“A group of young boys raged together freely and safely around; one of them seemed to be of Irish and Mexican descent. After a little persuasion, he told …… that his name was Santiago Mackin (sic) and he had been kidnapped in Mimbres, New Mexico; of his young companions, he seemed to be treated kindly, and no one tried to stop our conversation … Beyond its smart looks which made it clear that he had fully understood everything we told him in Spanish and English, he took no further notice of us.”
On a balmy September morning in the little valley east of the Mimbres Mountains in southwest New Mexico, seventeen-year-old Martin McKinn and his eleven-year-old brother Santiago were herding cattle near their ranch on Gallina Creek, a tributary to the Mimbres River. The two McKinn boys were the sons of an Irish father John and their Mexican mother, Luceria. That morning their father had gone to Las Cruces with some neighbors to purchase supplies.
It was about eleven o’clock on September 11th and the boys were taking a break for lunch. Martin was sitting beneath a shade tree reading a book and Santiago had gone down to play in the creek. Suddenly, Santiago heard a rifle shot then he saw an Apache he later identified as Geronimo, run up and crush Martin’s head with a rock. Geronimo then removed his brother’s shirt and coat and put them on. Santiago tried to run away but they caught him.
Searchers found later Martin’s body but Santiago was missing, something that gave them hope that he might be a captive.