John Wilkes Booth

|
6
John Wilkes Booth

Illustration depicting John Wilkes Booth preparing to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln in the balcony of Ford's Theatre, Washington D.C., April 14, 1865.

Kean Collection/Getty Images

Although President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by John Wilkes Booth in 1865, the details of Booth's capture remain shrouded in mystery.

After Booth, a handsome actor, assassinated Lincoln in a crowded theater, he became the target of a 12-day, multistate manhunt spanning from Washington, D.C., to Maryland. Fleeing from federal troops -- and a $100,000 reward for his capture -- Booth spent five nights hiding in the Maryland woods and eventually crossed the Potomac River, where he sought refuge in a barn in rural Virginia. All while nursing a broken leg caused by an ill-timed theatrical leap after firing at Lincoln.

Booth was eventually discovered hiding in the barn, but refused to surrender even when the barn was set on fire. By some accounts, he was shot and immediately died. By others, he suffered a bullet wound to the neck and languished for days. Or he died of painful burns. One way or another, Booth died in 1865. Or did he?

Despite an autopsy thought to confirm his identity, some believe Booth escaped and lived under an assumed name in locales ranging from Granbury, Texas, to Enid, Okla., until he died of natural causes in the 1900s [sources: Biography, White].

|