Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were American criminals who traveled the central United States with their gang during the Great Depression, robbing people and killing when cornered or confronted. Their exploits captured the attention of the American public during the “Public Enemy Era,” between 1931 and 1935. Though known today for their dozen-or-so bank robberies, the two preferred to rob small stores or rural gas stations. The gang is believed to have killed at least nine police officers and several civilians. The couple were eventually ambushed and killed by law officers near Sailes, Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Their reputation was revived and cemented in American pop folklore by Arthur Penn’s 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.
Even during their lifetimes, their depiction in the press was at considerable odds with the hardscrabble reality of their life on the road, especially for Bonnie Parker. While she was present at a hundred or more felonies during the two years she was Barrow’s companion, she was not the cigar-smoking, machine gun-wielding killer depicted in the newspapers, newsreels, and pulp detective magazines of the day. Gang member W. D. Jones later testified he could not recall ever having seen her shoot at a law officer, and the cigar myth grew out of a playful snapshot police found at an abandoned hideout. It was released to the press and published nationwide. While Parker did chain smoke Camel cigarettes, she never smoked cigars.
Bonnie and Clyde Star Crossed Lovers or Just Killers?
Clyde Champion Barrow and his companion, Bonnie Parker, were shot to death by officers in an ambush near Sailes, Bienville Parish, Louisiana on May 23, 1934, after one of the most colorful and spectacular manhunts the nation had seen up to that time.
Barrow was suspected of numerous killings and was wanted for murder, robbery, and state charges of kidnapping.
The FBI, then called the Bureau of Investigation, became interested in Barrow and his paramour late in December 1932 through a singular bit of evidence. A Ford automobile, which had been stolen in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, was found abandoned near Jackson, Michigan in September of that year. At Pawhuska, it was learned another Ford car had been abandoned there which had been stolen in Illinois. A search of this car revealed it had been occupied by a man and a woman, indicated by abandoned articles therein. In this car was found a prescription bottle, which led special agents to a drug store in Nacogdoches, Texas, where investigation disclosed the woman for whom the prescription had been filled was Clyde Barrow’s aunt.
Further investigation revealed that the woman who obtained the prescription had been visited recently by Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker, and Clyde’s brother, L. C. Barrow. It also was learned that these three were driving a Ford car, identified as the one stolen in Illinois. It was further shown that L. C. Barrow had secured the empty prescription bottle from a son of the woman who had originally obtained it.
On May 20, 1933, the United States Commissioner at Dallas, Texas, issued a warrant against Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, charging them with the interstate transportation, from Dallas to Oklahoma, of the automobile stolen in Illinois. The FBI then started its hunt for this elusive pair.
From The FBI Files. Read More….
Support Independent Media!