Welcome to the first installment of true crime specials that will be featured on my blog. While sports are a passion of mine so is true crime. I thought these specials would be a good way to shake things up a bit, I do hope you enjoy.
If you look up “Ride or Die” in the dictionary you would find Bonnie Parker’s name. She was literally a ride or die chick for her lover Clyde Barrow. As much as I love my husband there are a few things that would make me sit back and think hmmm…. maybe I need to leave this situation. Oh, just off the top of my head…. bank robberies and murder are two of them. Although, they do say love is blind and can make you do crazy things and Bonnie Parker was one crazy bitch.
Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas. When her father Charles died (when Bonnie was four years old) her mother Emma moved the family back to her hometown of Cement City located in West Dallas. In 1926 Bonnie met Roy Thorton, she dropped out of high school and the couple were married on September 25, 1926, six days before Bonnie’s sixteenth birthday. The marriage was marred by Thorton’s frequent absences and brushes with the law. Needless to say, the married was shorted lived. The couple never divorced but their paths never crossed again. In fact, Bonnie was still wearing her wedding band at the time of her death. Wonder how my boy Clyde felt about that.
Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born on March 24, 1909 to a poor family in Ellis County, Texas which was just southeast of Dallas. In early 1920 the family moved to West Dallas as part of a rural area migration pattern. In 1926 at the age of seventeen Clyde was arrested along with his brother Buck Barrow for possession of stolen turkeys. That is a very serious offense, they should have gotten life for that one! Between 1927 and 1929 Barrow made a living by stealing cars, cracking safes, and robbing stores.
On January 5, 1930 twenty-year-old Barrow and nineteen-year-old Parker crossed paths for the first time at mutual friend Clarence Clay’s house. There are many different accounts of the couple’s first meeting but this encounter has been deemed the most credible. Both were smitten immediately and after this initial meeting Clyde dropped by the home of one of Bonnie’s friends where she was staying to help her heal from a broken arm. The couple ran off together and the rest is history. So, did her friends arm heal or did she just leave her to fend for herself?
In April of 1920 the couple was briefly separated when Barrow was sent to Eastham prison farm. He was repeatedly sexually assaulted while incarcerated and after having enough he killed his attacker by crushing his skull in with a lead pipe, this has been credited as Barrow’s first murder. In late January of 1932 Barrow intentionally had two of his toes cut off in order to avoid hard labor in the fields. I mean, I am pretty lazy but I also really like my toes, safe to say this dude wasn’t wrapped too tight. Obviously because he only had eight freakin’ toes he walked with a noticeable limp for the rest of his short life. I wonder which ones he chopped off, like how do you decide which toes are more important than the rest? Barrow’s mother successfully petitioned for her son’s release and on February 2, 1932 he got paroled. After his release his sister Marie would go on to say; “Something awful sure must have happened to him in prison because he wasn’t the same person when he got out.” Well yeah, being repeatedly raped in the ass would be enough to change any person.
After his release from prison Barrow and fellow inmate Ralph Fults began a series of convenience store and gas station robberies. On April 19, 1932 Parker and Fults were arrested in a failed robbery where they attempted to steal fire arms, Parker was released from custody within a few months. On April 30th of that same year Barrow was the getaway driver in a robbery where store owner J.N Bucher was shot and killed. On August 5, 1932 Barrow and two friends were drinking moonshine in a parking lot of an Oklahoma country dance when they were approached by Sheriff C.G. Maxwell and Deputy Eugene C. Moore. The men opened fire killing Deputy Moore and gravely injuring Sheriff Maxwell. Moore was the first lawman murdered by the gang.
On Christmas Eve 1932 sixteen-year-old W.D Jones joined the gang, the next day Jones and Barrow killed Doyle Johnson during a carjacking. Barrow, Parker, and Jones shot and killed Deputy Malcolm Davis on January 6, 1933 after the three stumbled upon a police trap set for another group of criminals. On March 22, 1933 after Buck Barrow was paroled from prison, he and wife Blanche took up residence with the Barrow gang. The group ran loud, alcohol-fueled card games late into the night in the quiet neighborhood; and while no neighbors ever visited the apartment they did report suspicious activity to the Joplin Police Department.
On April 13, 1933 five police officers pulled up to the residence. The two Barrow men and Jones opened fire, killing Detective Harry L. McGinnis and fatally wounding Constable J. W. Harryman. Bonnie Parker opened fire with a Browning automatic rifle forcing Sergeant G.B. Kahler to duck behind a large oak tree. The .30 caliber bullets from the BAR struck the tree and caused wood splinters to pierce Sergeant Kahler’s face. During this time the gang was able to jump into a car and speed off. While managing to escape the group left many of their personal belongings at the apartment which included; Buck’s three-week-old parole papers, a large arsenal of weapons, a handwritten poem by Bonnie, and a camera with several rolls of undeveloped film. Authorities developed the film at the Joplin Globe newspaper and the now infamous photos of the gun toting Bonnie & Clyde were released to the public and people lost their absolute shit over them (in a good way). This was one of the first times people had seen a woman holding a pistol with a cigar clenched in her teeth, sporting an ” I don’t give a f***” attitude. Remember during that time women stayed at home tending house and raising the kids, they were not viewed as strong willed figures of the time and held very little value in society.
On June 10, 1933 the car carrying the gang flipped into a ravine causing acid from the car battery to chemically burn Bonnie’s right leg. She had been burned so badly the gang thought she wasn’t going to survive; she was left with a limp and sever scaring on her leg but Parker did manage pull through after the group hid out in Arkansas and nursed the injury. If she only knew the way she was going to meet her end she might have wished she died from the third-degree burns. After Buck Barrow and W.D Jones murdered Town Marshal Henry D. Humphrey in Alma, Arkansas during a botched robbery the gang had to flee the state regardless of Parker’s condition.
Once in Palette City, Missouri Buck and W.D went into town to obtain food and medical supplies. The store clerk recognized the two men and contacted Sheriff Holt Coffey who had already been alerted by Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas law enforcement to watch for strangers seeking such supplies. The Sheriff and his men managed to locate the cabin the gang had been staying in and when confronted by the lawmen a shoot-out was initiated by the surprised gang members. The Barrow gang managed to escape by the skin of their teeth when a signal was mistaken by a lawman as a cease fire. Although they were able to evade the law once again Buck Barrow had sustained a gunshot wound to his forehead that ended up exposing part of his brain. That is pretty gnarly.
The Barrow gang found an abandoned amusement park in Iowa where W.D Jones and Clyde Barrow dug a grave for Buck after he lost an incredible amount of blood. After some passerby’s noticed the groups bloody bandages, they alerted local authorities who determined they were the Barrow gang. Officials along with one hundred townspeople surrounded the campsite and opened fire (not all one hundred people did), Jones, Barrow, and Parker managed to flee on foot. But Buck and his wife Blanche were captured after Buck was shot in the back, he died five days later at Kings Daughters Hospital in Perry, Iowa.
For the next six weeks the remaining gang members traveled to Colorado and Mississippi committing a number of armed robberies along the way. In early September the members risked a trip to Dallas to visit their families for the first time in four months. W.D Jones parted ways with the two and went on to Houston to see his mother. Jones was later arrested without incident on November 15, 1933 and sent back to Dallas. While both families looked after Parker and her various medical needs Barrow went on a slew of robberies with local petty criminals. On November 22nd of that year the couple narrowly escaped arrest after they were approached by Dallas Sheriff Smoot Schmid, Deputy Bob Alcorn, and Deputy Ted Hinton while attempting to meet up with family members.
To keep a long mother f****** story short in the next few months Barrow attempted to break out some of his fellow inmates which enraged local authorities. Tensions grew worse after the couple shot and killed sixty-year-old Constable William “Cal” Campbell in Oklahoma (they had also murdered others while on the run). The public who initially enjoyed the gang’s antics had turned against them after witnessing their repeated brutality. After W.D Jones flipped on the couple giving a full confession of their past digressions a warrant was issued for their arrests and former Taxes Ranger Frank Hamer was hired to bring the two to justice.
On May 21, 1934 Hamer along with his posse set up an ambush to take down Bonnie and Clyde after tracking the couple’s movements for months. The group was in place by 9:00pm that night and staked out all of the next day, but the fugitives never turned up. At approximately 9:15 on the morning of May 23, 1934 the posse was still hidden behind a group of bushes when the Ford V8 carrying Barrow and Parker began to come into view. According to the lawmen they had persuaded an acquaintance of Clyde Barrow, Ivy Methvin to park his truck along the shoulder of the road hoping the couple would stop to chat with him, which would put Barrow’s vehicle near the group of authorities. When the couple fell for the trap Hamer and his posse opened fire.
It is said that officer Morel Oakley fired first shot without being given any order to do so, his bullet struck Clyde Barrow in the head killing him instantly and the lawmen state that they could hear Parker scream in terror. The officers fired a total of 130 rounds into the V8, many of which would have been fatal. Upon being killed Barrow’s foot slipped off the brake pedal and the car began to roll downhill. The officers stated that they continued to fire until the vehicle came to a stop not wanting to take any chances.
After the horrendous over kill of the couple a deputy began filming the crime scene and documented that a total of 112 bullets had hit the car, about a quarter of which actually struck the two occupants. Corner J.L Wade would go on to report that Bonnie Parker suffered a total of twenty-six gunshot wounds and Clyde Barrow suffered a total of seventeen. Jesus, the two were basically turned into swiss cheese, good lord. Undertaker C.F Bailey said the injuries made it very difficult to embalm the bodies. During an interview Frank Hamer would tell the press; “I hate to bust the cap on a woman, especially when she was sitting down, however if it wouldn’t have been her, it would have been us.”
Word of the killing quickly spread and a “circus like atmosphere” occurred as a crowd formed in the town. As the car was being towed to the funeral home the two officers left to guard the bodies Gault and Alcorn lost control of the jostling, curious townspeople; and one woman cut off bloody locks of Parker’s hair and pieces from her dress, which were subsequently sold as souvenirs. Officer Hinton returned to find a man trying to cut off Barrow’s trigger finger, and was sickened by what was occurring. Nearly everyone had begun collecting souvenirs such as shell casings, slivers of glass from the shattered car windows, and bloody pieces of clothing from the garments of Bonnie and Clyde. One eager man had opened his pocket knife, and was reaching into the car to cut off Clyde’s left ear.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow wished to be buried side by side but the Parker family would not allow it. I dare somebody to tell me I can’t be buried next to the love of my life; I’m coming back as a ghost and haunting their ass. BOO BITCH! Parker’s funeral was held on May 26, 1934 and her own family had difficulty reaching her grave site due to the more than 20,000 people in attendance. Flowers came in from everywhere some of which were allegedly even sent from big time gangsters, Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger (Mister public enemy number one himself). Barrow had a private funeral held on May 25, 1934 he was buried alongside his brother Marvin in Western Heights cemetery, the two share a single headstone.
There you have it folks, the story of the original ride or dies and my favorite outlaw couple, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
“The Trail’s End” By: Bonnie Parker
“You’ve read the story of Jesse James of how he lived and died. If you’re still in need; of something to read, here’s the story of Bonnie and Clyde. Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang I’m sure you all have read. how they rob and steal; and those who squeal, are usually found dying or dead. There’s lots of untruths to these write-ups; they’re not as ruthless as that. their nature is raw; they hate all the law, the stool pigeons, spotters and rats. They call them cold-blooded killers they say they are heartless and mean. But I say this with pride that I once knew Clyde, when he was honest and upright and clean. But the law fooled around; kept taking him down, and locking him up in a cell. Till he said to me; “I’ll never be free, so I’ll meet a few of them in hell” The road was so dimly lighted there were no highway signs to guide. But they made up their minds; if all roads were blind, they wouldn’t give up till they died. The road gets dimmer and dimmer sometimes you can hardly see. But it’s fight man to man and do all you can, for they know they can never be free. From heart-break some people have suffered from weariness some people have died. But take it all in all; our troubles are small, till we get like Bonnie and Clyde. If a policeman is killed in Dallas and they have no clue or guide. If they can’t find a fiend, they just wipe their slate clean and hang it on Bonnie and Clyde. There’s two crimes committed in America not accredited to the Barrow mob. They had no hand; in the kidnap demand, nor the Kansas City Depot job. A newsboy once said to his buddy; “I wish old Clyde would get jumped. In these awfull hard times; we’d make a few dimes, if five or six cops would get bumped”
The police haven’t got the report yet but Clyde called me up today. He said,”Don’t start any fights; we aren’t working nights, we’re joining the NRA.” From Irving to West Dallas viaduct is known as the Great Divide. Where the women are kin; and the men are men, and they won’t “stool” on Bonnie and Clyde. If they try to act like citizens and rent them a nice little flat. About the third night; they’re invited to fight, by a sub-gun’s rat-tat-tat. They don’t think they’re too smart or desperate they know that the law always wins. They’ve been shot at before; but they do not ignore, that death is the wages of sin. Some day they’ll go down together they’ll bury them side by side. To few it’ll be grief, to the law a relief but it’s death for Bonnie and Clyde.”
“Bonnie and Clyde” – FBI
“The Frightening Power of Bonnie and Clyde” – The New Yorker
“Bonnie & Clyde: 9 Facts” – Biography