Bonnie And Clyde
Where And When?: Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, Iowa and Louisiana. Between 1930 and 1934. (The real 'rampage' began in March of 1932)
Who? :There are no better known names in the annals of American criminal history than those of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Their names evoke a certain romantic air and their legend grows each time their story is told. The 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway helped cement the pair's legacy and portrayed them as devoted lovers who want to piss off the system while standing up for "Joe-average-guy". The truth is less glamorous than the fiction. Bonnie and Clyde were less than fun-loving and not overflowing with social-conscious. They were a ruthless pair of sociopaths who cared less about human life than the prized cache of weapons they travelled with.
Clyde Barrow was born in Telice, Texas on March 24, 1909. He was born into a farm family as one of eight children. Barrow received only a minor education and was committed to the Harris County School For Boys at the age of nine as a runaway, thief and truant. After he was released in his teen years, Clyde Barrow joined a petty theft ring called the Square Root Gang with friends Frankie Clause and Ray Hamilton, in Houston, Texas. In the late 1920s, the confirmed 'career criminal' began to rob grocery stores and gas stations along with his brother Ivan Marvin Barrow who was always known as Buck. The Barrow brothers amassed a certain 'reputation' in Texas at the time and were pursued by police. In 1928, police set up a dragnet to catch the pair in Denton, Texas. Buck was wounded in a shootout, captured and subsequently sent to prison in Eastham for a five-year term. The slippery Clyde eluded police and got away. In January of 1930, Clyde Barrow's life changed when he walked into a Dallas cafe where he met a waitress named Bonnie Parker.
Bonnie Parker was born in 1911, making her nineteen years old when petty criminal Clyde Barrow walked into her life. She barely stood five feet tall and weighed in at a slight 90 pounds. Bonnie had a history of clever (sarcasm) choices with men and was married to a man named Roy Thornton who was currently in prison serving a 99 year sentence for murder. Bonnie was not about to wait half a century for her man to return to her and regularly dated local men. This group now included Clyde Barrow. Soon, the couple started living together. Bonnie saw a life alongwside Clyde as exciting and a welcome change to the boredom she was used to. The two, along with some friends, went on to become well known, and soon, pretty much dead.
The Murders: The story of Bonnie and Clyde is a series of barely successful robberies, usually accompanied by unnecessary and ruthless violence. In fact, the penny ante outlaws never robbed anything but greasy spoons, gas stations and a handful of small time banks. They preyed upon poor folk like themselves and showed no feelings for those whom they victimized. They largest take for any of their forays barely crested the 1500 dollar mark.
Soon after Bonnie and Clyde began to live together, Clyde was arrested for a burglary he had committed inWaco, Texas. Barrow had left fingerprints behind at the scene. Bonnie watched as he was taken from their apartment and soon sentenced to a 2 year stay in prison. Soon after Clyde was put in prison in waco, his brother Buck escaped from his cell at Eastham Prison Farm. Clyde busied himself coming up with a plan to escape from waco. That plan came to fruition a few days later when Bonnie Parker walked into the Waco jail with a gun strapped to her thigh. She slipped the gun to Clyde (see, doesn't this make for a great movie??) and left. Clyde managed to use the gun to escape that night. He 'ran' and made it as far as Middleton, Ohio before police caught up with him. Clyde Barrow was re-sentenced to Eastham Prison. Eastham was known as a hellish place that helped to harden the already criminally-minded Barrow. It was in Eastham that Clyde Barrow killed his first man. He was an informant who told officials that Barrow had been gambling, against prison rules. After spending some time in solitary, Barrow used a lead pipe and smashed in Ed Crowder's head.
After he had been in prison, Clyde's mother, Cumie Barrow, launched a "please let my boy go free; he'll be a good man" kind of campaign with Texas Governor Ross Sterling. Inexplicably, Barrow was granted his release a month later, in February of 1932. It was at this time that he vowed that old bad guy adage of 'they'll never send me back there again. I'll die first." Turns out, he did.
It had been a while since Bonnie and Clyde had seen each other. They hooked up again in March of 1932 and the fun started right away.
That same March, Barrow and Parker stole a car and were quickly pursued by police. Clyde smashed into a tree and Bonnie was arrested in the aftermath. Clyde got away. Bonnie Parker spent three months in jail for her part in the incident. While she was incarcerated, the sentimental Clyde went on committing robberies in her absence. In Hillsboro Texas, Clyde killed a 65 year old man while stealing ten dollars from his jewellry store. This prompted the Governor to put a $250 bounty on Clyde. Barrow's violent ways continued, leading to the shooting of a Sheriff and Deputy in Atoka, Oklahoma. They had simply asked Barrow who he was and what he was doing at a local dance.
Bonnie and Clyde hooked up with old pal Ray Hamilton and fled to New Mexico to find relatives of Bonnie's. The trio's life on the road had begun. It is believed that Bonnie and Clyde were not a monogamous twosome while on the run. It seems that all three shared intimate times together. Clyde's homosexual tendancies have been well documented, also by gas station attendent W.D. Jones, who joined the group in Novemebr of 1932. Jones was apparently used as a sex toy by both Bonnie and Clyde.
Many incidents of violence followed during the group's adventures. Clyde killed a butcher in October of 1932 after the tradesman resisted Barrow's attempt to rob his market.
In early 1933, Blanche Barrow, Buck's wife approached Governor Miriam Ferguson with tales of woe about how she needed her husband to support her and her, soon to be, four children. The Governor granted a pardon and Buck was set free. Immediately, Blanche and Buck joined Clyde and Bonnie. The gang headed to Kansas City, Missouri where they robbed a loan office. They barely escaped a trap set for them by police near Joplin, Missouri when a shoot out lead to the deaths of two more law officers. It was around this time that Bonnie began prophesizing that the end was near. She wrote poems to that effect and sent letters to her mother discussing funeral arrangements. Many photos exist of this time period - Bonnie and Clyde loved posing for the camera.
The End: After the Joplin incident, police began to close in on the Barrow gang. Buck was killed by an ambush in Dexter, Iowa in July of 1933. Blanche was captured. Bonnie and Clyde managed to narrowly escape, Bonnie receiving some wounds in the fracas.
The pair eluded capture right into 1934 until a friend named Henry Methvin co-operated with police and set up a trap. Texas Ranger Frank Hamer and a posse set up a roadblock near Gibland Louisiana on May 23, 1934. They awaited the arrival of Parker and Barrow's car. In all, 187 shells were pumped into Bonnie and Clyde. They died with guns in their hands but never had a chnace to fire a shot. In all, Bonnie and Clyde killed at least a dozen people during their rampage. Most were law officers, but some were simple people trying to live simple lives.
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