Although Wyatt Earp was one of the most famous lawmen of the Old West, he did have a checkered past. Long before the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Earp was not only sued for embezzlement, he was arrested as a horse thief.
On March 28, 1871, Wyatt Earp, John Shown, and Edward Kennedy were arrested for each stealing two horses from William Keys. Earp was arraigned on April 14 and bail was set at $500. On June 5, John Kennedy was inexplicably acquitted, even though John Shown’s wife testified that Earp and Kennedy forced her husband into committing the crime, threatening to kill him if he didn’t. Earp saw the writing on the wall and decided not to wait for the trial - he climbed out through the roof of the jailhouse and fled to Peoria, Illinois.
Wyatt’s troubles with the law didn't end there. While in Peoria, in February 1872, the brothel in which he was living was raided and Earp was arrested. He was brought in two more times that year for the same crime. The charge was always “keeping and being found in a house of ill-fame,” though there were also rumors he was a pimp.
Earp then moved to Wichita, Kansas. Although he joined the Marshal’s office, he was never far away from the brothel racket. He met Mattie Blaylock, a prostitue who became his common-law wife, and later opened a brothel with his brother, James, in Dodge City.