Andrew Pixley (January 29, 1943 - December
10, 1965) was a convicted murderer from Dallas, Oregon. He was
executed December 10, 1965 in Wyoming for the murder of two young
girls in August 1964.
Born Andrew Armandoz Benavidez in Las Cruces, NM,
Pixley joined the U.S. Army after being charged with passing bad
checks. His father Columbus Pixley said he had dropped out of high
school and had never held a job. He served two years, mostly overseas.
He was described as "slightly built" and "nervous" and as a transient
and dishwasher. There was a previous warrant out for his arrest in his
home town on a charge of larceny. He was accused and cleared of being
in possession of a stolen car in Davenport, Washington, two weeks
before the murders. He had been living in a trailer with two employees
of the hotel where the murders took place, David Starling and Orval
Edwards. Starling was described as having had prior knowledge of
Pixley's violent tendencies.
On the night of August 5/6, 1964 Pixley broke into
a room of the Wort Motor Hotel in Jackson, Wyoming, occupied by the
family of Illinois Circuit Court Judge Robert McAuliffe, who were
holidaying. McAuliffe and his wife were elsewhere in the hotel taking
in a show. When they returned to their room, they found Pixley lying
on the floor. He appeared to be drunk, but may have been feigning;
McAuliffe said at the trial he had not smelled alcohol. McAuliffe
grabbed Pixley and pinned him to the floor. Police officer James
Jensen heard Mrs. McAuliffe screaming and rushed to the scene, where
McAuliffe shouted "My God, this man has killed my babies."
Their older daughters, Debbie, 12, and Cindy, 8 lay
dead in their beds. The girls had been sexually assaulted, Debbie had
been bludgeoned with a rock, and Cindy beaten and strangled.
The youngest child, six-year-old Susan, was
unharmed. Initially described as asleep during the crime, she may
actually have witnessed the assault on her sisters.
Pixley had apparently climbed a stack of wood and
scaled the rear wall of the hotel, removing a screen to get in at the
As Pixley was taken by police from the hotel, a
crowd outside called for him to be lynched. He was taken to a jail in
another town and then to the Wyoming State Penitentiary for better
The McAuliffe sisters were buried together in a
single casket. Their parents later filed suit against the hotel in
order to pay for the surviving child's psychiatric treatment.
Initially, Pixley only told police "I didn't do it."
Hotel employee Richard Souther testified that Pixley cited his Native
American heritage in explaining why he "couldn't" have done such a
thing. Later, Pixley asked to make a statement, and was examined using
sodium pentothal interviews. He said he remembered drinking earlier in
the evening, but could not remember entering the hotel or killing the
girls. His court-appointed attorney, Robert Hufsmith, added that
Pixley remembered being in the company of another person earlier that
evening, but that his mind was "blank since he left that person."
Pixley was examined by Dr. William Karn, Jr. of the
Wyoming State Hospital, who pronounced him sane, but an "incurable
sociopath" at the trial, adding that "it meant a lot more to Pixley to
kill the girls while they were awake." At this, Judge McAuliffe got up
from his seat and attempted to assault Pixley before being restrained.
Pixley was tried and sentenced to death, laughing
when the execution date was announced. Although an appeal was filed to
change his sentence to life imprisonment, he said he did not want an
appeal. He was executed in the Wyoming gas chamber on December 10,
1965. He also took the longest time to die than any other executed
person in the Wyoming gas chamber.
According to genealogical research, Robert and
Betty McAuliffe divorced sometime after the murders. McAuliffe
remarried and had a son. He died April 1, 1998 of a heart attack.
Betty McAuliffe died November 28, 2010. Susan McAuliffe married and
had five children.