It’s been many years since Bonnie and Clyde’s death, but the events that led to their unfortunate ends still send chills down the spines of many. Although their story has managed to be romanticized and is often told in a context that is far away from the menace they truly were, their tale remains more of a lesson in the class of crime than it is about what true love is. In the 1930s, the duo formed a notorious robbery gang that did not only break into banks but also killed many people while their reign of terror lasted. While their histories have become intertwined and virtually inseparable, these two lived very different lives growing up and did not know each other until much later as adults.
Bonnie Parker was born on October 1, 1910, in Rowena, Texas where she lived until the death of her father in 1914 when her mother moved the family to her parents’ house in Cement City, West Dallas. She dropped out of high school to marry her then-boyfriend Roy Thornton just before she turned 16. Their marriage did not last long and soon, Bonnie found herself alone again even though she was not officially divorced from her husband who has had a lot of troubles with the law and was in and out of prison. At age 19, Bonnie Met Clyde Barrow while she was staying over at a friend’s place and they connected instantly and started seeing each other.
Clyde Barrow who was just a year older than Bonnie was born into a family of nine on March 24, 1909. His family would later move to the urban slum of West Dallas where they struggled to survive. From as early as age 17. Clyde started having run-ins with the law for different offenses that got bigger and more serious over time. After their love affair started, Clyde kept up his string of care theft, break-ins and other vices which culminated in his being sent to prison for the first time at the age of 21 in 1930.
Events That Led To Bonnie and Clyde’s Death
Although Clyde was a very active criminal at the time they met, Bonnie had been exposed to crime through her former husband was not an active criminal. However, all of that changed as she spent more time with Clyde. He went to prison in 1930 and suffered a mental health decline from the many sexual assaults he experienced there so that when he was eventually released on parole in 1932, he had changed completely. He formed a gang first with Bonnie and Ralph Fults whom he had met in prison, but they soon disbanded after Bonnie and Fults were nabbed and the latter was sent back to prison.
Bonnie and Clyde would later regroup with a gunman known as Raymond Hamilton and start a real reign of terror killing any victim who fought back and police officers who intervened while they went about stealing whatever their hearts desired. Two more people would join the gang by 1933; Ivan M Barrow who was popular as Buck, and Blanche, his wife. Buck was Clyde’s brother and he joined the gang months after he was granted a pardon from a prison sentence.
The gang of five engaged in some very dangerous robberies and made headlines across the United States managing to evade the law because, despite the fact that they did not hesitate to kill anyone who got in their way, they also kidnapped some and released them far from home with money for transport to get them home. These little acts of kindness made them seem a lot less dangerous than they actually were. However, it was only a matter of time before people actually saw them for who they truly were and started trying to help the law bring them down. This caused a lot of troubles for the gang as everyone was on the lookout for them.
The gang went on the run and skipped towns as often as they had to, sticking to bushes and cooking their own meals in the wild to avoid drawing attention. However, the end of their gang came sooner than they expected. Bonnie got injured in an accident they had and was able to use only one leg, hence she was often carried; this slowed them down and made them even more noticeable as word had spread about them. In July 1933 Buck was brought down following a shootout with the police which also led to the arrest of his wife. Three months later, another member of the gang, Jones, would be captured when he went back to Houston to visit his mother.
Their Deaths Was Well Celebrated
Later, attempts including an ambush were set up to apprehend the two remaining members of the deadly gang; Bonnie and Clyde, but it failed. In January 1934, they broke into the Eastham State Prison Farm at Waldo, Texas where they helped five prisoners to escape. This act intensified the efforts of Texas Police and the government to ensure that the criminals were apprehended. This did not deter the gang as they continued on their not so merry way.
However, the end came for the two sooner than they expected. Unknown to them, the police had hired the services of retired legendary Texas Ranger Captain Frank Hamer who formed a posse along with five other Texas and Louisiana officers who had started tracking and studying the gang’s movements since February 1934. They found that the gang’s movements were consistent, sticking to state lines while taking turns to visit their families and the next was Methvin’s father who lived in Louisiana. With this information, an ambush was set for Bonnie and Clyde to walk into.
On the 22nd of May 1934, the posse came to Bonnie and Clyde’s rendevous point at Methvin’s father’s house and took cover in the bushes to lie in wait for the criminals to come calling. They waited for all of that day but the gang was a no show until the next day 23rd of May when they were almost giving up on the ambush. Clyde drove up to the house at a high speed in his stolen Ford V8 and stopped to exchange pleasantries with Methvin’s father who the posse had planted as a distraction. As soon as the car came to a close, the officer started shooting, killing Clyde instantly with the first shot. Parker’s Scream alerted them to her presence in the car and they opened fire on the car, emptying all of their ammunition into it until it crashed into a nearby ditch.
Bonnie and Clyde’s deaths attracted the attention of many who had waited with baited breaths for the news of their capture. Right after the shoot out, a mammoth crowd gathered to see the bodies for themselves and some to get memorabilia of the notorious thieves. Some went as far as cutting off bloody locks of Bonnie’s hair before the police could stop them. Their death also attracted people from all over the country who could be seen celebrating in pubs.
Bonnie’s Families Did Not Honor Her Burial Wishes
Having formed a bond in life and crime, the notorious duo wished to be buried beside each other but because her mother did not approve of the relationship her daughter had with Clyde, she insisted to bury her separately and away from the man she felt took her daughter’s innocence and led her to a quick death. At her funeral which held on the 26th of May, floral tributes came in from all over the country including those from other criminals who held the duo in high esteem. Her remains was buried Fishtrap Cemetery but was later moved to the new Crown Hill Cemetery in Dallas.
Barrow’s funeral held the day before Bonnie’s on the 25th of May 1934 and he was buried beside his brother in Western Heights Cemetery. His gravestone reads; “Gone but not forgotten”, words he chose himself.
How Many People Did Bonnie and Clyde Kill?
Because the criminal duo engaged in shootouts often with the police and were in a constant rat race before they were eventually gunned down, they succeeded in killing a good number of people. In all, they are estimated to have been involved in robberies, burglaries, auto theft and killed 13 people in the bid to escape crime scenes or get away from the police. Among those they were said to have killed were two police officers and a sheriff.
Barrow’s murder records started when he killed the person who sexually harassed him while he was in prison and from many accounts, this first act of murder had a huge effect on his mental health. According to his former prison mate Fults, the time Clyde spent in prison saw him go from a schoolboy to a rattlesnake.