A FATAL CAE OF GOLD FEVER
On December 16, the day he would be killed, Fred Schrader got up before dawn, made a pot of coffee, turned on the TV, and sat down to watch the morning news. His wife, Elaine, was still asleep when she first heard the creaking of the approaching bulldozer. In her dreams, she thought coyotes were scratching and whimpering outside their trailer home, an RV parked on a friend's mining claim in the desert, four miles north of Apache Junction and a half-mile off Route 88.
Fred looked out the window; it was cold enough outside that the glass was frosted. Elaine heard him say "Damn" under his breath, and she assumed he'd tripped over his old, cross-eyed Siamese cat. Then she felt his knee on the side of the bed and realized he was reaching across her to take his .22-caliber pistol off the bedside shelf. She forced herself awake with a jolt.
"What is it?" she asked.
"It's that damn fool Graham again, and he's got a bulldozer with him," he answered, according to Elaine's interviews with New Times and Pinal County sheriff's detectives.
As far as the Schraders were concerned, W.H. "Moose" Graham was a claim jumper. They'd run him off three years earlier when he came out to their trailer to announce that he owned the claim. Now he was back with a Caterpillar bulldozer that had a blade two-thirds as long as their entire rig and was big enough to push them into the nearby wash.
The trailer was shaking as the Cat rumbled within two feet of it. Elaine looked out the window. Graham had parked his faded, blue pickup truck in the bushes not 20 feet away; she looked directly into his steely eyes, then closed the blind with a shiver.
"Honey, come back," she shouted after her husband. "Wait for me." It was the last time she saw him alive. A moment later, she heard two shots, then a third, and she struggled to get a sweater over her head and run for the door.
She looked for Fred's bright red bathrobe and didn't see him. Graham was staring at her from the other side of his truck; his gaze puzzled her.
Elaine called for Fred, but he didn't answer.
"Where's Fred?" she yelled to Graham. He didn't respond, and she assumed he didn't know Fred's name. "Where's my husband?" she asked. He gestured toward the ground.
When she rounded the front of the truck, she saw Fred, and she knew immediately that he was dead. He was lying on his back, his head near the right front tire, the holster of his gun near his feet. His robe looked so perfectly arranged that it surprised her, and his hands were cupped on his chest. He'd had big, strong workman's hands in life, but now they looked helpless and tiny.
"Oh, honey, even your hands shrunk when they killed you," she said to him. Graham was watching coolly. "Why'd you kill my husband?" she asked, and Graham answered, "He had a gun."
She lost her temper. "I'm going to kill you, you son of a bitch," she screamed and she raised her hands toward his neck. He backed off, frightened, and she caught herself.
She turned frantically to try to revive Fred with CPR, but he was dead. With just three bullets, he'd been shot through the heart, the lungs, the stomach, the liver, the spine. There was very little blood, so Elaine, who had worked in the medical profession, knew his heart had stopped for good. She gave up and went into the trailer to wait for the police.
Graham's wife, Rae Ann, who was in the truck, ran to call 911 as soon as the shots were fired. She went with a man named Gene Stowe, whom Graham had brought as a witness in case anything happened, and they called from the shop of Darrell Hand, the local prospector who was driving the Cat. A couple of recreational miners from Texas, Terry and Heidi Lee, who had parked their trailer up the road, came running to see what had happened.
As Heidi Lee recalls, "I was ranting and raving, trying to make some sense of it. I told [Graham] he had no right to be there. I asked why he did it."
All that Graham told her in response was, "This is my claim."
@rule: @body:Longer than there has been a town called Apache Junction, the area's main business has been gold mining, though there's been more money made promoting tourism and selling investment scams than selling actual gold. The Spanish explorer Coronado searched for the Seven Cities of Gold on Superstition Mountain, the silent palisade that towers more than 5,000 feet above town. In the 1840s, a Mexican aristocrat named Miguel de Peralta allegedly mined a rich mother lode and shipped the gold back to Mexico until the Apaches murdered him and all his men on a patch still referred to as the Massacre Ground, not two miles from where Fred Schrader died.
The legendary Dutchman, Jacob Waltz, was supposed to have his hidden mine somewhere on or near Superstition Mountain; hobbyists and lunatics are still searching for it. In 1892, a year after Waltz died, the boom town of Goldfield sprang up around the Black Queen Mine and its neighbor, the Mammoth Mine, whose so-called "Mormon Stope" produced more than $3 million worth of gold--$55 million at today's rate--before miners struck an underground river and flooded it in 1897.
The town of Goldfield died--there's a tourist-attraction replica on the site today--and civilization, such as it was, retreated down the Apache Trail to the junction.
Apache Junction now lies on the fringes of Phoenix's urban sprawl, literally and figuratively, a random collection of strip malls, trailer parks and subdivision ranch houses. Most everyone there seems old, and the rest seem odd. The fellow in the van next to you at the intersection, you notice, is grinning like a crazy man. You realize as he screams away from the light that he's driving with his knees because his hands are busy picking out a private solo on an electric guitar in his lap that is plugged into the cigarette lighter.
But it's the prospectors that give Apache Junction its flavor. For them the lure of gold is more than just monetary. "If you put a hundred-dollar bill, a .45 automatic pistol and a 20-dollar gold piece on a table and left the room," says Darrell Hand, "when you came back, the gold piece would be gone."
"When you touch gold, it gets warm very quick," says Elaine Schrader.
The metal has an unnatural effect on people. "Some of them don't walk on the floor," says Elaine Schrader. They float dreamily into her mining-supply store in town, buoyed by delusions of finding a small fortune in gold, then spend a large fortune on equipment they often as not don't know how to use. Failure doesn't stop them; like compulsive gamblers, they keep digging after the money runs out, always sure that the next shovelful will make them rich.
Local police call Goldfield "The Superstition Triangle" because of the strange characters it attracts, transients camping every which where, middle-of-the-night hikers asking the police where the Lost Dutchman Mine is, bar brawlers claiming they've found it, guys on bicycles wearing shorts and sandals and six-guns on their hips. The hopelessly hooked have names like "The Spook," "Stutterin' Dave" and "Stubby."
"Go on out to their shacks and ask them about gold," the local police joke. "Knock first, but don't stand in front of the door."
At the mining claims, it's not unusual for business to be conducted with pointed guns, even in nonthreatening situations. Over the course of the interviews for this story, more than a few conversations took place with a loaded pistol on the table in front of the interview subject.
In the year before Fred Schrader was shot to death, there were two murders over the Lost Dutchman Mine. In November of 1991, an old-timer was shot in the head by a longtime friend because he wouldn't tell where it was. Just six days before Schrader died, two Californians at the Apache Junction Motel argued about how they would split the take from the lost mine, and one shot and killed the other. He admitted later to the police that he had exercised bad judgment.
"Hindsight's perfect," he said, "only it don't work."
And so when the sheriff's police had loaded Fred Schrader into the helicopter to airlift him to Scottsdale Memorial Hospital and the paramedics had treated Moose Graham because he was shaking so badly that they worried he'd have a heart attack, everyone figured that this was just another squabble between crazy miners, two old men wagging guns at each other over a worthless piece of dirt. One had the balls to shoot, the other didn't.
They were half right. Fred Schrader's murder came at the end of several long-standing feuds over mines and money, most of which had nothing to do with him. Of the half-dozen players in a daisy chain of bad deals and bad blood, Fred Schrader was the least prone to fits of temper, the least devious, and because he was the least likely to pull the trigger, the man shot dead.
As for Moose Graham, on December 30, Fred and Elaine's ninth wedding anniversary, the Grand Jury of Pinal County in Florence indicted him for negligent homicide, a charge that carries a maximum prison sentence of eight years. He won't come to trial until September at the earliest. He was released on his own recognizance and went home to Apache Junction.
@body:It says something about Apache Junction that two pillars of the community lived in a 21-foot trailer on a mining claim. Fred and Elaine Schrader were active in the chamber of commerce, People for the West (a grassroots mining lobby) and local charities, and they taught recreational mining classes for the local parks district.
They were good, solid folks who would do anything for a friend. But they had strong personalities, the kind you either love or hate. Their relationship with each other showed both sides of passion: They sat joined at the hip like adolescent lovebirds when they rode in their truck; they fought like ferrets in their store. Elaine, 58, is a short and stout woman with graying hair and a broad smile. She had been married three times before, Fred once. And while she was known for loud fits of temper, he would show anger by turning red in the face and walking away. He'd never been in a fight in his life.
Fred was 59, a big, strong man who liked to work with his hands. Elaine once noticed that he made some of the same noises when he was working as when he was making love, and she would ask him if it was work to make love or if he just loved to work.
He was a carpenter by trade, and he built them a home in Southern California. But they preferred to travel, and so he built the RV, "big enough to dance in," as he said. It had a shower and a kitchen and a double bed and a big back porch, all of it wood-paneled like an antique yacht. Fred customized its axles so that the rig would ride high enough to go anywhere their 4x4 truck towed it.
Their travels took them to Happy Camp, in northernmost California. They liked to mine for gold, had a dredge set up in a river there, got so involved with the local mining-supply store that Elaine ended up working in it. They came to Apache Junction in 1987 to set up a branch of the store and a mining club. They had expected to move on after the store got going, but, as Elaine says, "We fell in love with the mountain and we stayed."
The mining claim they lived on was ostensibly owned by their friend Don Housley, who has a double-wide trailer home about a half-mile away. Like most of the historic Goldfield area, the land was pockmarked with test holes. Fred had cleared away most of the junked machinery and old vehicles from the parcel near Weekes Wash where they camped. If you looked beyond the detritus and the scars, there were beautiful views of the Goldfield Mountains to the west and Superstition Mountain just to the east. And if their sublease on Housley's claim was not entirely legal, no one ever came by to question them until Moose Graham showed up in 1989.
Early in November of that year, Graham paid the sheriff's department to serve eviction notices on Housley, the Schraders, and on Clay Rineholt and Arthur Wallis, friends (soon to be enemies) of the Schraders who had an RV parked nearby.
A little more than a month later, someone--presumably Graham--taped a crude and misspelled note scratched in a cramped hand at the Schraders' trailer: "You must be out to day for I have a man stating to morrow and if you not out you will be blocked in we will be diggen here."
The next day, Graham showed up with a back hoe, a heavy-equipment operator, and the apparent intention to dig trenches across the road so that no one could get in or out of the property. The Schraders and Rineholt and Wallis were all at the store when they heard there was machinery out on the claim.
Fred grabbed his gun and stuck it in his belt, and they drove out to confront Graham. By several accounts, including Graham's, Elaine swore a blue streak; she doubts she said more than "damn." But no one disputes that she loudly lectured Graham on mining law, and told him why the claim belonged to Housley and not to him. She pulled out a camera and took his picture. Fred stood by, quietly amused at his wife's ferocity.
Graham, too, kept his temper, and backed down, but not too far. Days later, he moved his trailer to a far corner of the claim, on high ground across Route 88 where he could look down into the Schraders' camp. Fred and Elaine would warn their visitors about "the claim jumper," as they called him. He'd occasionally challenge horsemen or tourists who crossed the property. Bob Schoose, co-owner of the ghost-town theme park, claims Graham once scared the daylights out of one of his workers. The worker was driving a dump truck on property adjacent to the theme park, property Schoose believed to be Housley's. Graham, he says, jumped up on the side of the truck while the driver was watching the truck bed go up, then screamed in his ear that he was dumping dirt on his claim.
But Graham and Housley never took their dispute over who owns the claim to court. They haven't still. And Elaine Schrader swears she never saw Graham again until the day he shot Fred to death.
@body:On a recent morning, Moose Graham sat at a table at Joe Jo's Coffee Shop on Apache Trail just east of the Pinal County line. His wife, Rae Ann, 36, sat quietly at his side, squinting in a businesslike way through wire-rimmed glasses. Graham's a tall man with gray hair cut a tad longer than the week's worth of white stubble on his big, Popeye jaw. He looks in ill health; when he was arrested, he told the police that he had lung cancer and an enlarged heart. He also told them that he had no first or middle name, only the initials W.H., but records from the state of Florida, where he used to live, suggest that at least once he used the name Wesley Howard Graham. He just turned 62.
Like every prospector in this story, he's got pale, blue eyes--as if the dreams of gold burned all the color away--and they lighted up when he was asked if there's really gold up there on the disputed mining claim. He fished in the pocket of his shirt and produced a piece of silver the size of a thumbnail. With a smile, he pushed it across the table.
"You know what that is?" he asked. He's got the croak and twang of every prospector; somehow, the desert gravel finds its way into their voices. "There's lots more up there."
If he can ever get to it: "I have been so wronged by everybody here," he said, plaintively. "I tried every way to get it taken care of, but no one would listen." He told police he had talked to judges and Bureau of Land Management officials; his wife called the U.S. Attorney's Office, and no one would help. After the shooting, when police interrogators told Graham that Schrader had died, Graham broke down and cried. "It's all for nothing," he told them, "because the police department wouldn't do their job."
When he got out of jail, Graham told everyone who would listen that Fred Schrader had kicked him in the groin. He'd never mentioned it in the initial police interviews. Still, Graham would pull aside locals and take them into a rest room, drop his trousers and display the damage. As Darrell Hand said, "He showed me his testicles, and, man, that sucker's bigger than any grapefruit you ever seen."
Graham's few friends describe him as "a man who won't allow you to push him around," cool-headed, a regular fellow--at least for Apache Junction. When Graham was arrested, police found in his truck letters to then-president-elect Clinton, offering plans for eliminating the deficit, cutting unemployment and solving the energy crisis. "I know for a fact that this can be done and I'm the only one that can do it," one said. "If you are interested, let me know and I will come to Little Rock." Furthermore, if he didn't hear from Clinton in 15 days, he was going to mail the letter he'd drafted to Ross Perot. Then he'd implement the plans himself and take the profits to Vegas.
Those plans were dashed by the shooting. Graham said he acted in self-defense. "He come running out there with a gun and said he was going to kill me and the other guy," he told New Times. And though he had brought three people with him as witnesses, only his wife, Rae Ann, saw what happened, and she says Schrader raised his gun toward her husband's chest.
Darrell Hand, the local prospector who was running the Cat as a neighborly favor to Graham, was faced the other way and didn't hear anything over the roar of the engine.
"I have to go on Mr. Graham's word," he said. "I turned around to come back up out of [the wash], and he motioned me to shut the machine down. I thought, 'What's the matter with this guy? That's where he told me he wanted this thing.' [Graham] said, 'That guy come out and threatened to kill us and I had to shoot him.' I thought to myself, 'Well, that's a funny thing to be joking about at 7:30 in the morning. I'm cold and I'm trying to work.' He knew I didn't believe him, so he says, 'He's laying right there.' I looked over and there he was. It happened that fast."
Gene Stowe, a friend of Graham's, had parked his car 50 yards down the dirt road. He says he saw Fred Schrader open the door, push his old German shepherd out first, then run to the passenger side of Graham's truck with his holstered gun in his hand. Stowe glanced toward the bulldozer for a moment, and when he looked back, he saw Schrader stagger backward, then fall on his side. Neither Stowe nor Hand even knew Fred Schrader. Stowe, curiously, had already told Graham that there would be no gold worth searching for in the wash. As an experienced miner, Hand would know that, too, and he'd also know that Graham was not the undisputed holder of the claim, especially since Hand had had his own problems with Don Housley, the other claimant.
Graham had no apparent argument with Schrader, either. He never referred to him by name. But he did blame Housley. "It's his fault that man got shot," Graham told New Times. "It's all a clique out there, and it goes all the way to the White House."
@body:The dispute between Moose Graham and Don Housley centers on two 600-by-1,500-foot plots, called Hilltop and Hilltop II in BLM records. Housley was there first, but his claim is not crystal clear. One local real estate broker says that the only reason the Goldfield area was never mined by a major corporation is because its title history is so convoluted. And Housley's claim is as complex as any.
At 63, Housley is another crusty six-footer, a former Forest Service man who sells and services water purifiers from a store in town. He also says he owns 70 acres of mining claims--including the disputed ones--on BLM land directly behind Goldfield Ghost Town. From his double-wide trailer, he can look directly down into the Mammoth Mine, which is owned by Darrell Hand, his enemy and former employee.
The last clear claim to the Hilltop parcels was filed in January 1984 by a man named Bradley Denham. Later that same year, Denham entered into partnership with Jim Tunstill, another proverbial old-timer with an accent straight out of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The two of them leased the claim to Housley.
In 1985, Housley and a partner bought out Tunstill's half. "We give Jim $5,000 in a lawyer's office," says Housley. Tunstill claims Housley didn't pay in full, though he can't remember the facts. Still, there is a quit claim deed--which shows transfer of ownership--on record in Housley's name, dated December 1986. When Brad Denham went to prison for child molestation in 1988, he signed a power of attorney over to Housley, which would appear to give Housley full control over the claims. The next year, however, Tunstill apparently sold his interest again, this time to Moose Graham. Tunstill denies this: "I haven't sold nothin' to Graham," he swears. "Me and him was going to mine and split it 50-50," and the partnership only covered some claims filed in the Tonto National Forest, he says.
Nevertheless, in the BLM files, there's a partnership agreement between Graham and Tunstill, dated July 29, 1989, and notarized in Florida, that specifically mentions Hilltop and Hilltop II and no other claims.
According to Tunstill, he ended his association with Graham after he got to know him better. Graham seemed to get emotionally worked up over minor issues. "The more I seen him, the crazier he got," Tunstill says. "He's got no reasonin' about him. None whatsoever. So I just signed over 16 deeds and I went to Florida."
Graham's last words to him were, "They won't shit on me the way they shit on you."
Graham then went about planting papers in BLM files in Phoenix to make his claim to Hilltop and Hilltop II more convincing. He took his agreement with Tunstill to BLM officials and showed them the earlier partnership agreement between Denham and Tunstill. They issued a document that implied a transfer of interest directly from Denham to Graham. He decided to rename the claims Golden Goose 17 and 18.
Housley and Graham now had parallel paperwork on the same claim.
Both Housley and Graham kept filing the Affidavits of Performance of Annual Work, required by mining law to show that they were working the claim. BLM clerks would simply file the papers without questioning who owned them. That would be a civil matter for the courts to decide, anyway, BLM clerks say.
But neither man wanted to spend money on lawyers to prove ownership; and likely, neither man was absolutely certain he'd win in court.
Housley has his own history of claim disputes. In the late 1980s, he took close to $700,000 worth of gold out of a claim he leased from a neighbor, then allegedly held back on paying royalties to the claim owner and had his lease terminated. He and Darrell Hand are locked in a court battle over yet another claim that lies between their properties. Hand once dug trenches all around Housley's equipment there, rupturing water lines and stranding Housley until he could fill them back in. Neither one has taken an ounce of gold from the site.
Housley just shrugs it off. "No one who mines is normal," he says, "including myself."
@body:Darrell Hand, Housley's neighbor and opponent in court, the man who drove the bulldozer the day Fred Schrader was shot, has gold fever like every other prospector in Apache Junction. "Yeah, it's got me, too," he drawls, "but I'm not crazy like they are--I don't think."
He is a polite and roly-poly fellow in bib overalls and a gimme cap, and he lives in a trailer next to a gold mill at the Mammoth Mine. All that's visible of the mine are the headworks and a couple of ponds directly over the main shaft. Almost 100 years ago, miners struck an underground river more than 1,000 feet down, and its water has run to the surface ever since.
Hand's companions on a June afternoon were an Old Yeller hound dog--who stared intently at the reeds by the water's edge, waiting for frogs with the same blind optimism that the local miners hunt for gold--and an old-timer named Vince. Vince has a ZZ Top beard that has gone from white to yellow, and eyes as dark and burning as the dog's.
Vince nodded toward Superstition Mountain, which looms just across the highway. "I seen all kinds of gold up there, bars and statues," he whispered, alluding to legends that Spanish Jesuits stashed treasure on the mountain. When asked why he didn't take it out, he huffed, "Don't belong to me."
Though Hand owns the mineral rights to the Mammoth and the Black Queen mines, historically the highest-producing mines in Goldfield, he has taken little more from them than a couple of panfuls of samples, rocks the size of a fist, rose quartz flecked through with granite and gold wire in a pattern reminiscent of countertop marble. He's spent most of his money and energy in court.
He acquired the two mines in a hostile takeover of the corporation that owned them, but could not dislodge the previous tenant, a scammer named Marshall Ott. Ott told potential investors that God had appeared to him in the form of a dove and told him that the Mammoth Mine was really the Lost Dutchman. He collected close to $2 million in investments on that vision before federal authorities threw him in prison in 1990.
Until then, Ott and Hand battled each other in court and on the ground. Goldfield Ghost Town overlooks the Mammoth Mine, and Goldfield's co-owner, Bob Schoose, says, "I seen stuff out here you would not believe this is the 1990s. I seen em go head to head with front-end loaders, and both of them having guns while they're running the loaders, pushing on the machines with each other and banging the buckets together.
"One day a fellow named Doug come out here to see our place," Schoose continues. "Then Doug says, 'Oh, by the way, is old Housley still living out back?' We crested the hill to Housley's and knocked on the door and he come out. All of a sudden, we hear automatic-rifle fire. There's a white pickup chasing a station wagon pulling a trailer, and the guy in the pickup took a couple shots at the guy pulling the trailer. The guys in the station wagon returned fire with an AR-15 or something. The windshield of the pickup, you just wouldn't believe it. They blew it up to where you couldn't drive it no more and it run off the road. The guys inside come running up the hill towards us and asking us to call the sheriff. "Doug turned to us and said, 'Well, I see nothing out here's changed a bit.'"
@body:Fred and Elaine Schrader were not immune to the legal battles plaguing Goldfield. Their business was in dire financial straits and they had just filed bankruptcy to avoid debts approaching $60,000. They had so angered their creditors that they worried their store would be burned down. Perhaps they were succumbing to Goldfield paranoia, but they even feared for their lives.
A month before he died, Fred had a premonition: "Honey," he told Elaine, "there's nothing left for them to do but kill us." By "them," he meant a group of former business associates headed by Charles "Clay" Rineholt. Clay Rineholt is a mild-mannered man with the slightly prissy enunciation of a librarian. He owns a local newspaper called the Arizona Territorial, a curious publication that focuses on Arizona's Wild West history. Rineholt and his partner Arthur Wallis came to Apache Junction in the late 80s while on an extended vacation and went from being best customers at Fred and Elaine's store to best friends and business partners. Rineholt had $50,000 to invest, which bought him the title of treasurer and chief financial officer.
As soon as Rineholt and the Schraders became partners, however, their friendship fell apart, with each side accusing the other of fiscal impropriety. In the end, the Schraders signed a note to buy back Rineholt's interest with monthly installments and a final balloon payment of $28,000. When the balloon came due and the Schraders couldn't pay, Rineholt sued. The Schraders then declared bankruptcy to sidestep both Rineholt and another $27,000 owed to the parent store in California.
Rineholt opened a competing store, which subsequently went out of business, and declared bankruptcy himself. The parent store sent out letters to Elaine's friends and clients in Apache Junction saying that she no longer had any right to use the company name on her store.
Fred and Elaine interpreted those actions as attempts to put them out of business. The accusations began to fly. Rineholt began studying the Hilltop files at the BLM; he says he was looking for assets the Schraders may have hidden with Housley. And so when Fred died, Elaine wondered if his premonition had come true. After the shooting, in fact, Graham showed his court depositions to Rineholt in an apparent search for allies against the Schraders.
Rineholt, however, dismisses both Graham and Fred Schrader as paranoid prospectors. "If I were to put Moose Graham and Fred Schrader in a bag and shake it up, I don't know which one would fall out," he says. "I find Mrs. Schrader to be one of the most vindictive people I have ever met. But I really regret that her husband died."
@body:A longtime resident of Apache Junction told New Times, "We have our own codes, and our own laws." And in that code, perhaps, a man takes what he thinks is his. And so rather than go to court against Housley, Graham chose to bring Hand and his bulldozer to Fred Schrader's trailer and build a road into a wash he'd already been told would not yield gold. It was a matter of property and principle.
During his interrogation after the murder, Graham told police that he had asked Fred Schrader to call the sheriff so they could come out and look at the papers he had in the truck to prove his ownership of the claim. The confrontation ended in murder, however. And even if Graham and his wife claim self-defense, Schrader had clearly been on Graham's mind.
Three weeks before the shooting, Rae Ann called the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix, and the agent who took the call wrote in his log, "Last week her husband [Graham] came out to the claim with an equipment operator to begin work when Fred Schrader brought out an automatic weapon and threatened to kill them if they should go forward to dig."
Elaine Schrader says the incident never happened, and although Fred did have an AK-47, it's unlikely he could have had such an encounter without her knowing about it.
Perhaps the agent taking the complaint misheard Rae Ann Graham and confused the incident three years ago as happening more recently. The U.S. Attorney's Office would not comment on that possibility. But the earlier episode had really been between Graham and Elaine, not Graham and Fred, and no automatic weapons had been flashed. Elaine says Fred had a pistol tucked in his belt; Graham told the police he saw the handle of a pistol sticking out of Fred's pocket. Of the other witnesses, neither Graham's equipment operator nor Clay Rineholt saw any guns at all. Rineholt goes on to say that although Elaine was irate, there were no bodily threats from either side.
Until much later. Elaine had heard rumblings that Graham was not a man to be messed with.
Everyone in Apache Junction had heard Moose Graham's stories of how he had killed three other men, all in self-defense. He told the Pinal County Sheriff's Office that he had shot and killed two men who broke into a bar he owned in Chicago in the 1960s--again because the police wouldn't protect him--and that he had shot "two niggers" who broke into his house in Tampa, killing one and wounding the other.
None of those shootings turns up in police records because Graham was never charged--or because they never happened. One of his lawyers from that time has no recollection of the shootings, but says, "I have always found Moose to be straightforward. He often did a lot of his own legal research--at least Rae Ann did. He's not just a dumb country boy. He's very hardheaded, but very bright."
Both Moose and Rae Ann have long arrest records, though neither apparently ever spent more than 30 days in jail. In 1981 in Tampa, the couple allegedly assaulted a man with a pipe. They were charged with aggravated assault and battery and put on probation.
Graham has been arrested for theft, possession of an altered bank note and for keeping houses of "ill fame." He owned strip joints in Tampa, and he was arrested for selling liquor without a license, because, rather than sell beer at his clubs, he would give it away for free--provided you paid a cover charge and bought lap dances from the strippers.
Rae Ann was a topless dancer with arrests for committing a lewd and lascivious act--for which she was fined and put on probation--and for keeping a house of "ill fame"; the disposition of the latter charge is not clear from police records. Ironically, when Moose was arrested, Rae Ann told the Pinal County sheriff's police that one of the reasons they had come to Arizona was "to get away from crime and problems in Florida."
The night before the murder, Graham ran into a Pinal County constable named Howard Vincent Holbrook in a parking lot in Apache Junction. They recognized each other because Holbrook had once served Graham with a subpoena. Holbrook later told the police that Graham was agitated, very frustrated and complaining about not finding justice out on his mining claim.
"At the end of our conversation," Holbrook reported, "he said, 'Well,' he said, 'if this judge can't do something for me,' he says, 'there's gonna be some shooting out there.'"
Graham had two handguns and a rifle in his pickup truck when he drove out to meet Darrell Hand on the morning of the 16th. He brought witnesses, as the U.S. Attorney had suggested. And when Fred Schrader ran out of his trailer, wearing a bathrobe and slippers and carrying a gun to defend a pile of dirt that didn't even belong to him, Graham shot him dead.
@body:Whether or not Fred Schrader's death was premeditated, his friends fault him. None of them thought he'd ever use a gun, so when he ran outside with one in his hand, it was only a prop. They doubt he had any intention to use it. They would have shot Graham right through the door, they swear; or they would have gone out unarmed and told him what-for. But Fred had a pistol in his hand and he didn't shoot it, and according to the Wild West code still in effect in Apache Junction, that was a mistake.
"Fred, he wouldn't have hurt a fly," one friend says. "But you don't come at somebody with a gun in your hand. I would have dropped him, too.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.