Stolen Museum Gun Shows Up On TV

Posted | By:  

So you're the curator of a museum and you have a near priceless antique Colt vanish. The police have no leads. No signs of it on Craigslist, Gunbroker, or the local pawnshops. Then late one night almost a year later, while watching TV, in walks your missing gun.

The case of the missing Dragoon

Jim Gordon's Casa Escuela Museum in Glorieta, New Mexico is a small privately run collection of vintage firearms. Like many small museums, the Escuela does not have regular business hours to eliminate overhead and is by appointment only for interested historians and collectors. One Wylie Gene Newton, a 65-year old collector scheduled a private viewing of the museum. After a second visit, in March 2011, a very rare and beautiful 1849 .44-caliber Colt Dragoon revolver came up missing. Detectives soon paid ole Wylie a visit but came up without the Dragoon. The gun had pulled an Amelia Earhart.

What is a Colt Dragoon?

Stolen Museum Gun Shows Up On TV - christophereger - colt1stdragoon-44cal-726.jpg

Taking lessons learned in the 1845 Mexican War from users of his Walker series revolver, firearms inventor Samuel Colt produced a modified .44 percussion revolver in 1848. These huge hog legs were used to arm the US Army's new Mounted Rifles regiment (known as Dragoons) and the revolver became forever known by the designation. The six-shooter was 68 ounces (over four pounds) and almost 15-inches long with a 7.5-inch barrel. The Dragoon cemented Samuel Colt into modern history and set the stage for the later Colt 1851 Navy as well as cartridge designs such as the Peacemaker.†

Stolen Museum Gun Shows Up On TV - christophereger - truegritmattierosscoltdragoon-728.jpg
The Dragoon has been a favorite piece of hardware in hundreds of movies. It was the Desert Eagle .50 of its day. (IMFDB photo)

Only 18,500 were manufactured and many were destroyed. Later in the 19th century, those still around were often broken up for parts or converted to fire cartridges. Itís thought that fewer than 200 of these historically important hand cannons survive in original, functioning condition. The missing New Mexico Dragoon was valued at over $40,000.

The Recovery

A year after the Dragoon came up missing; Escuela museum Curator Jeff Hengesbaugh was watching the program American Guns on the Discovery Channel. A reality-TV show set in a Colorado gun shop, the program has a large and growing fan base. On that night's episode, in walks ole Wylie with (you guessed it) the long lost Colt Dragoon for sale.

What an amazing coincidence.

After urgent phone calls to police in both New Mexico and Colorado, an undercover sting buy, an arrest, and an extradition, Wylie now sits awaiting trial.

Stolen Museum Gun Shows Up On TV - christophereger - wylie-gene-newton-727.jpg
"Do you think I am stupid enough that I would take a gun I stole on TV?" asked Wiley G Newton....(KDVR photo)

The Dragoon is safe inside the evidence locker and the Escuela looks forward to getting him back.

So remember gang, when visiting a museum, look but don't touch and never ever take stolen firearms on national TV, no matter how cool the show is.

Posted in
  Email   Print
August 24, 2012  •  06:30 PM
I remember watching the same episode,but didnt the experts that Rich called to authentic the firearm told them it wasnt a real 1848 Dragoon?

Or they knew it was the stolen revolver & just played it off?

Either way,good to see it was found & will be making its way back to the rightful owner/s ASAP!!
August 26, 2012  •  12:36 PM
BUSTED!! Gotta luv it when it all comes around :D
August 27, 2012  •  11:44 AM
Glad they got it back.. Now I have to go watch that episode on demand.. LOL Anyone know what episode number that was?
September 6, 2012  •  03:39 PM
It's not mine but I do have it for sell.
September 8, 2012  •  04:00 PM
I remember his reaction when he was told it wasn't the real deal. He was sure that it was. He should have said, "Whattya mean its not real, I stole it from a museum!".
September 8, 2012  •  04:53 PM
shows ya how smart the people on the show are huh?
September 8, 2012  •  07:26 PM
Good article! I do wonder if the people on the show got it wrong, or if that episode was edited or something.
September 8, 2012  •  07:55 PM

As I remember he took a Walker & the dragoon.

The Walker was a fake (Italian Reproduction).
And the "Dragoon" was the authentic one.

I thought he was suspect for wanting to trick them into paying near $100,000 for a fake. And playing dumb about not knowing it was not real.
September 8, 2012  •  08:02 PM
It was the walker that was the fake. Here is the link to the YouTube video.
September 8, 2012  •  08:25 PM
This Wylie Gene Newton asks, "Do you think I am stupid enough that I would take a gun I stole on TV?" Uh... isn't that exactly what he DID?
September 8, 2012  •  08:28 PM
@myc1972, did I miss something here? I didn't see the TV show, but as far as I can tell from the article above, no Walker pistol was involved. The article says: "Taking lessons learned in the 1845 Mexican War from users of his Walker series revolver, firearms inventor Samuel Colt produced a modified .44 percussion revolver in 1848." That's the only time I can find a Walker being mentioned.