This review of the novel L.A. Outlaws has piqued my interest:
Legend has it that infamous bandit Joaquin Murrieta terrorized California until he was shot and beheaded in 1853. Afterward, some say, his head was pickled and put on display until it disappeared in the San Francisco earthquake.
The story of Murrieta captured the imagination of T. Jefferson Parker, who found himself wondering what would have happened if Murrieta had a descendant who was alive today and in possession of the outlaw's head. [Link]