The Blain Lewis article in the October 2019 issue of the PRT mentions the arrest of Manuel Montoya and his son Manuel Jr. for the 1943 death of E. Neil Carr. This article provides information about the Carr and Montoya families, the criminal investigation, and subsequent trial. In addition to the newspaper sources cited below, information for this article comes from Betty Barr’s “Hidden Treasures of Santa Cruz County” (2006) and Patricia Preciado Martin’s interview of Paulina Montoya in “Songs My Mother Sang to Me” (1992).
Edmund Neil Carr was born in south India in 1893 where his parents were missionaries. He arrived in New York in 1919 and eventually made his way to Douglas, AZ. There, in 1930, he married May Isabel Smith, an Englishwoman born in 1885. Neil and May spent the early years of their marriage managing several guest ranches in Arizona including Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe and Sierra Linda Ranch near Cave Creek. [Tucson Citizen, 9/10/1931 and 10/19/1932]. In 1933 they purchased Hacienda los Encinos in Sonoita. The Carrs were active and respected in the Sonoita community – Neil was a member of the horse show committee at the Santa Cruz County Fairgrounds and an officer in the Dude Ranchers Association. Soon after settling in Sonoita they adopted two children, John and Wendy.
Manuel Montoya was born in Bisbee in 1888. In 1921 he married Paulina Moreno who was born in Redington in 1905. The Montoyas had eight children. Manuel Sr. worked as a laborer and ranch hand in various locations in Cochise County including Colonel Hooker’s Sierra Bonita Ranch and the Sierra Linda guest ranch in Portal. Manuel also rode as a jockey in Tucson horse races. Paulina did washing and ironing wherever they lived. The 1940 census lists Manuel as a ranch hand on the Carr guest ranch, along with sons Julio and Manuel Jr. His 1942 WWII draft registration card lists his residence as the Larimore Ranch in Sonoita.
On June 26, 1943 Manuel and two of his sons, Manuel Jr., 19, and Quirino, 14, went to the guest ranch to retrieve some wood, a stove, and a washing machine they claimed they owned. A fight ensued and Carr suffered a fractured skull and died from his injuries the following day. Manuel Sr. and Manuel Jr. were arrested and charged with murder; Quirino was turned over to juvenile authorities. [Tucson Citizen 6/28/1943; AZ Daily Star 6/29/1943].
At the trial in August the prosecution contended that the Montoyas attacked Carr and hit him on the head with a piece of firewood. The Montoyas testified that they defended themselves with their fists after Carr attacked with a firewood club, and that Carr struck his head on a window or wall.
The weeklong trial ended with a deadlocked jury. Several testimonies possibly cast doubt on the events. Carr was 6’ tall and 150 lbs.; Montoya Sr. was 4’7” and less than 100 lbs. Patagonia Justice of the Peace H. D. Riggs testified that he had advised the Montoyas to go to Carr to get their property. They came to him after the fight and the youngest son was injured. Riggs swore out a complaint against Carr, but he died. [Tucson Citizen 8/6/1943, 8/10/1943; Arizona Republic 8/8/1943]. The Montoyas were released on bail and the case was eventually dismissed.
May Carr sold Los Encinos in 1946 and moved to Tucson; she died in 1953, age 67. John and Wendy graduated from Tucson High School and both attended the University of Arizona. Wendy married Mel Potter in 1954; both became professional rodeo competitors and train and sell rodeo horses at their ranch in Marana. John graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in wildlife management and became an Arizona Game and Fish wildlife manager. He authored the “Arizona Wildlife Viewing Guide” (1992} and “It was a Rough Road, AZ Game and Fish Stories” (1994}.
The Montoya family relocated to Tubac in 1943. Manuel Sr. worked for Mr. Wirt Bowman and built miles of retaque (stacked wood) fences for Bowman. Manuel Sr. died in 1975 at age 87. Paulina died in 2002 at age 97. Manuel Jr. and Quirino remained in the area and lived to be 81 and 87 respectively.