Historic Tombstone documents subject of theft investigation

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Allen Street in Tombstone. (Source: Tombstone Chamber of Commerce) Allen Street in Tombstone. (Source: Tombstone Chamber of Commerce)

Authorities are investigating the whereabouts of an original handwritten document under which the Village of Tombstone became a city in 1881.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office and the Tombstone Marshal's Office have conducted interviews attempting to locate the charter and other city documents, some of which date back to the 1880s, since Tombstone Mayor Dusty Escapule reported the documents missing in February 2015.

The criminal inquiry of the disappearance of the documents was re-ignited last month when Tombstone Marshal Bob Randall obtained a search warrant to look for evidence of a theft, the Sierra Vista Herald reported.

The Tombstone Marshal's Office executed a search of a storage unit last month at Tombstone RV & Mini Storage. The unit belongs to Mark Duke and Nancy Sosa, Tombstone's former historic records manager, who was relieved of her duties in September 2014 after four years with the city.

Randall stated in the affidavit for the search warrant that he was looking for four items, one of which is described as "Original City Charter, tablet sized, handwritten with gold leaf design, signed by the Mayor of Tombstone in 1880." The other three items were original city documents dating from 1880 to 2014, believed to be in binders.

A total of 16 boxes or bags were seized, according to court records.

"I've never seen the original charter or any original land deeds except deeds related to the Huachuca Water Company," Sosa told the Sierra Vista Herald.

The sheriff declined to answer any questions, citing the ongoing investigation. The mayor also declined to speak with the newspaper.

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