Jesse James' Mystery
May Be Solved - Body Exhumed
For Genetic Testing
GRANBURY, Texas (Reuters) - The remains of a man some believe was the Wild West outlaw Jesse James were exhumed Tuesday for genetic testing to settle claims the infamous robber died in Texas 69 years later than history books say.
The widely accepted view is that James was shot and killed by a member of his own gang on April 3, 1882, in St. Joseph in his home state of Missouri. A grave marker there bears his name. But many people in Granbury, a small town 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth, believe James faked his death in Missouri and lived in Texas until 1951 -- when he would have been 103 years old.
``After he died, several of the local residents here did a visual post-mortem on his body and they found several old bullet holes as well as a rope burn on his neck,'' said Mary Salterille of the Granbury Convention and Visitors Bureau.
``So a lot of the long-time residents here fervently believe he was the real Jesse James,'' she said.
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After decades of speculation, the exhumation was sought by Jesse James researcher Bud Hardcastle and three reputed grandsons of the outlaw who live in Arkansas.
DNA samples from the bones of the Granbury remains will be compared with those of the James descendants to determine if the body is the outlaw's.
The test is being run despite the results of a similar DNA probe in 1995 that determined that James' body lies in the Missouri grave.
Funeral home workers used a backhoe and shovels to remove dirt from a burial plot whose headstone reads ``Jesse Woodson James'' and a death date of August 15, 1951.
In smaller letters below it says, ``Supposedly killed in 1882.''
James learned his fighting skills as a guerrilla raider for the Confederate side in the U.S. Civil War. After the Union won in 1865, James and his brother Frank launched a 16-year outlaw career by banding together with eight other men to rob a bank in Liberty, Mo., on February 13, 1866.
A botched Minnesota bank robbery in 1876 destroyed the gang, ending with all of the members but Jesse and Frank dead or captured.
The brothers kept on robbing with new partners and in 1882 one of them, Robert Ford, was said to have shot Jesse James in the head in hopes of collecting a $10,000 reward.

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