Virgil Earp was ambushed on the streets of Tombstone on the evening of December 28, 1881, by hidden assailants shooting from the second story of an unfinished building. Clanton was later accused, along with his brother Phin Clanton and friend Pony Diehl, of attempting to kill Virgil Earp. Though Ike's hat was found at the scene where the ambushers waited, a number of associates stood up for him, saying that he had been in Contention that night, and the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
After the attempted murder of Virgil, Wyatt requested and was made Deputy U.S. Marshal by U.S. Marshall Crawley Dake on December 29, 1881. In late January, unable to obtain funds from his superiors, Dake went to San Francisco where he persuaded the Wells, Fargo & Co. to loan him $3000, assuring them that the Department of Justice would honor the loan. He apparently neglected to inform his superiors of his arrangement and was later investigated for financial improprieties. Some reports say he borrowed only $500.
On January 20, 1882, Dake deposited $2,985 into an account in Wyatt's name at Hudson & Company in Tombstone, and authorized Wyatt to employ a posse to track down the Cowboys. On January 30, Wyatt obtained warrants from Judge Stilwell for the arrest of Ike and Phin Clanton, and another Cowboy named Pony Diehl, for the attempted murder of Virgil. He gathered a posse which turned Charleston inside out looking for the Cowboys without success. Wyatt returned to Tombstone to find the men had already surrendered, though they thought it was for lesser charges. On February 2, Virgil and Wyatt resigned from their positions as Deputy U.S. Marshals in a letter published in The Daily Epitaph, though Dake refused Wyatt's resignation. Ike, Phin and Pony Diehl were released for lack of evidence shortly afterward.
On February 9, Ike Clanton filed new murder charges against the Earps, again in Contention City. Behan single-handedly escorted Wyatt and Morgan there, but a phalanx of 12 heavily armed friends watched over them en route. The judge refused to indict the Earps unless the Clantons could supply new evidence.
On March 18, Morgan was killed while playing billiards. During the coroner’s inquest on Morgan's murder, Pete Spence's wife Marietta Duarte testified that her husband, Frank Stilwell, Frederick Bode, Florentino "Indian Charlie" Cruz, and an unnamed half-breed Indian had turned up at her home an hour after the shooting, and that Spence threatened violence if she told what she knew. The five men were named as suspects in Morgan Earp's assassination and the coroner's jury issued warrants for their arrest. Spence turned himself in so that he would be protected in Behan's jail, but his attorney successfully blocked his wife's testimony. Lacking evidence, the prosecution withdrew its charges.
On Sunday, March 19, the day after Morgan's murder, Wyatt, his brother James, and a group of friends took Morgan's body to the rail head in Benson. They put Morgan's body on the train with James, who accompanied it to the family home in Colton, California. There, Morgan's wife and parents waited to bury him. The next day, the still-convalescing Virgil Earp and his wife also left by rail for the safety of California. Wyatt Earp felt he could not rely on civil justice and decided to take matters into his own hands. He concluded that only way to deal with Morgan's murderers was to kill them.
Over the next several weeks Wyatt and his posse tracked down and killed four of the men they believed were responsible for their brothers' ambush and murder. The Tucson sheriff issued arrest warrants for their killing of Frank Stilwell. The ride for vengeance came to be called the Earp vendetta ride. Wyatt and Doc left the Arizona Territory for Colorado in April, 1882 and parted company after a minor disagreement. Although they may have remained in contact, they never saw each other again. Holliday said in 1882 that he thought Behan was behind the assassination of Morgan Earp. Holliday died of tuberculosis on November 8, 1887, but Wyatt Earp did not learn of Holliday's death until several months later.
Other articles related to "earp vendetta, earp, earps":
... Flood, in his unpublished 1926 manuscript Wyatt Earp biography (for which many details came from Wyatt himself) said that Johnson was an old friend of the Earps when they came to Tombstone, and this fits with ... As a member of the Earp party which protected Virgil on the train, Johnson (as "John Johnson") was co-indicted in absentia with Doc Holliday, Wyatt ... next day (now joined by Texas Jack Vermillion) rode out in the Earp vendetta ride of 1882, by which time he was a wanted man in the territory for the killing of Stilwell ...