Monday, May 23, 2011

Bonnie And Clyde - Notorious Criminal Couple

From Wikipedia.

Bonnie Parker (October 1, 1910 – May 23, 1934) and Clyde Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) were well-known robbers and criminals who travelled the Central United States with their gang during the Great Depression.

Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the "public enemy era" between 1931 and 1934.

Barrow preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations.

The gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and committed several civilian murders.

The couple themselves were eventually ambushed and killed in Louisiana by law officers.

Their reputation was cemented in American pop folklore by Arthur Penn's 1967 film Bonnie And Clyde with Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway portraying the criminal couple.

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker was born in Rowena, Texas, the second of three children.

Her father, Charles Parker, a bricklayer, died when Bonnie was four.

Her mother, Emma Krause, moved with the children to her parents' home in Cement City, an industrial suburb of Dallas.

Parker was one of the best students in her high school, winning top prizes in spelling, writing and public speaking.

Parker did not date until she was in her second year of high school, but in that year she fell in love with a classmate, Roy Thornton.

The two quit school and were married on September 25, 1926, six days before Parker's sixteenth birthday.

Their marriage, marked by his frequent absences and brushes with the law, was short-lived, and after January 1929 their paths never crossed again.

But they were never divorced, and Parker was wearing Thornton's wedding ring when she died.

Thornton was in prison in 1934 when he learned of his wife's ambush.

His reaction was, "I'm glad they went out like they did. It's much better than being caught."

In 1929, between the breakdown of her marriage and her first meeting with Clyde Barrow in January 1930, Parker lived with her mother and worked as a waitress in Dallas.

One of her regular customers in the cafe was postal worker Ted Hinton, who would join the Dallas Sheriff's Department in 1932, and as a posse member would participate in her ambush in 1934.

Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born in Ellis County, Texas, near Telico, a town just south of Dallas.

He was the fifth of seven children, from a desperately poor farming family that emigrated, piecemeal, to Dallas in the early 1920s.

Clyde was first arrested in late 1926, after running when police confronted him over a rental car he had failed to return on time.

His second arrest, with brother Marvin "Buck" Barrow, came soon after, this time for possession of stolen goods (turkeys).

Despite having legitimate jobs during the period 1927 to 1929, he also cracked safes, robbed stores and stole cars.

After sequential arrests in 1928 and 1929, his luck ran out and he was sent to Eastham Prison in April 1930.

While in prison, he was sexually assaulted repeatedly for over a year by a dominant inmate, whose skull he eventually fractured with a length of pipe.

It was Clyde Barrow's first killing.

Paroled in February 1932, Barrow emerged from Eastham a hardened and bitter criminal.

In his post-Eastham career, he focused on smaller jobs, robbing grocery stores and gas stations.

Barrow's favoured weapon was the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (called BAR).

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 he suffered while serving time.

Bonnie Parker met Clyde Barrow in January 1930 at a friend's house.

Parker was out of work and was staying in West Dallas to assist a girlfriend with a broken arm.

Barrow dropped by the girl's house while Parker was supposedly in the kitchen making hot chocolate.

When they met, both were smitten immediately.

After Barrow was released from prison in February 1932, he and Ralph Fults assembled a rotating core group of associates and began a series of small robberies, primarily of stores and gas stations.

Their goal was to collect enough money and firepower to launch a raid of liberation against Eastham prison.

On April 19, Bonnie Parker and Fults were captured in a failed hardware store burglary in Kaufman, Texas, and subsequently jailed.

On April 30, Barrow was the wheelman in a robbery in Hillsboro, Texas, during which the store's owner, JN Bucher, was shot and killed.

When shown mugshots, the victim's wife identified Barrow as one of the shooters, even though he had stayed outside in the car.

Meanwhile, Parker remained in jail until June 17.

When the Kaufman County grand jury convened, it declined to indict her, and she was released. Within a few weeks, she reunited with Barrow.

On August 5, while Parker was visiting her mother in Dallas, Barrow, Hamilton and Ross Dyer were drinking alcohol at a country dance in Stringtown, Oklahoma, when Sheriff CG Maxwell and his deputy, Eugene C Moore, approached them in the parking lot.

Barrow and Hamilton opened fire, killing the deputy and gravely wounding the sheriff.

It was the first killing of a lawman by Barrow and his gang, a total eventually amounting to nine officers.

Another civilian was added to the list on October 11, when storekeeper Howard Hall was killed during a robbery of his store in Sherman, Texas.

The take, twenty-eight dollars and some groceries.

WD Jones had been a friend of the Barrow family since childhood, and though he was only 16 years old on Christmas Eve 1932, he persuaded Barrow to let him join up with the pair and ride out of Dallas with them that night.

The very next day, Jones was initiated into homicide when he and Barrow killed Doyle Johnson, a young family man, in the process of stealing his car in Temple, Texas.

Less than two weeks later, on January 6, 1933, Barrow killed Tarrant County Deputy Sheriff Malcolm Davis when he, Parker and Jones wandered into a police trap set for another criminal.

The total murdered by the gang since April was now five.

On March 22, 1933, Buck Barrow was granted a full pardon and released from prison.

Within days, he and his wife, Blanche, had set up housekeeping with Clyde Barrow, Parker and Jones in a temporary hideout in Joplin, Missouri.

Lawmen assembled a two-car, five-man force on April 13 to confront the suspected bootleggers living in their rented apartment over a garage.

Though taken by surprise, Clyde, noted for remaining cool under fire, was gaining far more experience in gun battles than most lawmen.

He, Jones and Buck quickly killed Detective McGinnis and fatally wounded Constable Harryman.

During the escape from the apartment, Parker laid down covering fire with her own BAR, forcing Highway Patrol sergeant GB Kahler to duck behind a large oak tree while slugs slammed into the other side, forcing wood splinters into the sergeant's face.

Parker then got into the car with the others.

The car slowed long enough to pull in Blanche Barrow from the street, where she was pursuing her fleeing dog, Snow Ball.

The surviving officers later testified that their side had fired only fourteen rounds in the conflict, although one of these hit Jones in the side, one struck Clyde and was deflected by his suitcoat button, and one grazed Buck after ricocheting off a wall.

The group escaped the police at Joplin, but left most of their possessions at the rented apartment: Buck and Blanche's marriage license, Buck's parole papers (only three weeks old), a large arsenal.

For the next three months, they ranged from Texas as far north as Minnesota.

In May, they robbed banks in Lucerne, Indiana and Okabena, Minnesota. Previously they had kidnapped Dillard Darby and Sophia Stone at Ruston, Louisiana, in the course of stealing Darby's car.

This was one of several incidents between 1932 and 1934 in which they kidnapped lawmen or robbery victims, usually releasing them far from home, sometimes with money to help them return.

Stories of these encounters made headlines, but so too did the darker encounters.

The Barrow Gang would not hesitate to shoot anyone, lawman or civilian, who got in their way.

Other members of the Barrow Gang known or thought to have committed murders included Raymond Hamilton, WD Jones, Buck Barrow and Henry Methvin.

Eventually, the cold-bloodedness of the killings would not only sour the public perception of the outlaws, but lead directly to their undoing.

On June 10, while driving with Jones and Parker near Wellington, Texas, Barrow missed warning signs at a bridge under construction and flipped their car into a ravine.

Parker sustained horrific third degree burns to her right leg.

The burn was so severe, the muscles contracted and caused the leg to "draw up".

Near the end of her life, Parker could hardly walk and would either hop on her good leg or be carried by Clyde.

After getting help from a nearby farm family and kidnapping two local lawmen, the three outlaws rendezvoused with Blanche and Buck Barrow again and they hid out in a tourist court near Fort. Smith, Arkansas.

Then Buck and Jones bungled a local robbery and killed Town Marshall Henry D Humphrey in Alma, Arkansas.

With the renewed pursuit from the law, they had to flee again, despite the grave condition of Bonnie Parker.

On July 18, 1933, the gang checked into the Red Crown Tourist Court south of Platte City, Missouri (now within the city limits of Kansas City).

The Red Crown Court was just two brick cabins joined by garages and the gang rented both.

To the south stood the Red Crown Tavern, a popular restaurant and a favourite watering hole for Missouri Highway Patrolmen.

When Clyde and Jones went to town to purchase bandages and atropine sulfate to treat Bonnie's leg, the druggist contacted Sheriff Holt Coffey, who put the cabins under watch.

Coffey had been alerted by Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas to be on the lookout for strangers seeking such supplies.

The sheriff contacted Captain Baxter, who called for reinforcements from Kansas City including an armoured car.

At 11pm that night, Sheriff Coffey led a group of officers armed with Thompson submachine guns toward the cabins.

But in a pitched gunfight at considerable distances, the submachine guns proved no match for Clyde Barrow's preferred Browning Automatic Rifles, stolen July 7 from the National Guard armoury at Enid, Oklahoma.

The Barrows laid down withering fire and made their escape when a bullet short-circuited the horn on the armoured car and the lawmen mistook it for a cease-fire signal.

They did not pursue the retreating Barrow automobile.

Although the gang evaded law enforcement once again, Buck Barrow had sustained a horrific wound in the side of the head and Blanche Barrow was nearly blinded from glass fragments in both her eyes.

Their prospects for holding out against the ensuing manhunt dwindled.

Five days later, on July 24, the Barrow Gang was camped at Dexfield Park, an abandoned amusement park near Dexter, Iowa.

So plainly mortal was Buck's head wound that Clyde and Jones dug a grave for him.

After their bloody bandages were noticed by local citizens, it was determined that the campers were the Barrow gang.

Surrounded by local lawmen and approximately one hundred spectators, the Barrows once again found themselves under fire.

Clyde Barrow, Parker and WD Jones escaped on foot.

Buck was shot again, in the back, and he and his wife were captured by the officers.

Buck died five days later, at Kings Daughters Hospital in Perry, Iowa, of pneumonia after surgery.

For the next six weeks, the remaining trio ranged far afield of their usual area of operations — west to Colorado, north to Minnesota, southeast to Mississippi — keeping a low profile and pulling only small robberies for daily-bread money.

They restocked their arsenal when Barrow and Jones burglarised an armoury at Plattville, Illinois on August 20 and scored three BARs, handguns and lots of ammunition.

By early September, they risked a run back in to Dallas to see their families for the first time in four months, and Jones parted company with them, continuing on to Houston, where his mother had moved.

He was arrested there without incident on November 16 and returned to Dallas.

Through the autumn, Barrow executed a series of small-time robberies with a series of small-time local accomplices while his family, and Parker's, attended to her considerable medical needs.

On November 22, 1933, they narrowly evaded arrest — but not bullets — while attempting to hook up with family members near Sowers, Texas.

This time, it was their hometown Sheriff, Dallas' Smoot Schmid and his squad, lying in wait nearby.

As Barrow drove up, he sensed a trap and drove right past his family's car, at which point Schmid and his deputies stood up and opened fire with machine guns and a BAR.

The family members in the crossfire were not hit, but not so the outlaws.

A single BAR slug penetrated the car — and the legs of both Parker and Barrow.

The couple made their getaway that night, but the attempted ambush would prove to be a dry run for deputies Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn, who would get another shot at the pair six months hence in Louisiana.

Bonnie Parker crossed an ominous personal threshold the following week when on November 28, a Dallas grand jury delivered a murder indictment on her and Barrow for the January 1933 killing of Tarrant County Deputy Malcolm Davis.

It was the first murder warrant issued for Parker.

On January 16, 1934, Barrow finally made his long-contemplated move against the Texas Department of Corrections as he orchestrated the escape of Raymond Hamilton, Henry Methvin and several others in the infamous "Eastham Breakout" of 1934.

The Texas prison system received national negative publicity from the brazen raid, and Barrow appeared to have achieved what Phillips describes as the burning passion in his life, exacting revenge on the Texas Department of Corrections.

During the jailbreak, escapee Joe Palmer shot prison officer Major Joe Crowson and this act would eventually bring the full power of the Texas and federal governments to bear on the manhunt for Barrow and Parker.

As Crowson struggled for life, prison chief Lee Simmons reportedly promised him that all persons involved in the breakout would be hunted down and killed, and all were, except for Henry Methvin, whose life would eventually be exchanged for turning Barrow and Parker over to authorities.

The Texas Department of Corrections then contacted former Texas Ranger Captain Frank A. Hamer, and persuaded him to accept an assignment to hunt down the Barrow Gang.

Though retired, Hamer had retained his commission, which had not yet expired.

He accepted the assignment as a Texas Highway Patrol officer, secondarily assigned to the prison system as a special investigator, and given the specific task of hunting down Bonnie, Clyde and the Barrow Gang.

Frank Hamer was tall, burly, cryptic and taciturn, unimpressed by authority, driven by an "inflexible adherence to right, or what he thinks is right."

For twenty years Hamer had been feared and admired throughout the Lone Star State as "the walking embodiment of the 'One Riot, One Ranger' ethos.

In accomplishing the aims of Texas law enforcement he "had acquired a formidable reputation as a result of several spectacular captures and the shooting of a number of Texas criminals.

He was officially credited with fifty-three kills (and seventeen wounds to himself).

Although prison boss Simmons always said publicly that Hamer had been his first choice for the Barrow hunt, there's evidence he approached two other Rangers first, both of whom had been queasy about shooting a woman and declined.

Hamer apparently had no such qualms.

Starting February 10, he became the constant shadow of Barrow and Parker, living out of his car, just a town or two behind the bandits.

Three of Hamer's brothers were also Texas Rangers, and while brother Harrison was the best shot of the four, Frank was considered the most tenacious.

On April 1, 1934, Easter Sunday, Barrow and Henry Methvin killed two young highway patrolmen, HD Murphy and Edward Bryant Wheeler, in an area of Grapevine, Texas now called Southlake.

A contemporary eyewitness account stated that Barrow and Parker fired the fatal shots and this story got widespread coverage in the press before it was discredited.

Henry Methvin later admitted he fired the first shot, after assuming Barrow wanted the officers killed.

He also admitted that Parker approached the dying officers intending to help them, not to administer the cold-blooded point-blank coup de grace the discredited eyewitness had described.

Having little choice once Methvin had shot Wheeler, Barrow then joined in, firing at Patrolman Murphy.

Most likely, Parker was asleep in the back seat when Methvin started shooting and took no part in the assault.

Five days later, Barrow and Methvin killed 60-year-old Constable William "Cal" Campbell, a widower single father, near Commerce, Oklahoma.

They kidnapped Commerce police chief Percy Boyd, drove around with him, crossing the state line into Kansas, and then let him out with a clean shirt, a few dollars and a request from Parker to tell the world she didn't smoke cigars.

The outlaws didn't realise at their upbeat parting that Boyd would identify both Barrow and Parker to authorities — he never learned the name of the sullen youth who was with them — and when the resultant arrest warrant was issued for the Campbell murder, it specified Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker and John Doe.

Barrow and Parker were ambushed and killed on May 23, 1934 on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

The couple appeared in daylight in an automobile and were shot by a posse of four Texas officers (Frank Hamer, BM "Manny" Gault, Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton) and two Louisiana officers (Henderson Jordan and Prentiss Morel Oakley).

The posse was led by Hamer, who had begun tracking the pair on February 10, 1934. They were mutilated.

Word of the ambush quickly got around when Hamer, Jordan, Oakley and Hinton drove to town to telephone their respective bosses.

A crowd soon gathered at the spot, and Gault and Alcorn, who were left to guard the bodies, lost control of the jostling curious.

One woman cut off bloody locks of Parker's hair and pieces from her dress, which were sold as souvenirs.

Hinton returned to find a man trying to cut off Barrow's trigger finger, and was sickened by what was occurring.

One eager man had opened his pocket knife, and was reaching into the car to cut off Clyde's left ear.

The coroner enlisted Hamer for help in controlling the "circus-like atmosphere," and only then did people move away from the car.

Bonnie and Clyde wished to be buried side by side, but the Parker family would not allow it.

Mrs. Parker had wanted to grant her daughter's final wish, which was to be brought home, but the mobs surrounding the Parker house made that impossible.

Over 20,000 people turned out for Bonnie Parker's funeral, making it difficult for her family to reach the grave site.

Parker's family used the now defunct McKamy-Campbell Funeral Home, then located on Forest Avenue in Dallas, to conduct her funeral.

Hubert “Buster” Parker accompanied his sister’s body back to Dallas in the McKamy-Campbell ambulance.

Her services were held Saturday, May 26, at 2pm in the funeral home, directed by Allen D Campbell.

His son, Dr Allen Campbell, later remembered that flowers came from everywhere.

Thousands of people gathered outside both Dallas funeral homes hoping for a chance to view the bodies.

Barrow’s private funeral was held at sunset on Friday, May 25, in the funeral home chapel.

He was buried in Western Heights Cemetery in Dallas, next to his brother, Marvin.

They share a single granite marker with their names on it and a four-word epitaph previously selected by Clyde: “Gone but not forgotten.”

The life insurance policies for both Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were paid in full by American National of Galveston.

Blanche Barrow's injuries left her permanently blinded in her left eye.

After the 1933 shootout at Dexfield Park, she was taken into custody on the charge of "Assault With Intent To Kill."

She was sentenced to ten years in prison but was paroled in 1939 for good behaviour.

She returned to Dallas, leaving her life of crime in the past, and lived with her invalid father as his caregiver.

She married Eddie Frasure in 1940, worked as a taxi cab dispatcher and a beautician, and completed the terms of her parole one year later.

She lived in peace with her husband until he died of cancer in 1969.

Warren Beatty approached her to purchase the rights to her name for use in the 1967 film.

While she agreed to the original script, she objected to her characterisation.

She died from cancer at the age of 77 on December 24, 1988, and was buried in Dallas's Grove Hill Memorial Park under the name "Blanche B. Frasure".

Henry Methvin's ambush-earned Texas pardon didn't help him in Oklahoma, where he was convicted of the 1934 murder of Constable Campbell at Commerce.

He was paroled in 1942 and killed by a train in 1948.

Bonnie Parker's husband Roy Thornton was sentenced to five years in prison for burglary in March 1933.

He was killed by guards on October 3, 1937, during an escape attempt from Eastham.

Prentiss Oakley, who all six possemen agree fired the first shots, was reported to have been troubled by his actions.

He often admitted to his friends that he had fired prematurely and he was the only posse member to express regret publicly.

He would go on to succeed Henderson Jordan as Bienville Parish sheriff in 1940.

Frank Hamer returned to a quieter life as a freelance security consultant — a strikebreaker — to oil companies, although, according to Guinn, "his reputation suffered somewhat after Gibsland" because many people felt he had not given Barrow and Parker a fair chance to surrender.

He made headlines again in 1948 when he and Governor Coke Stevenson unsuccessfully challenged Lyndon Johnson's vote totals during the election for the US Senate.

He died in 1955 at 71.

His possemate Bob Alcorn died on May 23, 1964 — exactly thirty years to the day after the Gibsland ambush.

The criminal couple's enduring appeal to the public was due to their revolt against an uncaring system.