Scalia’s last moments on a Texas ranch, quail hunting to being found in ‘perfect repose’ – Los Angeles Times

When Texas millionaire John Poindexter invited Justice Antonin Scalia to his remote ranch near the Mexican border, it was for a private party with about 35 other guests, a weekend of hunting and sightseeing on his painstakingly restored and cultivated 30,000-acre spread.

But when Scalia, 79, failed to appear for a morning excursion at 8 a.m. Saturday, Poindexter became concerned and went to his room, which has its own outdoor fire pit and a wall of windows overlooking the 22-room adobe ranch hotel, a lake and surrounding peaks of the Chinati Mountains.

“I had not seen him, and everyone else was up. I knocked loudly,” Poindexter said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. But Scalia was in a large room, the “El Presidente” suite, and the owner figured that perhaps the justice couldn’t hear him.

Poindexter had just met Scalia, and although he found him “congenial” and they got on well at dinner the night before, his first thought was: “He’s a Supreme Court justice, and if he doesn’t want to be bothered.”

Eventually, Poindexter entered the silent room, apprehensive.

“I was worried I was going to find something very tragic,” he said.

There he spotted Scalia, still in his pajamas.

“He was in perfect repose in his bed as if he was taking a nap. His face wasn’t contorted or anything,” Poindexter said. “I went over and felt his hand and it was very cold, no pulse. You could see he was not alive.”

It was Scalia’s first visit to the storied ranch, and his death is already becoming part of the lore at Cibolo Creek, a site steeped in Southwest history and frequented by what Poindexter’s consultant George Van Etten called “a lot of Hollywood people and captains of industry.”


The ranch, established in 1857, sits in the middle of remote desert, 15 miles north of the border and 150 miles southeast of El Paso, the last several miles on a dirt road.

On-site bird hunts include pheasant, chukar, white-tailed dove and blue quail. The area is home to more than 500 species of birds, as well as 18 species of bats.

“Tread lightly and you’re likely to see more than a few species of wildlife, including the American buffalo, Carmen mountains white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, aoudad, coyotes, black bears, javelinas, mountain lions and bobcats/ringtail cats, along with domestic livestock grazing in our pastures,” the ranch web site says. Cibolo is a Native American word for buffalo.

Several iconic films were shot here: “No Country for Old Men,” “There Will Be Blood” and, 60 years ago in nearby Marfa, the Texas epic “Giant.” Guests have included Mick Jagger, Julia Roberts and Tommy Lee Jones.

Poindexter recalled how, after Scalia — a Trenton, N.J., native who spent his career on the East Coast — arrived at about noon on Friday, he joined the other guests on a successful quail hunt.

“He did not hunt. He was out on the property, looking at it,” Poindexter said. “It’s a reasonably attractive place. He seemed to enjoy himself. He got off the truck once and seemed to enjoy himself.”

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