Joe Burnett
Famous Unrelated (as far as we know) Burnetts

Compiled by E. Sue Terhune


Oklahoma City Policeman Who Killed The Man Who Killed The Man Who
Killed Jesse James

by Jim Cloud

Joe Burnett, whose family was related to Captain Samuel Burk Burnett, was among Oklahoma City's early day officers. In Dec 1903, Joe Burnett arrested Ed Kelly who was on parole from Colorado for killing Bob Ford, the man who had slain Jesse James. After Kelly returned to the Lewis Hotel where he was staying, he made open threats that he was gunning for a policeman. Kelly was known to wear an overcoat and carried two guns with him at all times. Kelly kept his hands in his pockets while on the streets, and hung out around the low dives on west 4th and 2nd streets.

On Wednesday, January 13th, 1904, Edward O. Kelly was on the streets, this time without his overcoat. Kelly was arrested by a policeman named Bunker and was later released. He went straight to his hotel room, where he made comments to others that the police had better not attempt to arrest him again. Later that evening, officer Joe Burnett was walking along his beat on the south side of First Street in front of the McCord-Collins building.  Burnett encountered Kelly and said "Hello Kelly".  Immediately Kelly struck at the lawman. He had a gun in his right hand and he told Burnett, "You come with me. I'll arrest you, you s__ of a b____".  As Kelly struck at the police officer, Burnett grabbed the gun with his left hand. Kelly shot the gun till empty. While discharging the gun and wrestling with Burnett, Kelly called him all kinds of names. Kelly told Burnett that he was going to murder him.  Burnett called for help repeatedly as the fierce fight continued for about fifteen minutes. Kelly chewed up both ears of the policeman, as it was a death struggle from the moment it started.

Finally a Frisco Railroad baggageman came running from the depot and grabbed Kelly's hand, thus releasing Burnett's gun hand. The officer shot and killed Ed Kelly. The battle was a terrible one. Burnett's left ear was powder-burned. There were two bullet holes in the back of his overcoat and the left hip-pocket was torn by a bullet. Burnett's gloves were burned and his clothing was on fire when his friends reached him. A number of persons identified Ed Kelly as the assassin of Bob Ford, who had killed Jesse James.  On January 28, 1904 the body of Ed Kelly, age 46, was interned at Fairlawn Cemetery in north Oklahoma City. Kelly's death came approximately 12 years after his killing of Bob Ford in Creede, Colorado, on June 8, 1892.

Ed Kelly
Bob Ford
Jesse James

Joe Burnett continued with the Oklahoma City Police Department, serving as a Captain and later as assistant Chief of Police. Burnett died on July 20, 1917 of paralysis at St. Anthony's Hospital. Ironically, Burnett is buried in a marked grave in the same cemetery as the man he killed.

Complete article by Jim Cloud