Not since the misadventures of Joseph Forgett, a drug addict who carried a meat cleaver under his coat, had Sonoma County law enforcement encountered a man as dangerous and (probably) crazy as Edward/Eduardo Bosco.
The Santa Rosa newspapers first introduced us to Mr. Bosco, a middle-aged Italian immigrant, in late 1907, when he was in Sonoma county jail awaiting a sanity hearing. A few days earlier, it seemed, Bosco had an ugly confrontation with deputies at his little farm near Healdsburg. When he refused to open his door, the deputies smashed it in. Eduardo ran to the back of his house locking doors behind him, with the deputies and their battering ram in pursuit. He fled to his basement, where the deputies broke down the door and arrested him, although he was threatening them with an axe. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. An important detail downplayed in those news reports was that Bosco had recently lost his farm to foreclosure.
At his hearings, Bosco said he was defending himself because he didn’t understand at the time why those men were breaking into his house. He was released after two doctors declared him sane, and several character witnesses testified on his behalf. Bosco “claimed that his neighbors bothered him greatly, and intimated that it was desired to have him placed in an asylum so his property could be confiscated.” He sued those neighbors for damages for bringing the complaint against him.
If the story ended there, we might presume that Bosco was the victim of a scheme to steal away his property, and those neighbors were conspiring to boot him out because they held the mortgage or lien on his farm. But the story does not end there.
A few months later, Bosco was discovered back at the farm he no longer owned. He had picked clean the pear trees on the property and sold the crop to a cannery and when a Healdsburg police officer and posse showed up to arrest him, he opened fire with a shotgun. No one was injured, and the police retreated. We next heard of Eduardo Bosco when he was in the Napa county jail about two months later. Now the police were after him for “stopping and molesting” people on the road outside Calistoga. A local cop investigated, and Bosco allegedly pulled out a gun and pressed it against the officer’s chest, pulling the trigger three times. No bullets were fired.
At the end of 1908, courts of Napa and Sonoma counties were squabbling over whether Bosco would be tried for real shotgun blasts at deputies or an empty gun fired at the heart of a cop (UPDATE HERE).
(Note: Eduardo Bosco was apparently unmarried and childless, and no relation to former Congressman Doug Bosco, who was born in Brooklyn.)
An insane man, one Boscoe [sic], residing in the vicinity of Healdsburg, is in the county jail awaiting an official examination as to his sanity. He is violent and it became necessary to tightly strap him on his removal to Santa Rosa. His family circumstances are unknown.– Santa Rosa Republican, November 21, 1907
GIVE OFFICERS EXCITING TIME
Man Barricades Door and Bids Defiance When an Attempt is Made to Serve Eviction Papers
Armed with a writ from the Superior Court to put Orselo Silva in possession of some land near Healdsburg, Deputy Sheriffs Ben H. Barnes and Lencioni visited the place Thursday for the purpose of carrying out the order contained in the writ of assistance, and evicted Edward Bosco. They had a lively time.
Some time ago Bosco was believed to be mentally deranged and consequently the officers went about their work carefully, especially when they found that the man had shut himself up in his cabin and barricaded the door and that he probably had a double barreled Winchester in his possession.
When the officers went to the cabin they were denied admission and Bosco commenced shouting and raised a “rough house” generally. After temporarily pacifying him the writ was read to him, but he still refused to open the door. Finally a battering ram was secured and with Deputy Sheriff Barnes covered the man with his gun which he thrust through the window, Deputy Lencioni broke down the door. Bosco ran to the rear of the house and disappeared through a trap door down into the basement, which is also used as a small winery. The officers removed him from there with difficulty, having to batter down more doors. He was found to have an axe as a weapon of defense. He was taken into Healdsburg and lodged in jail. He will be brought to the county jail and a charge of assault with a deadly weapon will be preferred against him.– Press Democrat, December 13, 1907
EDWARD BOSCO FACES COURT
Preliminary Examination at Healdsburg Today
Edward Bosco, charged with having resisted an officer, was taken to Healdsburg Saturday morning for his preliminary examination before Justice Charles Raymond. Recently Deputy Sheriff Ben H. Barnes and Constable Henry Lencioni went to Dry Creek valley to arrest Bosco, he barricaded the doors and windows, and resisted arrested [sic] even at the point of a gun.
Attorney William F. Cowan went to represent Bosco at the examination, and the people were represented by Assistant District Attorney George W. Hoyle. Court Reporter Scott recorded the testimony. Bosco was recently before Judge Seawell on a charge of insanity, but was released after an examination by two physicians, who declared the man sane. He claimed that his neighbors bothered him greatly, and intimate that it was desired to have him placed in an asylum so his property could be confiscated.– Santa Rosa Republican, January 4, 1908
ROPED AND DRAGGED TO THE COUNTY JAIL
Sensational Allegations in a Complaint in a Ten Thousand Dollar Damage Suit Thursday
Charging that he was arrested for insanity, bound by ropes by deputy sheriffs, divested of hat, coat and vest, and taken unceremoniously to the county jail at Santa Rosa at the behest and complaint of Silva Nurrisa and Orsola Nurissa, Edwardo Bosca commenced an action in the Superior Court on Thursday against the aforenamed and asks the court to award him $10,250 for damage done his reputation and name and for the indignities he was forced to suffer as the result of his arrest.
The allegations are set forth in a complaint and the trial promises to present a number of sensational features. William F. Cowan is the attorney for the plaintiff. It will be remembered that Bosca [sic] was evicted from his ranch near Healdsburg some weeks ago.– Press Democrat, January 31, 1908
ALL EVIDENCE IN; ARGUMENTS TODAY
Trial of Edward Bosco Charged With Resisting Officers Commenced on Thursday
Charged with what the law classes as high misdemeanor, resisting an officer, Eduardo Bosco, who resides near Healdsburg, went to trial before Judge Denny and a jury in the Superior Court on Thursday morning.
Among the bits of evidence offered in support of the complaint that he resisted Deputy Sheriff Henry Lencioni when the latter went with Deputy Sheriff Ben H. Barnes to serve a writ upon him (Bosco) were a hatchet and knife and a whetstone. These articles were admitted in evidence…
…Bosco was called as a witness in his own behalf. Among other things he testified that he did not realize the mission of the officers at the time he resisted them. Several character witnesses were called and at five o’clock both sides rested their case.– Press Democrat, March 13, 1908
BOSCO SELLS THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT
Man Who Was Dispossessed of Premises Near Healdsburg is Said to Gave Established Himself There Again
From Healdsburg comes word that Edwardo Bosco, a rancher, who lived near there, and who was dispossessed of his place by process of court, is again in trouble, and that Constable Ed Haigh has a warrant for his arrest.
According to the report sent here, Bosco has again gone on the premises from which he was evicted and has entered the house, and installed himself there, and furthermore, has picked the pear crop on the place and sold it to the cannery.– Press Democrat, August 19, 1908
POSSE EXCHANGES SHOTS WITH RANCHER BOSCO
Constable Tries to Dislodge Man and Is Met With Shotgun Volley
Constable Ed Haight and posse had an encounter with Edwardo Bosco yesterday afternoon in the hills near [Healdsburg], but returned to town without their man. Bosco recently lost his little ranch on foreclosure proceedings, but maintained possession and so far all efforts to depose him have proved futile.
In an effort to get him off the place Constable Haight and posse went to the ranch yesterday, but after firing a shot to scare the old man they were met with a volley from his Winchester and all efforts to dislodge him were unavailing. Some seventeen shots were fired between the posse and Bosco, but none was effective as far as learned.– San Francisco Call, September 6, 1908
BOSCO NOW UNDER ARREST
Man Wanted Here is in Jail in Napa County
Eduardo Bosco, the eccentric individual who has given the officers of northern Sonoma county considerable trouble, has been arrested in Calistoga. He snapped his rifle three times at an officer there who attempted to arrest him Monday, and he will probably be charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to commit murder.
Bosco has disturbed the peace of residents of Calistoga and an officer went to arrest him. It was then that Bosco attempted to murder the officer, and had his weapon been loaded he would probably have succeeded. He was taken into custody and landed in the county jail in Napa. There he told Sheriff Dunlap he had been in jail here and that officer communicated with Undersheriff Walter C. Lindsay. The latter informed Dunlap that Bosco was also wanted in this country. Constable Ed Haigh of Healdsburg has a warrant for Bosco’s arrest for stealing fruit from a ranch which he formerly owned and from which he had been ejected. Recently when the constable attempted to arrest Bosco in Healdsburg the latter drew a weapon and the officer also drew a gun. No shooting ensued and Bosco went his way unmolested. He is charged with petit larceny, by the warrant held by Constable Haigh.
Bosco was examined for insanity here at one time and was permitted to have his liberty after the hearing. Later he went to the ranch which he had lost and took fruit from it and disposed of the fruit to a Healdsburg cannery. He will probably be tried at Napa, as the offense there is far more serious than the charge against him here.
The Napa Daily Journal has the following regarding the crime of Bosco and his arrest:
“Early that morning Constable D. E. Powers received word that a strange man, believed to be insane was stationed on a road leading into the up valley town, stopping and molesting all who passed by. Powers went out to investigate, and found Ed Bosco, an Italian, 55 years old, lying by the road side. When he attempted to take the queer acting stranger into custody, Bosco drew a big revolver and pressed it against the officers breast. Three times he pulled the trigger, but the shells refused to explode.
[“]After a hard struggle Powers succeeded in taking the weapon away from the man who would do murder. Bosco was brought here Monday afternoon and lodged in the county jail. He will be taken to Healdsburg, where he is wanted for taking a shot at an officer.”– Santa Rosa Republican, November 10, 1908
BOSCO LANDED IN THE COUNTY JAIL
Eduardo Bosco of Healdsburg who has given the officers considerable trouble in one way and another recently, was brought to the county jail last night from Napa, where he had been arrested for his peculiar actions towards strangers at Calistoga. When the officers went after him Bosco is said to have pulled his rifle on them and to have snapped the trigger several times before it could be taken from him.
There was a warrant out in this county for his arrest. Bosco was once examined for his sanity here, has been displaced from the farm where he resided, and resisted when officers went to take him off the second time. His appearance at Napa was a surprise here.– Press Democrat, November 11, 1908