Monday, May 18, 2015

Bonnie and Clyde were Killed in Police Shootout (May 23, 1934)

This week (May 18-24) in crime history – Evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson vanished (May 18, 1926); Irish playwright Oscar Wilde was released from prison (May 19, 1897); Mary Kay Letourneau married her victim (May 20, 2005); Bobbie Franks was abducted by Leopold and Loeb (May 21, 1924); Amy Fisher was arrested for shooting her lover’s wife (May 21, 1992); Serial killer Wayne Williams was questioned by police in regards to a rash of child killings in Atlanta (May 22, 1981); Chandra Levey’s remains were found (May 22, 2002); Bonnie and Clyde were killed in police shootout (May 23, 1934); Captain Kidd was executed (May 23, 1701); Former Nazi Adolf Eichmann was captured in Argentina (May 23, 1960)

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -
On May 23, 1934, infamous outlaw fugitives Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were killed in a police ambush near Sailes, Louisiana. A contingent of officers from Texas and Louisiana set up along the highway, waiting for the duo to appear, and then unloaded a two-minute fusillade of 167 bullets at their car, killing the criminal couple. Bonnie Parker was 19 years old when she met Clyde Barrow while visiting her husband in a Texas jail. Barrow, serving time for burglary, obviously made quite an impression on Parker, because she smuggled a gun, taped to her thigh, into prison to help him escape. He was eventually caught in Ohio and brought back to prison. When a personal appeal from his mother to the Texas governor earned his release in 1932, he vowed never to return.

Bonnie and Clyde teamed up shortly thereafter. After Bonnie was caught stealing a car, she had to spend three months in prison, while Clyde went on a robbery spree. He then killed a sheriff and deputy at a barn dance in Oklahoma. In the fall of 1932, the pair spent their time carrying out small-time robberies throughout Texas and Oklahoma. At one such robbery, they picked up W. D. Jones, a gas station attendant, who joined their team for the next 18 months. Buck Barrow, Clyde’s brother who was recently pardoned by the new Texas governor, Ma Ferguson, also joined the gang.

For some reason, the media latched onto Bonnie and Clyde. The pair loved the attention, posing for snapshots with their arsenal of weapons. In early 1934, they barely escaped a trap in Missouri, killing two lawmen in the ensuing shootout. Buck and his wife, Blanche, were shot and captured, but Buck died from his wounds. Texas Ranger Frank Hamer finally caught up with Bonnie and Clyde in May, after tracking them for more than three months. Today, Bonnie and Clyde are remembered as charming Robin Hood type characters which are far from the truth, mostly due to the sympathetic personalities portrayed in the 1967 classic movie Bonnie and Clyde, starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, as well as other farfetched portrayals.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website for more information. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

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