Jim Miller didn’t earn the nickname “Killer” because of his gentle nature. He was given the moniker because he excelled at one thing and one thing only; murder. Interestingly, Miller was married to a cousin of another infamous Old West outlaw; John Wesley Hardin. Miller was born in Arkansas in 1861, but his family moved to Texas when he was still an infant. When Miller was only 8-years-old, his grandparents were found murdered. The young boy was arrested but was not prosecuted for the killings.
Miller’s troubled life did not improve as he aged. In 1884, at the age of 23, Miller shot and killed his brother-in-law as he lay sleeping on his porch. He was arrested, tried, and sentenced to life in prison, but this was overturned on a small technicality. Jim Miller was once again free to roam the Lone Star State.
Miller then went on to become a deputy sheriff near the Texas-Mexico border. He quickly gained notoriety for killing Mexicans, many times claiming they were trying to escape over the border. Miller had a running feud with a fellow sheriff named Bud Frazer that found him on the wrong end of a gun in 1894. Frazer shot Miller several times in the chest and assumed he had killed his rival. It was revealed later that Miller was wearing a steel plate under his large coat, saving his life. The two had several more skirmishes, until Miller finally ended the feud on September 13, 1896, shooting and killing Frazer with a shotgun in a saloon.
Miller gained further notoriety by killing Hoe Earp, brother of the famous lawman Wyatt Earp. Miller then found work as a Texas Ranger, working at the outpost in Memphis. He returned to Texas in 1900, and he became a professional assassin, charging $150 for each murder he committed. Throughout the first decade of the twentieth century, Miller killed many men. Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who had killed Billy the Kid, was gunned down in 1908 and “Killer Miller” was believed to be the culprit.
In 1909, Miller was hired for a contract killing in Oklahoma. The target was a former U.S. Marshal named Gus Bobbitt. Miller killed Bobbitt, but the man was able to identify Miller as his assassin before he expired. Eyewitnesses also placed Miller at the scene of the crime. Miller was arrested in Texas and sent back to Oklahoma to stand trial. On April 19, 1909, an angry mob broke into the jail where Miller was being held and dragged him and three other men to an abandoned stable. The four men were lynched by the mob. Apparently, Miller’s final words were “Let ‘er rip” before he was hanged.