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William Hale, the so-called "King of the Osage Hills," was a U.S. cattleman and convicted murderer.
A power player in the Osage Indian Reservation in northern Oklahoma, Hale rose to local prominence in the late 1800s through years of bribery, intimidation, and extortion. In 1921, he ordered the murders of his nephew's wife and mother-in-law, followed by her cousin, sister and brother-in-law two years later, to gain control of their oil rights. Over the next few months, he had killed at least two dozen others who had threatened to testify against him.
The Osage Tribal Council suspected Hale early on, but couldn't solicit any testimony from the townspeople, many of whom Hale had bribed or threatened into silence. The council turned to the FBI, who sent four undercover agents to the Reservation who, over the next few years, gained the townspeople's trust enough that they began speaking out against Hale. Hale's nephew whom he had coerced into helping with the scheme confessed, and charges were finally brought against Hale, as well as the contract killer he had hired to perform the murders and his corrupt attorney. In 1929, Hale was convicted of ordering the murders, and imprisoned.
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