The Gangster Era
The Gangster Era

Bonnie and Clyde

Notorius Crime Couple


Posted October 2023

FBI Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde
Outlaw Couple

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker committed a string of violent crimes - robberies, kidnappings, prison escapes, and murder, including killing law enforcement officers - across the Midwest from 1932 until they were shot to death by law enforcement in an ambush near Sailes, LA on May 23, 1934. Bonnie and Clyde apparently met at the home of Clarence Clay, a friend of Barrow's January 1930 in Dallas, TS, when Barrow was 21 and Parker was 19. The BOI got involved after the pair had stolen several cars, which they then would abandon in different states.

The last one was a 1934 Ford Deluxe, stolen from Ruth Warren of Toeka, KS. They preferred Fords since the larger engines had more speed and horsepower than the law enforcement officers' cars, and they could outrun them.

While the BOI technically only had jurisdiction on the charge of transporting a stolen automobile, dedicated agents used all the Bureau resources available to assist in the hunt, including providing wanted posters, fingerprints, photographs, descriptions, and criminal history to law enforcement agencies. BOI and other agencies tracked them to Louisiana, and a posse of police officers from Louisiana and Texas concealed themselves in bushes along the highway before dawn. When Barron and Parker tried to flee in the Ford, they were killed in a hail of gunfire.

Bonnie and Clyde Death Car
Ford Stolen by Bonnie and Clyde

This is the 1934 Ford Model, 730 Deluxe Sedan that Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were driving when they were killed. It was one of several Fords they had stolen. Investigators counted 167 bullet holes in the vehicle. For years, the "Death Car" toured the country for crowds to see.

Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

Bonnie and Clyde Death Car Door

Bonnie and Clyde Death Car Bullet Holes

Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

Bonnie and Clyde Death Car

Bonnie and Clyde

WIKIPEDIA Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (October 1, 1910 – May 23, 1934) and Clyde Chestnut (Champion) Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) were American criminals who traveled the Central United States with their gang during the Great Depression. The couple were known for their bank robberies, although they preferred to rob small stores or rural funeral homes. Their exploits captured the attention of the American press and its readership during what is occasionally referred to as the "public enemy era" between 1931 and 1934. They were ambushed by police and shot to death in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. They are believed to have murdered at least nine police officers and four civilians.

Bonnie Parker
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born in 1910 in Rowena, Texas, the second of three children. Her father, Charles Robert Parker (1884–1914), was a bricklayer who died when Bonnie was four years old. Her widowed mother, Emma (Krause) Parker (1885–1944), moved her family back to her parents' home in Cement City, an industrial suburb in West Dallas where she worked as a seamstress. As an adult, Bonnie wrote poems such as "The Story of Suicide Sal" and "The Trail's End", the latter more commonly known as "The Story of Bonnie and Clyde".

In her second year in high school, Parker met Roy Thornton (1908–1937). The couple dropped out of school and married on September 25, 1926, six days before her 16th birthday. Their marriage was marred by his frequent absences and brushes with the law and proved to be short lived. They never divorced, but their paths never crossed again after January 1929. Parker was still wearing the wedding ring Thornton had given her when she died. Thornton was in prison when he heard of her death, commenting, "I'm glad they jumped out like they did. It's much better than being caught." Sentenced to five years for robbery in 1933 and after attempting several prison breaks from other facilities, Thornton was killed while trying to escape from the Huntsville State Prison on October 3, 1937.

Bonnie Parker
Bonnie Parker
circa 1932-1933

Clyde Barrow
Clyde Barrow
circa 1932-1933

Clyde Barrow
Clyde Chestnut (Champion) Barrow was born in 1909 into a poor farming family in Ellis County, Texas, southeast of Dallas. He was the fifth of seven children of Henry Basil Barrow (1874–1957) and Cumie Talitha Walker (1874–1942). The family moved to Dallas in the early 1920s as part of a wider migration pattern from rural areas to the city, where many settled in the urban slum of West Dallas. The Barrows spent their first months in West Dallas living under their wagon until they got enough money to buy a tent.

Barrow was first arrested in late 1926, at age 17, after running when police confronted him over a rental car that he had failed to return on time. His second arrest was with his brother Buck soon after, for possession of stolen turkeys. Barrow had some legitimate jobs during 1927 through 1929, but he also cracked safes, robbed stores, and stole cars. He met 19-year-old Parker through a mutual friend in January 1930, and they spent much time together during the following weeks. Their romance was interrupted when Barrow was arrested by Dallas County Sheriffs Deputy Bert Whisnand and convicted of auto theft.

Barrow was sent to Eastham Prison Farm in April 1930 at the age of 21. He escaped from the prison farm shortly after his incarceration using a weapon Parker smuggled to him. He was recaptured shortly after and sent back to prison. Barrow was repeatedly sexually assaulted while in prison, and he retaliated by attacking and killing his tormentor with a pipe, crushing his skull. This was his first murder. Another inmate who was already serving a life sentence claimed responsibility.

In order to avoid hard labor in the fields, Barrow purposely had two of his toes amputated in late January 1932, either by another inmate or by himself and because of this he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. However, without his knowledge, Barrow's mother had already successfully petitioned for his release and he was set free six days after his intentional injury. He was paroled from Eastham on February 2, 1932, now a hardened and bitter criminal. His sister, Marie said, "Something awful sure must have happened to him in prison because he wasn't the same person when he got out." Fellow inmate Ralph Fults said that he watched Clyde "change from a schoolboy to a rattlesnake".

In his post-Eastham career, Barrow robbed grocery stores and gas stations at a rate far outpacing the ten or so bank robberies attributed to him and the Barrow Gang. His favorite weapon was the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR). According to John Neal Phillips, Barrow's goal in life was not to gain fame or fortune from robbing banks but to seek revenge against the Texas prison system for the abuses that he had sustained while serving time.

Famous Pictures Posing for the Camera

Bonnie Parker famous picture posing

Bonnie and Clyde famous picture posing

Ambush and Deaths
By May 1934, Barrow had 16 warrants outstanding against him for multiple counts of robbery, auto theft, theft, escape, assault, and murder in four states. Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, who had begun tracking the gang on February 12, led the posse. He had studied the gang's movements and found that they swung in a circle skirting the edges of five mid-western states, exploiting the "state line" rule that prevented officers from pursuing a fugitive into another jurisdiction. Barrow was consistent in his movements, so Hamer charted his path and predicted where he would go. The gang's itinerary centered on family visits, and they were due to see Methvin's family in Louisiana. Unbeknownst to Hamer, Barrow had designated Methvin's parents' residence as a rendezvous in case they were separated. Methvin had become separated from the rest of the gang in Shreveport. Hamer's posse was composed of six men: Texas officers Hamer, Hinton, Alcorn, and B.M. "Maney" Gault, and Louisiana officers Henderson Jordan and Prentiss Morel Oakley.

On May 21, the four posse members from Texas were in Shreveport when they learned that Barrow and Parker were planning to visit Ivy Methvin in Bienville Parish that evening. The full posse set up an ambush along Louisiana State Highway 154 south of Gibsland toward Sailes. Hinton recounted that the lawmen were in place by 9 pm, and waited through the whole of the next day (May 22) with no sign of the perpetrators.

At approximately 9:15 am on May 23, the posse was still concealed in the bushes and almost ready to give up when they heard a vehicle approaching at high speed. In their official report, they stated they had persuaded Methvin to position his truck on the shoulder of the road that morning. They hoped Barrow would stop to speak with him, putting his vehicle close to the posse's position in the bushes. The vehicle proved to be the Ford V8 with Barrow at the wheel and he slowed down as hoped. The six lawmen opened fire while the vehicle was still moving. Oakley fired first, probably before any order to do so. Barrow was shot in the head and died instantly from Oakley's first shot and Hinton reported hearing Parker scream. The officers fired about 130 rounds, emptying each of their weapons into the car. The two had survived several bullet wounds over the years in their confrontations with the law. On this day any one of several of Bonnie and Clyde's wounds could have been the cause of death.

According to statements made by Hinton and Alcorn:

Officer StatementsEach of us six officers had a shotgun and an automatic rifle and pistols. We opened fire with the automatic rifles. They were emptied before the car got even with us. Then we used shotguns. There was smoke coming from the car, and it looked like it was on fire. After shooting the shotguns, we emptied the pistols at the car, which had passed us and ran into a ditch about 50 yards on down the road. It almost turned over. We kept shooting at the car even after it stopped. We weren't taking any chances.

Bonnie and Clyde killed twelve people, including nine law enforcement officers during their two years of criminal activity from February 1932 to May 1934.

  • John Napoleon "JN" Bucher of Hillsboro, Texas: murdered April 30, 1932 in Hillsboro, TX
  • Deputy Eugene Capell Moore of Atoka, Oklahoma: murdered August 5, 1932 in Stringtown, OK
  • Howard Hall of Sherman, Texas: murdered October 11, 1932 in Sherman, TX
  • Doyle Allie Myers Johnson of Temple, Texas: murdered December 26, 1932 in Temple, TX
  • Deputy Malcolm Simmons Davis of Dallas, Texas: murdered January 6, 1933 in Dallas, TX
  • Detective Harry Leonard McGinnis of Joplin, Missouri: murdered April 13, 1933 in Joplin, MO
  • Constable John Wesley "Wes" Harryman of Joplin, Missouri: murdered April 13, 1933 in Joplin, MO
  • Town Marshal Henry Dallas Humphrey of Alma, Arkansas: murdered June 26, 1933 in Alma, AR
  • Prison Guard Major Joseph Crowson of Huntsville, Texas: murdered January 16, 1934 in Houston County, TX
  • Patrolman Edward Bryan "Ed" Wheeler of Grapevine, Texas: murdered April 1, 1934 near Grapevine, TX
  • Patrolman Holloway Daniel "H.D." Murphy of Grapevine, Texas: murdered April 1, 1934 near Grapevine, TX
  • Constable William Calvin "Cal" Campbell of Commerce, Oklahoma: murdered April 6, 1934 near Commerce, OK

Other Wikipedia Citings