Bonnie and Clyde are the most famous pair of American robbers during the Great Depression. The Barrow gang is responsible for numerous robberies and murders, but an overly romanticized image of criminals has reached our days.
Newspaper headlines and films were devoted to their fate, but the real story of Bonnie and Clyde was not always like a beautiful picture. We present to your attention interesting facts about the legendary criminal couple.
Bonnie was a diligent student, but shortly before her 16th birthday, she dropped out of school and married Roy Torton
Bonnie Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas, and grew up in West Dallas. Before she met Clyde, she married her high school sweetheart, Roy Thorton. After just a year of relationships, 16-year-old Bonnie went down the aisle with Roy, who earned a living by robbery and robbery.
Due to Torton's regular infidelities, the couple soon separated, but an official divorce was not issued, and Bonnie wore an engagement ring for the rest of her life. In addition, in memory of the failed relationship, she got a tattoo in the form of hearts with the names "Bonnie" and "Roy" on the inside of her thigh.
In 1933, Thorton was arrested for armed robbery, and a year later Bonnie died. Then Roy told the press that he was very happy with this outcome of her life. He believed that it was much better to die than to be behind bars. In 1937, he attempted to escape from prison and was shot by the guards.
Clyde Barrow was born on March 24, 1909 in Ellis County, Texas. His parents were poor farmers, so since childhood, he and his brothers had to independently earn their own means for food.
Even as a teenager, he was arrested more than once for theft and trafficking in stolen things. Growing up, Clyde and his brothers took on more serious and lucrative crimes: breaking into safes, robbing stores and stealing cars. Clyde and Bonnie met in January 1930 and immediately liked each other. A couple of weeks later, Clyde was charged with several crimes and sent to Waco.
Convinced that Clyde was her destiny, Bonnie followed her lover and carried a gun into his prison. This is what allowed Barrow and several of his cellmates to break free. Alas, the freedom was short-lived.
While trying to escape, Clyde killed a man, so when he was caught again and arrested, he was already facing a much more serious punishment. This time he was sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment not in a local jail, but in Eastham prison, known for extremely harsh and cruel treatment of prisoners.
Life in Eastham was not easy, the punishment for prisoners was hard labor. Moreover, the young and pretty Clyde regularly became a victim of sexual abuse by his cellmates. Barrow decided to rebel against such conditions of stay in prison and cut off two fingers on his left foot with an axe, only to be transferred to another correctional institution.
It turned out that there was no need for such a sacrifice, since just a week later Clyde's mother managed to get him released on bail.
Clyde left Eastham, becoming a tough and hardened man. One of his cellmates said that "from a pathetic schoolboy, he turned into a rattlesnake." After Barrow's release, Bonnie was strongly advised to cut off any ties with him, but the feelings of the young criminals turned out to be stronger than common sense.
In August 1932, Clyde was drinking with his comrades in a bar in Stringtown, Oklahoma, when the sheriff and his deputy approached them. While intoxicated, Barrow and company opened fire, killing the deputy and wounding the sheriff. The gang spent the next two years on the run.
The apartment of the Barrow gang in Joplin, Missouri
As of 1932, the Barrow gang included Bonnie, Clyde, Clyde's brother Buck, his wife Blanche, William D. Jones, Henry Methvin, Raymond Hamilton, Joe Palmer and Ralph Fults. In 1933, the company moved to the Missouri city of Joplin, where gangsters were hiding in the 1920s. Having settled in a three-room apartment above the garage, they did not hesitate to have fun with alcohol, gambling and noisy entertainment. It was this fun that attracted the attention of suspicious neighbors who contacted the police.
During the raid, the criminals shot back for some time, but then they managed to escape by driving out of the garage. When examining the apartment of the Barrow gang, numerous photos were found: the criminals really took a lot of photos, but the real fan of this case was Bonnie.
The photos found in the apartment were sent by the police to the sites of the nearest settlements
Most of the photos of Bonnie and Clyde known today are staged. The couple loved to pose theatrically, dressed in elegant clothes from advertising pictures. It was these photos that allowed us to preserve the image of the most famous criminal couple. In many pictures, Bonnie is depicted armed, however, although the girl was quite good at weapons, in most cases she played the role of a gunner.
Despite the status of legendary robbers of the XX century, Bonnie and Clyde were not so successful. In two years, they robbed no more than 15 banks, and their production sometimes did not exceed $80. Given the fact that the gang of nine people was constantly on the run, the loot was hardly enough to provide for minimal needs. Sometimes it got to the point that the "greatest criminals" had to hack vending machines to get an extra penny.
The author of the book "Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde", Jeff Gwynn, wrote that the loot was not always the goal of robberies. He explained:
In July 1933, the Barrow gang broke into the US National Guard Armory in Enid, Oklahoma. There they stole five machine guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition, becoming even more dangerous than ever. One Easter Sunday in 1934, they opened fire in the direction of two policemen, I. B. Wheeler and H. D. Murphy.
Officer Murphy went to work for the first time two weeks after his own wedding. This attack was the last straw for the authorities of several states, who decided to join forces to finally get rid of the dangerous couple.
Memorial in memory of Officers Wheeler (26) and Murphy (24), killed by members of the Barrow gang
Bonnie liked to write poems in her personal diary, one of them predicted the imminent death of Bonnie and Clyde. Probably, Parker understood that they had crossed the line, because the punishment was only a matter of time.
Clyde Barrow was a gifted musician who chose the wrong path. Clyde's younger sister Lillian Barrow said that her brother liked to please ordinary people who lost their livelihoods due to the Great Depression. He had a good creative ability, and even as a teenager he discovered the saxophone.
On May 23, 1934, a Ford V8 stolen by the Barrow gang was ambushed on a tip from the father of one of the gang members, Henry Methvin. When the unsuspecting lovers saw him on the side of the road and decided to say hello, the police opened fire on the car. Clyde was killed instantly by a shot to the head, both criminals received more than 50 bullet wounds. In the car with the bodies of the dead, the police also found Barrow's favorite saxophone, which he always carried with him.
When news of the massacre of the most famous pair of robbers spread around the district, local residents rushed to the place of death of Bonnie and Clyde to appropriate at least a piece of the history of the legendary criminals. When the investigator finally arrived at the place of the ambush, he saw that people were trying to steal everything, starting with shell casings and ending with glass fragments and fragments of bloody clothing. One quick-witted man even tried to cut off Clyde's left ear with a pocket knife as a souvenir.
Hours after the death of Bonnie and Clyde, people from other cities came to the surrounding settlements to hear the story of their death. Clyde's father, Henry Barrow, came to identify the victims, who could hardly stand the sight. Even during the preparation of the bodies for burial, the funeral director was hardly able to embalm the deceased because of the large number of bullet holes.
Clyde Coomy's mother Walker
After the death of Bonnie and Clyde, the US government turned its attention to their relatives and friends. More than ten people were under investigation for possible assistance to robbers. In particular, Clyde's mother Kumi Walker also came under suspicion. Prosecutor Clyde O. Istus was sure that all the gang members were participants in the conspiracy, and the real leader was Kumi.
Kumi admitted that she periodically met with her son and Bonnie, helping them with food and clothes. She defended Clyde to the last, assuring the court that her son could not be a murderer, and did not believe what was written about him in the newspapers. For aiding the Barrow gang, Kumi was sentenced to 30 days in prison.
The graves of the robbers have been taken care of by their relatives since the 1990s: Clyde's 71-year-old nephew Buddy Barrow and Bonnie Rae's 85-year-old niece Lin Linder
In the last years of their lives, Parker and Barrow repeatedly voiced that they would like to be buried together. Their dying wish was never fulfilled. Bonnie was immediately buried at Fishtrap Cemetery in Dallas, then her body was moved to Crown Hill Memorial Park. Clyde is buried in the Western Heights Cemetery. There is still a vacant lot for Parker near his grave.
All the relatives of the couple were in favor of their joint burial, but Bonnie's mother spoke out against it, who did not approve of their relationship. At the site of the couple's death there is a memorial in honor of the police officers who saved the world from criminals.