cowboy in the background of this photo or is it just a hoax or a set up for Clanton to get some publicity for himself and his business.

Later, after Clanton had started a website partially devoted to the picture, there was an experiment conducted that tried to recreate it by having a normal man stand in the same approximate position as the ‘ghost’.

The resulting comments were that it was impossible to reproduce the pic as the ‘ghost’ in the 1996 picture seemed to have no legs whatsoever, while the man standing in that area for the reconstruction had his legs in full view.

Even more amazingly, the ghost apparently returned to the scene of the photo in 2006 according to Ike Clanton’s website, where he was possibly captured off in the distance by the Maruki Family:

“We visited Tombstone on April 11, 2006, and also visited the famous (or infamous) Boot Hill Cemetery.  After looking closely at the pictures, it seems that we had an unauthorized intrusion in our photo.  There appears to be no one or anything nearby that could have created this apparition.   I first thought it was one of the many bushes, but once I zoomed in, it appears humanoid.  What do you think?”

I know the Maruki Family was not asking for my sage advice, but this pic looks even more probable to be fake then the last one, it could be anybody out there in a cowboy hat, even a tourist or Tombstone player/worker out for a constitutional on a lovely day.

The meaning behind the name Maruki is “harmonious energy”, and although we would love to believe that someone with such a lovely name would be one-hundred percent legitimate, you never can tell…

Of course, the Boothill ghost seemed to like hiding behind trees and shrubbery and having his pic taken, because according to more tourists visiting the historical site, he appeared again, and the person snapping the picture had  an experience while inside Boothill as well:

“Here is a picture that was taken at the Boothill Graveyard around closing time. There was no one else in the graveyard at the time of this photo, my friend and I were the last ones there. 

My friend then decided to leave me in there alone. She wanted me to fill what it was like to be in Boothill with no one else around me, she said it is a real experience to be in there by yourself. 

So I said OK, not knowing what to expect. I was in there for about another 10 minutes  and snapped a few more pictures around the area exiting the graveyard. 

At this time I remind you that I was the only one in there at that time.

During that time I thought I heard someone walking in there with me, knowing that was not possible I snapped a couple more pictures and left to meet my friend in the store where her and her two children waited for me. 

When we arrived home we did our ritual downloading of pictures to the computer and here is what came up in one of the photos I took when I was in there alone. 

If you look to the left I the images are enclosed in yellow. There is one image which looks like a shadow person standing right in the bushes with the feet not appearing nor any other features that stand out but that of a dark silhouette.

The image also appears to be a wearing a hat and that of a tall male.  The other image is located a little further left. This image seems to be peeking through the bushes in a bent over stance. The image appears to have long hair, and also appears to be that of a man.  

We thought this was a very interesting photo, please let us know what you think of it. We have several other images that appear to have something in them but we wanted to share this one with you first.
Juanita and Candi
Fort Huachuca, AZ”

Interesting, but again, that could be ANYONE out there and it is easy to get spooked in a ‘haunted’ cemetery at sundown.

Now, I am not trying to discredit this pic as I would love for it to be the real deal and I have no evidence to the contrary. However, all of the first three ghost pictures on Ike Clanton’s website look more like solid people or photographic trickery then spirits of deceased cowboys returning to Tombstone.

Boothill: Sans Ghosts

Also, while again not attacking Ike Clanton or his validity I do find it rather odd that Clanton just happened upon these and the others. The latter photos could be fakes but unknown to be by Clanton himself as he did not take them.

Sadly, there is very little information to dig up on these pictures, but it is possible that one day we will know for sure if these images are of outlaws and cowboys returning from beyond the grave for justice or just a series of hoaxes and coincidental photos that are good for tourism?

What do you think of the Tombstone ghost photos? Let us know in the poll and comments below.

6 responses

  1. Wow! Good reporting! I’ve always liked this one.

    September 16, 2012 at 2:05 PM

  2. Thanks Patrick, as one of the site’s constant readers, I am glad the material is stuff you like and want to read.


    September 19, 2012 at 5:05 AM

  3. Elizabeth

    I am amazed that people actually believe that the first photo is not staged. I mean, geez, the man runs a tourist website, and it certainly looks to me like a person with a hat on sitting in tall grass.

    November 21, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    • It does look a bit suspicious does it not?

      And yes, the original “ghost” could easily be a man kneeling on the ground…

      Thanks for popping in to comment! :-)

      November 28, 2012 at 4:01 AM

      • Kris

        Very nice site. Tombstone is a magical place and our family loves to stop in every few years when we vacation.

        July 16, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      • I recall my one visit as a kid in the 80’s fondly.

        I was and still am a sucker for history that is still standing…amazing how tiny the OK Corral actually was and that huge copper mine…it is a pretty cool place.

        I did not spend much time at Boothill when I was there. Sad really, all things considered.

        Thanks a lot for the kind words about the site and thanks for taking the time to comment! :)

        July 17, 2014 at 1:07 AM

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