This episode was narrated by Jay Thomas. In Albuquerque's National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, there's a small antique vial that once contained a wildly popular drug called Radithor. How did this doctor-approved "cure-all" end up destroying countless lives? Inside Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry there's a giant World War Two Submarine. It's a German "U-Boat", known by its infamous number, 5-0-5. But during the war U-505 mysteriously vanished. How did U-505 end up in Chicago, and how did its sudden disappearance from battle nearly 70 years ago help bring Germany's invincible U-Boat fleet to its knees? Secured in the archives of the New Jersey State Police Museum is a faded piece of paper inscribed with sloppy handwriting and a curious insignia. It's a ransom note from what's been called "The Crime of the Century."
This episode was narrated by Jay Thomas.
In Albuquerque's National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, there's a small antique vial that once contained a wildly popular drug called Radithor. How did this doctor-approved "cure-all" end up destroying countless lives?
Inside Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry there's a giant World War Two Submarine. It's a German "U-Boat", known by its infamous number, 5-0-5. But during the war U-505 mysteriously vanished. How did U-505 end up in Chicago, and how did its sudden disappearance from battle nearly 70 years ago help bring Germany's invincible U-Boat fleet to its knees?
Secured in the archives of the New Jersey State Police Museum is a faded piece of paper inscribed with sloppy handwriting and a curious insignia. It's a ransom note from what's been called "The Crime of the Century."
For even more Mysteries at the Museum, head to discovery+. Go to discoveryplus.com/mystery to start your 7-day free trial today. Terms apply.
Find episode transcripts here: https://mysteries-at-the-museum.simplecast.com/episodes/radithor-u-boat-ransom-note
SPEAKER 1: A hidden tape recorder that lies at the heart of the biggest presidential scandal in US history.
SPEAKER 2: People are shocked. What did the president know and when did he know it?
SPEAKER 1: A captured Nazi war machine with a top secret cargo that helped change the course of World War II.
SPEAKER 3: That was the first enemy warship seized by the United States Navy since the War of 1812.
SPEAKER 1: And a revolutionary medicine hailed as a miraculous cure-all that was really a potion of death.
SPEAKER 4: His skull was riddled with holes from radium poisoning.
SPEAKER 1: Across the United States, in the nation's most revered institutions, our celebrated history is on display.
Wondrous treasures from the past. Bizarre relics. But behind every amazing artifact is another tale to be told
and a secret waiting to be revealed.
These are the Mysteries at the Museum. Grand Rapids, Michigan. On the banks of the river that gave this city its
name is a museum dedicated to America's 38th President, Gerald Ford. Over 18,000 artifacts here chronicle
Ford's term in office from 1974 to 1977.
But there's one object here that's inexorably linked not to Ford but to his predecessor, a president whose very
name for many is synonymous with crime, corruption, and scandal. And this artifact was at the very center of
the political firestorm that ended up dethroning this American president and rocking the government to its very
It weighs 10 and 1/2 pounds and is made largely of plastic. This vintage reel to reel tape recorder was used
inside America's most important executive office. And for curator Donald Holloway, it bore witness to the dark
secrets of a man bound for infamy.
SPEAKER 2: One of the things, as historians, we think of as that old proverbial fly on the wall. That tape recorder is the fly on
SPEAKER 1: What incriminating conversations did this machine record, and how would it ultimately help destroy an
American president? Washington, DC, June 17, 1972. At 2:00 in the morning, inside a nondescript office
building, a security guard is making his rounds when he discovers a door suspiciously propped open.
Six floors up, the door to the Democratic National Committee headquarters has also been jimmied. Police are
alerted and soon make a shocking discovery. In the office, they catch five men pilfering through files and
planting electronic surveillance equipment.
SPEAKER 2: They were stealing things. They were breaking wiretapping laws.
SPEAKER 1: All five men are promptly arrested, but investigators are baffled by the crime. Although it's an election year and
Democrats are trying to unseat the incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon, it's unclear if the break-in is
SPEAKER 2: Why would anybody be breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters? It was kind of a cheap
SPEAKER 1: Though no one realizes it yet, the incident will expose a sinister conspiracy, one that will soon be known for the
very scene of the crime-- the office building known as the Watergate. Not long after the arrests, the police and
the FBI make some disturbing discoveries about the burglars.
One of them, James McCord, is the security director for the Republican committee to re-elect President Richard
Nixon. And in the bank account of another, Bernard Barker, there's a $25,000 cashier's check that's been
deposited by a member of Nixon's re-election campaign team.
SPEAKER 2: When news broke that there was a connection with the committee to re-elect the president, all sorts of
antennae go up. The news sniffs a spot of blood in the water. This is an incredibly interesting story.
SPEAKER 1: Were the Watergate burglars being paid by the Republicans to spy on the Democrats? With journalists
demanding answers, President Nixon's press secretary dismisses the incident as a third rate burglary. The
deflection works. Despite the growing scandal, that November Richard Nixon is reelected in a landslide. But his
triumph is short-lived.
Not long into Nixon's second term, the final verdict on the Watergate burglars comes in. Not only are the men
convicted of burglary and wiretapping, evidence from the trial shows that they were part of a conspiracy to
sabotage the Democratic presidential campaign and secure President Nixon's re-election.
Americans are faced with an unsettling question, how deep is the conspiracy?
SPEAKER 2: How complicit is the president in this? What did the president know, and when did he know it?
SPEAKER 1: On February 7, 1973, a senate committee launches a full-scale investigation to determine who in the Nixon
administration was involved in the Watergate crimes. The president responds by going on national television.
RICHARD NIXON:No one in the White House was involved. This office is a sacred trust, and I am determined to be worthy of that
SPEAKER 1: Despite the president's denials, senators grill officials from Nixon's administration. Then there is an unexpected
SPEAKER 2: In July 1973, a man no one had heard of steps up to the table in front of the committee.
SPEAKER 1: The mystery man is Alexander Butterfield, President Nixon's Deputy Assistant. Under oath, Butterfield drops a
bombshell. He reveals the existence of a White House taping system that automatically recorded all
conversations with President Richard Nixon.
They were installed, of course, for historical purposes to record the president's business.
SPEAKER 1: And this is one of the Oval Office tape decks that recorded secret conversations that could prove whether the
president was complicit in the Watergate break-in.
SPEAKER 2: As soon as people know there are tapes from the Oval Office, everybody wants it.
SPEAKER 1: Nixon is defiant.
SPEAKER 2: Nixon refused to turn over the tapes. Nixon claimed executive privilege.
SPEAKER 5: Many people assume that the tapes must incriminate the president or that otherwise he wouldn't insist on their
privacy. The president has nothing to hide.
SPEAKER 1: After an intensive year-long legal battle, the Supreme Court settles the matter.
SPEAKER 2: The Supreme Court comes down rather firmly against Richard Nixon, and Nixon had to turn over the tapes.
SPEAKER 1: After combing through hundreds of hours of recordings, senate committee investigators soon find what they are
SPEAKER 2: The tape that finally does in Richard Nixon-- it's called the "smoking gun" tape.
SPEAKER 1: Recorded a mere six days after the Watergate break-in, Nixon is heard strategizing to cover up the crime with
his chief of staff, Bob Haldeman.
RICHARD NIXON:Call the FBI in and say that we wish for the country, don't go any further into this case, period.
SPEAKER 1: In his efforts to quash the FBI's investigation of the Watergate break-in, Nixon crosses the line.
SPEAKER 2: He broke the law by obstructing justice, by using the power of the presidency to hide criminal activity.
SPEAKER 1: Although the president did not authorize the break-in, the "smoking gun" tape proves he is guilty of trying to
cover up the burglars' crimes after the fact. Just two weeks after the release of the audio tapes, the president
finally succumbs to the scandal.
RICHARD NIXON:To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as president, I must
put the interests of America first. Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
SPEAKER 1: By resigning, Nixon avoids a near-certain impeachment and trial in the Senate. The next day, on August 10th,
the Vice President Gerald Ford is sworn in as Nixon's successor. But the legacy of Richard Nixon will not be
SPEAKER 2: The saga of President Richard Nixon is our great American tragedy. You have this epic personality, this person
capable of greatness. In his hubris, he overreaches. And in overreaching, he brings himself down.
SPEAKER 1: At the Ford Presidential Museum, this tape recorder remains a tangible reminder of the only president in US
history to resign from office.
Over 40 years earlier, long before Richard Nixon shattered America's trust in government, the public's blind
faith in a strange new medicine would prove to be a death sentence for thousands. Next on Mysteries at the
Albuquerque, New Mexico. In the desert outside this southwestern city, the top secret Manhattan Project gave
birth to the world's first atomic bomb.
It's only fitting then that the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History is based here, housing an awe-
inspiring collection of rockets, bombs, and other atomic curios. But one artifact here lies at the center of one of
America's strangest medical mysteries. This small, brown, antique vial once held half an ounce of a wildly
popular miracle drug, it was called Radithor.
But how did this doctor-approved cure-all end up destroying countless lives, and how did it prompt the US
government to finally protect its citizens from bogus medicines?
The story begins in 1927 when a wealthy industrialist, Ebben Byers, seeks relief for the arm he's injured in a bad
SPEAKER 4: One doctor said, I have a cure for you. Try drinking this incredible new serum called Radithor.
SPEAKER 1: Byers follows his doctor's advice and tries what's touted as the greatest therapeutic force known to mankind.
Soon, Byers is drinking three bottles of Radithor a day.
The secret behind Radithor's supposed power lies in a singular ingredient discovered at the turn of the 20th
century by French scientists Marie and Pierre Curie. By refining uranium ore, the Curies isolate a new
radioactive element-- radium. The pair wins a Nobel Prize for their discovery.
And when radium shows some early success in treating skin cancer, some doctors hail it as a wonder drug.
Though the effects of this radioactive element on the human body are virtually unknown, radium hits the
SPEAKER 4: People were incredibly fascinated by it. It started a great new craze, a new fad.
SPEAKER 1: Drug makers ascribe radium with the power to cure everything from acne to cancer. And soon, the cutting edge
ingredient appears across pharmacy shelves in products like bath salts, face creams, and even toothpastes.
SPEAKER 4: There were probably hundreds of products that contained radium. It was a global phenomena.
SPEAKER 1: But radium's attributes aren't just medicinal. While Eben Byers is guzzling radium-laced Radithor to cure his
injured arm, a completely separate group of people is ingesting radium in a very different way.
SPEAKER 4: One of the most amazing properties about radium itself was the fact that it actually glowed in the dark.
SPEAKER 1: And it's this quality that will tragically expose radium's true nature. Since 1917, the US Radium Corporation in
East Orange, New Jersey has had the contract to put the finishing touches on a line of watches.
On an assembly line, female workers use radium paint to make watch faces glow in the dark. Painting up to 250
dials a day, their brushes lose their fine points. So the women routinely re-moisten the tips by dipping the
brushes in their mouths.
SPEAKER 4: They were ingesting minute amounts of radium every time they dip that paintbrush into their mouth. Over time,
it really built up in their systems.
SPEAKER 1: By 1922, several of the women from the assembly line begin to suffer inexplicable and horrifying symptoms.
SPEAKER 4: Their teeth were falling out. There was a general numbness in their jaw, and they couldn't figure out what was
SPEAKER 1: Doctors in East Orange, New Jersey are flummoxed, and watched helplessly as the women's teeth, jaws, skulls,
and other bones mysteriously deteriorate, until many of the victims eventually die. And these women who
become known as the radium girls aren't the only ones afflicted.
For those like Ebben Byers who on his physician's advice has consumed over 1,000 bottles of the wonder drug
Radithor, the results are equally gruesome.
SPEAKER 4: He was in really bad shape. His skull was riddled with holes, and his brain had begun to be abscessed, as well.
SPEAKER 1: Finally, in 1928, a group of doctors and lawyers proves in court that radium is the culprit in poisoning the New
SPEAKER 4: Once radium is deposited into the bone, it ends up actually disintegrating the bone from the inside out. In
essence, your bones disappear.
SPEAKER 1: But it's not until the 1930s, when Ebben Byers and more radium girls die, that the full extent of radium's lethal
properties becomes widely known.
SPEAKER 4: The death of the radium girls, combined with the death of people like Byers, really brought to the public's
attention that there was something very, very deeply wrong with radium.
SPEAKER 1: And their deaths also prompt the federal government to take much needed action.
SPEAKER 4: The Food and Drug Administration, which until this point hadn't been a very strong arm of the government at all,
really began to take control of the situation. It really made them this incredibly strong organization that we now
SPEAKER 1: Soon, the production of Radithor is halted, and the fledgling Food and Drug Administration acquires power to
regulate new medicines for safety.
At the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, this vial of Radithor remains a powerful reminder of the
countless sacrifices it took to save the nation from bogus cure-alls.
A decade after the FDA helps expose the shocking truth behind Radithor, a different branch of the US
government takes part in a massive cover up that helps the Allies' turn the tables on the Nazis and win World
War II. Coming up on Mysteries at the Museum.
Chicago, Illinois. The bustling capital of the Midwest is home to the largest science museum in the Western
hemisphere. Each year, some 2 million people visit the city's Museum of Science and Industry and marvel at 14
acres filled with displays.
But as curator Kurt Hahn Vellner can attest to, it's the most enormous exhibit here that is truly awe-inspiring.
SPEAKER 3: Just it's sheer size and scale. It really takes people's breath away. It's quite a spectacular sight.
SPEAKER 1: It is 254 feet long, 60 feet tall, and weighs 880 metric tons. In its time, this steel monster was one of the
deadliest war machines ever created. It is a German submarine or U-boat, known by its infamous number, 505.
But during World War II's pivotal Battle of the Atlantic, U-505 mysteriously vanished. The German high
command believed she was lost forever. What happened, and how did U-505's sudden disappearance from
battle ultimately helped bring Germany's invincible U-boat fleet to its knees?
1943, during the Second World War, thousands of US merchant ships transport desperately needed war
supplies for the fight against Nazi Germany. But for these American vessels, the mission across the Atlantic is a
deadly gauntlet as German U-boats stalked their enemy from below.
SPEAKER 3: These U-boats were meant to do one thing, and that was to blow up as many Allied ships as they could possibly
SPEAKER 1: By the spring of 1943, U-boats have sent over 2,000 merchant ships to the bottom of the Atlantic. U-505, one of
Germany's largest, farthest-ranging, and most powerful warships has sunk eight Allied vessels and counting.
She and the rest of the German U-boat fleet threatened to shut down this vital supply route, and the outcome of
World War II hangs in the balance.
SPEAKER 3: The Allies were absolutely clear that they had to do something to stop the lethal effect of the German U-boats.
SPEAKER 1: What makes the U-boats so effective is their stealth. And because the subs used an unbreakable code to
communicate with the German high command, the Allies have little idea of where and when they will strike.
To break the U-boats' deadly grip on the seas, US naval commanders need to crack the code, and the only way
to do that is to somehow retrieve the code books off an enemy U-boat that hold the key to the German cipher.
But safely getting these top secret documents off a hostile submarine is thought to be all but impossible, but
one American commander is ready for the challenge.
His name is Captain Dan Gallery, and he's leading a special task force on a daring mission that's never been
attempted before to capture a U-boat. On the morning of June 4, 1944, while hunting for U-boats off the coast of
West Africa, Gallery gets his chance.
SPEAKER 3: Gallery describes this Saturday morning as being quiet. Suddenly he gets a message from one of his pilots that
says Frenchie to Blue Jay, I think I've got one.
SPEAKER 1: One of Gallery's destroyers, the USS Chatelaine, has picked up something on its sonar just 800 meters away.
Captain Gallery doesn't know it yet, but his task force has found the German U-boat 505.
Gallery orders an attack. Wildcat fighter planes scramble, and destroyers begin dropping depth charges on the
diving U-boat. Inside U-505, it's pandemonium.
SPEAKER 3: All hell is breaking loose on that submarine. They're under siege.
SPEAKER 1: U-505's captain knows what he must do. To keep the u-boat and its secret code books out of enemy hands, he
must sink his own ship.
SPEAKER 3: The captain understood that the submarine had information that would be invaluable to the Allies, and so his
last command was to make sure that it didn't get in the Allies' hands.
SPEAKER 1: He orders his crew to flood the sub and abandon ship.
SPEAKER 3: The water starts rushing into that submarine, and that submarine is about to go to the bottoms of the depths.
SPEAKER 1: Aboard the US carrier, Captain Gallery sees an opportunity he's been waiting for, but he must act quickly.
SPEAKER 3: Gallery commands a group of his best sailors to row over to the U-505.
SPEAKER 1: While the U-boats crew are being rescued, eight US sailors board the German warship and descend into its
control room. But before they can find and secure the Nazi code books, they must stop the vessel from sinking,
and one brave US sailor finds a way.
SPEAKER 3: The water at this point was gushing into this submarine. This thing is submerged in several feet of water. He
puts it back in place and stops the water from rushing into the submarine.
SPEAKER 1: It's an unprecedented moment of triumph for Gallery and his crew.
SPEAKER 3: It was the first enemy warship seized by the United States Navy since the War of 1812.
SPEAKER 1: On board, the American sailors discover a gold mine of intelligence, including the U-boat's secret code books. If
these codes can be deciphered, they might allow the Allies to pinpoint the routes and positions of other U-boats
and destroy them. But the only way that will work is if Gallery and his crew can keep the capture of U-505
hidden from the German command.
SPEAKER 3: The Naval command, the last thing they wanted was for the Germans to be tipped off that we had literally
captured one of their submarines.
SPEAKER 1: To ensure U-505's capture is kept secret, Gallery receives explicit directions from Washington.
SPEAKER 3: He was instructed to take the U-505 all the way to Bermuda, which was 2,500 miles away. The German Naval
command assumed that the U-505, like so many other of the German U-boats, had gone to the bottom with all
59 of those young sailors on it.
SPEAKER 1: The Germans also believe that U-505's top secret code books are safely sealed in the sunken warship. Little do
they know that they will soon be in the hands of Allied codebreakers, nor do the Germans suspect that U-505
itself will soon be crawling with American engineers intent on learning the secrets of the Nazi's most powerful
The top secret German co-ordinate codes are deciphered, and the US Navy can now pinpoint U-boat positions
across the Atlantic.
SPEAKER 3: The hunter is now truly the hunted. Now the Germans who have had everything their own way for the last two
or three years, the tables are turned.
SPEAKER 1: By 1945, nearly 75% of the German U-boat fleet has been tracked down and destroyed, and the Allies have
victory at sea. It is only when Germany finally surrenders that the true fate of U-505 can be revealed. And here
in Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry, the submarine remains, the only U-boat ever captured during
World War II and the key that helped win the Battle of the Atlantic.
From a stunning victory to a national tragedy. How did the decoding of this cryptic note solve one of the 20th
century's most sensational crimes? Find out on Mysteries at the Museum.
About halfway between New York City and Philadelphia is Trenton, New Jersey. The state's capital may be small,
but it's no stranger to big city crime. And here at the New Jersey State Police Museum is evidence from
hundreds of Garden State crime scenes. But of all the mob hits and other misdeeds represented here, one case
ranks among the most infamous in American history.
Secured inside the museum's archive, sealed in plastic, is a faded piece of paper. It's inscribed in dark ink in
sloppy handwriting, and it's stamped with a curious insignia. At first glance, this 78-year-old document looks
inconsequential, but it sparked one of the biggest manhunts in history. It's a ransom note from what's been
called the crime of the century, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping.
Who wrote this note, and how did it become the key to solving one of America's most notorious crimes?
The story begins in 1927 when Charles Augustus Lindbergh makes history. Achieving what many at the time
considered impossible, he flies solo in a single engine propeller plane over 3,000 miles across the Atlantic.
SPEAKER 6: And America screams a salute to the intrepid airman.
SPEAKER 1: Not long afterwards, the famous pilot marries an heiress named Anne Morrow. And when the couple announces
the birth of their first child, Charles A. Lindbergh, III, the world is captivated once more.
SPEAKER 7: He was the world's most famous baby. He was known as the little eaglet. And Lindbergh wanted to protect and
wanted to shield him from the press.
SPEAKER 1: Lindbergh's protective instincts are not misplaced. The aviator's wealth and fame are about to become his
family's undoing. March 1, 1932, 8:00 PM. At the Lindbergh Estate in East Amwell, New Jersey, Anne Lindbergh
and her nursemaid put little eaglet to bed.
A mere two hours later, when the nurse returns to check on the sleeping infant, the unthinkable has happened--
the child has vanished. The Lindbergh's launch a frantic search, to no avail. Their baby is gone.
The only clue to his disappearance is this handwritten note left on the windowsill demanding a $50,000 ransom
for the child's return. Lindbergh notifies the state police who immediately begin analyzing the note.
SPEAKER 7: There were misspellings of words like ready, money. Where it said the baby was in good care, it was actually
spelled gut or [GERMAN] which would be a German way of writing good.
SPEAKER 1: This leads the police to suspect the kidnapper may be German. But the letter's most unusual feature is the
unique insignia at the bottom-- a red dot with two blue interlocking rings, three evenly spaced holes, and two
SPEAKER 7: The writer of the ransom note said that all future communications would have that signature on them.
SPEAKER 1: This clever device ensures copycats cannot pose as the kidnapper and extract the ransom. Within days, news of
the kidnapping spreads, sparking one of the biggest manhunts the world has ever known.
But it's not until months later that the kidnapper issues another note containing what the family has desperately
been waiting for-- instructions on where to drop off the ransom in exchange for their son.
On April 2, 1932, at Saint Raymond's cemetery in the Bronx, a go-between delivers $50,000 in marked bills to
the kidnapper and receives one final letter in exchange.
SPEAKER 7: This last and final ransom note says that the baby could be found on a boat called Nellie somewhere off of the
coast of New England around [INAUDIBLE]
SPEAKER 1: At the bottom, the all too familiar signature. The note is authentic. But a desperate search of [INAUDIBLE] turns
up nothing, and the trail runs cold.
Until one month later, in the woods five miles from the Lindbergh home, a truck driver makes a horrifying
discovery-- the decomposing body of an infant.
SPEAKER 7: Both Charles Lindbergh and the baby's nanny positively identified the remains of the baby as being Charles
SPEAKER 1: An autopsy determines the infant has likely been dead since the night he went missing. What began as a
kidnapping case is now tragically a murder investigation. 2 and 1/2 years later, the police finally make a
SPEAKER 7: In September 1934, a man drives into a gas station in New York and pays for $1 worth of gas with a $10 gold
certificate that was part of the ransom money.
SPEAKER 1: It is one of the marked bills used in the cemetery exchange. Police traced the bill back to a German-born
carpenter living in Brooklyn.
SPEAKER 8: It took investigators more than two years to discover and arrest a prime suspect, Bruno Richard Hauptmann.
SPEAKER 7: When Hauptmann is arrested and the investigators search his house, they find about $14,000 of ransom money
hidden in his garage.
SPEAKER 1: But the key to the prosecution's case is the series of ransom notes.
SPEAKER 7: The investigators took handwriting samples from Richard Hauptmann-- letters that he had written previously,
notebooks. Eight experts analyzed the handwriting and testified saying that Hauptmann had written all the
SPEAKER 1: It takes the jury 11 hours to reach their verdict. They find Hauptmann guilty of kidnapping and first degree
murder. Just over a year later, he is executed by electric chair.
SPEAKER 8: Flash United Press [INAUDIBLE], Hauptmann executed 8:47 and one half.
SPEAKER 1: Up to the very moment of his death, Hauptmann proclaims his innocence, leading some who study the case to
question the verdict to this day.
SPEAKER 7: There are a lot of unanswered questions. For instance, where is the $30,000 of missing ransom money? There
are people that believe that Hauptmann-- there's no way that he could have been the only person involved.
I don't know if we'll ever know for sure who kidnapped the Lindbergh baby.
SPEAKER 1: Only one thing is certain, the last remaining clues of this enduring mystery are carefully preserved inside the
New Jersey State Police Museum.
50 years earlier, across the country, another manhunt was underway. On the New Mexico frontier, a legendary
lawman pursues one of the old west's most infamous outlaws. Next on Mysteries at the Museum.
Ruidoso, New Mexico. 130 years ago, this was the Wild West where bandits and lawmen once battled to own the
frontier. And today, the River Museum houses an artifact from one of the most famous western tales ever told.
It's a gun that is synonymous with the American frontier, a Colt thunderer revolver.
SPEAKER 8: The thunderer came along in 1877. And it was very popular in its time because it was a double action revolver,
and it gives you a lot more firepower.
SPEAKER 1: But this gun was never fired. It's a ceremonial piece, a gift recognizing a renowned act of heroism. The revolver
was presented to one of New Mexico's most famous sheriffs, Pat Garrett, as a reward for killing America's most
legendary outlaw, Billy the Kid-- or so the story goes. But did Pat Garrett really kill the Kid?
It's 1880. Pat Garrett is made sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico. In this near lawless frontier, his singular
mission is to hunt down the territory's most wanted fugitive, Billy the Kid. At the tender age of 21, the Kid is
already proven to be a cold-blooded killer. His victims are many, and now he's wanted for gunning down Lincoln
county's former sheriff.
SPEAKER 8: You just don't kill a sheriff. Garrett had to find the Kid. He had to get him.
SPEAKER 1: After chasing the Kid for months, Garrett succeeds in getting Billy locked up in the Lincoln County Courthouse.
SPEAKER 8: He was scheduled to hang on May 13, 1881.
SPEAKER 1: But the wily Kid is not going down without a fight. After just two days in custody, he breaks out, killing two
guardsmen in the process. Now the pressure is on Sheriff Garrett to reclaim his prisoner. In a lucky break,
Garrett gets a tip that the Kid is hiding out in a house 140 miles west in Fort Sumner.
SPEAKER 8: He took two men, went up there. And they arrived on the night of July 14, 1881.
SPEAKER 1: Garrett and his men wait an ambush at the house where Billy was sighted. Garrett hides inside the house while
his deputies keep a lookout on the porch.
SPEAKER 8: Suddenly, to their surprise, this guy came walking up on the porch with them.
SPEAKER 1: As the man enters the house, Garrett quickly draws his gun and fires.
SPEAKER 8: First bullet hit the Kid more or less under the heart and killed him instantly.
SPEAKER 1: Garrett's task is complete. The body is quickly buried the next day and Pat Garrett is hailed as a hero. In
appreciation, the county district attorney presents the sheriff with this gold and silver Colt revolver.
But as Garrett collects his reward, some feel his story of killing the Kid is too simple and convenient to believe.
SPEAKER 8: Problem with the Old West is that things weren't documented that well. There's going to be things that we're
never really going to know for certain that happened the night the Kid was killed.
SPEAKER 1: Some think Pat Garrett shot the wrong man by accident that night in the dark, and then instead of coming
clean, he conspired to cover it up. And several acquaintances of the Kid reported seeing him after his supposed
death, leading newspapers to claim that the legendary outlaw was still alive.
SPEAKER 8: There will always be unanswered questions and various mysteries involved with the Kid and his story.
SPEAKER 1: Did Pat Garrett lie about what happened? Did the Kid live on after that summer night in 1881? It seems unlikely
that anyone will ever know for sure. But here at the Ruidoso River Museum, this prized revolver helps keep his
80 years after the purported death of this mythic outlaw, four unassuming teenagers would rise from nowhere
to become legends in their own time. What they did at this very lunch counter would incite a movement that
fundamentally changes the nation. Next on Mysteries at the Museum.
Washington DC. America's proud capital is home to the largest museum complex in the world, the Smithsonian
Institution. One branch of the Smithsonian, the National Museum of American History is renowned for its
collection of national treasures like Abraham Lincoln's top hat and George Washington's uniform.
And on display on one of the main floors is a relic from a volatile era in American history. It is made of metal and
wood. It's 21-feet wide, 4 and 1/2 feet tall, and is accompanied by four fading vinyl chairs. But this restaurant
lunch counter is more than a slice of 1950s Americana.
SPEAKER 9: What's interesting about it is not so much that it's a lunch counter but what happened there.
SPEAKER 1: How did this ordinary lunch counter become center stage in an event that would help overturn centuries of
oppression and change America forever?
The story begins in 1960, half a century ago when the United States is a segregated nation. The separation of
blacks and whites in restaurants and other public areas is enforced by law, especially in the South. A mass
movement for racial equality is growing. But for those demanding civil rights, there is reason to be cautious.
SPEAKER 9: It's important to understand that segregation was supported by tremendous violence. Stepping out of line could
subject someone and their family to lynching, to beatings, all kinds of essentially terror activities.
SPEAKER 1: But in Greensboro, North Carolina, four young African-American college students, outraged by the daily
humiliations of being treated like second class citizens, decide it's time to take a stand, whatever the risk. Their
names are David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, and Joseph McNeil.
On the afternoon of February 1st, the four students walk into the Woolworth's Five and Dime and sit down at
this lunch counter, which is clearly designated "Whites Only."
SPEAKER 9: The white waitress who was there came over to them and said, you know you can't sit here. Why don't you just
leave? And they said, very politely, no, we're going to sit here until we are served.
SPEAKER 1: Soon, a policeman arrives. This is the critical moment the four young teenagers had feared most.
SPEAKER 9: The prospect of arrest was terrifying because many young black men had disappeared from Southern jails
never to be seen again.
SPEAKER 1: Despite their fears, the young men defied the policeman's orders to leave.
SPEAKER 9: But this policeman was not sure what really to do because they weren't creating a disruption, they were just
quietly sitting there asking to be served.
SPEAKER 1: Fortunately, for the four boys, the policeman decides not to arrest them.
SPEAKER 9: So eventually, the manager just closes down the lunch counter, and probably thinks that after they did it this
one time that'll be it.
SPEAKER 1: But the next day, the four return with several friends from college who sit with them in protest at the same
counter. On the third day, 60 students join in.
SPEAKER 9: The supporters grew and grew and grew. They gained support from some parts of the white community that
they hadn't expected.
SPEAKER 1: And by February 4th, the fourth day of the protest, 300 people jam inside the store to show solidarity. Soon, the
media arrives and the protest becomes national news. And what started as a grassroots action ignites a mass
movement, spurring tens of thousands of protesters to staged sit-ins across the country.
SPEAKER 9: There are more than 80 sit-ins in nine different states.
SPEAKER 1: But violent opposition to the protesters is also mounting.
SPEAKER 9: There are mobs of angry supporters of segregation. People yell at them, spit at them, make death threats to
them. People are beaten and people are arrested.
SPEAKER 1: Americans across the country are shocked by the dramatic events unfolding on TV.
SPEAKER 9: To have African-Americans treated as if they were dogs, it made obvious what was wrong about segregation.
SPEAKER 1: Then back where it all began in Greensboro, North Carolina, the Woolworth's manager puts a sudden end to the
protest in his city. Fed up with days of disruption and chaos, he simply closes the store. And the four college
students that started it all go home.
At that point, they don't know if their actions have made any difference. Then something extraordinary
happens. On July 26, after six months of unflattering publicity, the Greensboro store reopens with an
SPEAKER 9: They reopen, and Woolworth decides to desegregate that store. That was a pivotal moment in the modern civil
rights movement and in the history of the United States.
SPEAKER 1: Blacks and whites can now sit as equals at this very lunch counter.
SPEAKER 9: Eventually, that leads to the desegregation of lunch counters in Woolworths across the country.
SPEAKER 10: The Greensboro sit-in and the four young men were successful, and ultimately the Civil Rights movement is
successful in changing America.
here. It didn't just change America for African-Americans, it changed America for everyone.
SPEAKER 1: This countertop has long been out of service. But here at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American
History, the legacy of the Greensboro four lives on.
Radioactive remedies and chilling ransom notes. Secret tapes and captured warships. These are theMysteries
at the Museum.
SPEAKER 2: This is a tape recorder from the late 1960s. It's a four-speed, reel to reel tape. The conversations are captured
on magnetic tape. This would have been hooked up to an external microphone. These microphones were hidden
in the Oval Office and elsewhere.