Bonnie and Clyde death video: Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (October 1, 1910–May 23, 1934) and Clyde Chestnut Barrow (March 24, 1909 – May 23, 1934) were an American criminal couple who traveled the Central United States with their gang during the Great Depression.
The couple was known for their bank robberies, although they preferred to rob small stores or rural funeral homes.
Their exploits captured the attention of the American press and its readership during what is occasionally referred to as the “public enemy era” between 1931 and 1934, until the couple were ambushed and shot to death in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. They are believed to have murdered at least nine police officers and four civilians.
The 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, directed by Arthur Penn and starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway in the title roles, revived interest in the criminals and glamorized them with a romantic aura.
The 2019 Netflix film The Highwaymen depicted their manhunt from the point-of-view of the pursuing lawmen.
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By May 1934, Barrow had 16 warrants outstanding against him for multiple counts of robbery, auto theft, theft, escape, assault, and murder in four states. Hamer, who had begun tracking the gang on February 12, led the posse. He had studied the gang’s movements and found that they swung in a circle skirting the edges of five mid-western states, exploiting the “state line” rule which prevented officers from pursuing a fugitive into another jurisdiction. Barrow was consistent in his movements, so Hamer charted his path and predicted where he would go. The gang’s itinerary centered on family visits, and they were due to see Methvin’s family in Louisiana. Unbeknownst to Hamer, Barrow had designated Methvin’s parents’ residence as a rendezvous in case they were separated. Methvin had become separated from the rest of the gang in Shreveport. Hamer’s posse was composed of six men: Texas officers Hamer, Hinton, Alcorn, and B.M. “Maney” Gault, and Louisiana officers Henderson Jordan and Prentiss Morel Oakley.
The road in the Louisiana woods where Barrow and Parker died
1934 Ford Deluxe V-8 after the ambush with the bodies of Barrow and Parker in the front seats
On May 21, the four posse members from Texas were in Shreveport when they learned that Barrow and Parker were planning to visit Ivy Methvin in Bienville Parish that evening. The full posse set up an ambush along Louisiana State Highway 154 south of Gibsland toward Sailes. Hinton recounted that the lawmen were in place by 9 pm, and waited through the whole of the next day (May 22) with no sign of the perpetrators. Other accounts said that the officers set up on the evening of May 22.
The gunfire was so loud that the posse were temporarily deaf all afternoon
At approximately 9:15 am on May 23, the posse was still concealed in the bushes and almost ready to give up when they heard a vehicle approaching at high speed. In their official report, they stated they had persuaded Methvin to position his truck on the shoulder of the road that morning. They hoped Barrow would stop to speak with him, putting his vehicle close to the posse’s position in the bushes. The vehicle proved to be the Ford V8 with Barrow at the wheel and he slowed down as hoped. The six lawmen opened fire while the vehicle was still moving. Oakley fired first, probably before any order to do so. Barrow was shot in the head and died instantly from Oakley’s first shot and Hinton reported hearing Parker scream. The officers fired about 130 rounds, emptying each of their weapons into the car. The two had survived several bullet wounds over the years in their confrontations with the law. On this day any one of several of Bonnie and Clyde’s wounds could have been the cause of death.
According to statements made by Hinton and Alcorn:
Each of us six officers had a shotgun and an automatic rifle and pistols. We opened fire with the automatic rifles. They were emptied before the car got even with us. Then we used shotguns. There was smoke coming from the car, and it looked like it was on fire. After shooting the shotguns, we emptied the pistols at the car, which had passed us and ran into a ditch about 50 yards on down the road. It almost turned over. We kept shooting at the car even after it stopped. We weren’t taking any chances.
Actual film footage taken by one of the deputies immediately after the ambush show 112 bullet holes in the vehicle, of which around one quarter struck the couple. The official report by parish coroner Dr. J. L. Wade listed seventeen entrance wounds on Barrow’s body and twenty-six on that of Parker, including several headshots to each, and another severed Barrow’s spinal column. Undertaker C.F. “Boots” Bailey had difficulty embalming the bodies because of all the bullet holes.
The perpetrators had more than a dozen guns and several thousand rounds of ammunition in the Ford, including 100 20-round BAR magazines
The deafened officers inspected the vehicle and discovered an arsenal of weapons, including stolen automatic rifles, sawed-off semi-automatic shotguns, assorted handguns, and several thousand rounds of ammunition, along with fifteen sets of license plates from various states. Hamer stated: “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 deaths quickly got around when Hamer, Jordan, Oakley, and Hinton drove into town to telephone their respective bosses. A crowd soon gathered at the spot. Gault and Alcorn were left to guard the bodies, but they lost control of the jostling, curious throng; one woman cut off bloody locks of Parker’s hair and pieces from her dress, which were subsequently sold as souvenirs. Hinton returned to find a man trying to cut off Barrow’s trigger finger, and was sickened by what was occurring. Arriving at the scene, the coroner reported:
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.
Hinton enlisted Hamer’s help in controlling the “circus-like atmosphere” and they got people away from the car.
The posse towed the Ford, with the dead bodies still inside, to the Conger Furniture Store & Funeral Parlor in downtown Arcadia, Louisiana. Preliminary embalming was done by Bailey in a small preparation room in the back of the furniture store, as it was common for furniture stores and undertakers to share the same space. The population of the northwest Louisiana town reportedly swelled from 2,000 to 12,000 within hours. Curious throngs arrived by train, horseback, buggy, and plane. Beer normally sold for 15 cents a bottle but it jumped to 25 cents, and sandwiches quickly sold out. Barrow had been shot in the head by a .35 Remington Model 8. Henry Barrow identified his son’s body, then sat weeping in a rocking chair in the furniture section.
H.D. Darby was an undertaker at the McClure Funeral Parlor and Sophia Stone was a home demonstration agent, both from nearby Ruston. Both of them came to Arcadia to identify the bodies because the Barrow gang had kidnapped them in 1933. Parker reportedly had laughed when she discovered that Darby was an undertaker. She remarked that maybe someday he would be working on her; Darby did assist Bailey in the embalming.
Funeral and burial of Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie Parker’s grave, inscribed: “As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew, so this old world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.”
Bonnie and Clyde wished to be buried side by side, but the Parker family would not allow it. Her mother wanted to grant her final wish to be brought home, but the mobs surrounding the Parker house made that impossible. More than 20,000 attended Parker’s funeral, and her family had difficulty reaching her gravesite. Parker’s services were held on May 26. Dr. Allen Campbell recalled that flowers came from everywhere, including some with cards allegedly from Pretty Boy Floyd and John Dillinger. The largest floral tribute was sent by a group of Dallas city newsboys; the sudden end of Bonnie and Clyde sold 500,000 newspapers in Dallas alone. Parker was buried in the Fishtrap Cemetery, although her body was moved in 1945 to the new Crown Hill Cemetery in Dallas.
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 May 25. He was buried in Western Heights Cemetery in Dallas, next to his brother Marvin. The Barrow brothers share a single granite marker with their names on it and an epitaph selected by Clyde: “Gone but not forgotten.”
The American National Insurance Company of Galveston, Texas, paid the life insurance policies in full on Barrow and Parker. Since then, the policy of payouts has changed to exclude payouts in cases of deaths caused by any criminal act by the insured.
The six men of the posse were each to receive a one-sixth share of the reward money, and Dallas Sheriff Schmid had promised Hinton that this would total some $26,000, but most of the organizations that had pledged reward funds reneged on their pledges. In the end, each lawman earned $200.23 for his efforts and collected memorabilia.
Clyde and Buck Barrow’s grave, inscribed: “Gone but not forgotten”
By the summer of 1934, new federal statutes made bank robbery and kidnapping federal offenses. The growing coordination of local authorities by the FBI, plus two-way radios in police cars, combined to make it more difficult to carry out series of robberies and murders than it had been just months before. Two months after Gibsland, Dillinger was killed on the street in Chicago; three months after that, Floyd was killed in Ohio; and one month after that, Baby Face Nelson was killed in Illinois.
Parker’s niece and last surviving relative is campaigning to have her aunt buried next to Barrow