Bonnie and Clyde’s days were slowly getting numbered. Their last few robberies occurred in Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. They had to be extremely careful, realizing that they can get recognized, as had happened in Missouri and Iowa that left multiple casualties. The couple would sleep in their car during the night and drive during the day to avoid scrutiny. With bad luck, the couple were setup in Grand Prairie, Texas in November 1933 by the Dallas Texas Rangers and deputies. They escaped the officers’ bullets and reached an attorney on the freeway. They held him up at gunpoint and fled with his car, towards Louisiana. The couple were already accustomed to their situations, always too close for comfort.1
Bonnie and Clyde met in Texas in January, 1930. Before that time, Clyde was born into a family of a poor farmer. Clyde had a passion for music and at one point was considering to pursue a career in music. Influenced negatively by his older brother Buck, and a shady family friend, Clyde went from learning how to play instruments to stealing cars. Bonnie was very similar to Clyde when growing up, as she also had a love for music and acting. She always had a dream of performing on the silver screen. When Bonnie was nineteen, she was married to Roy Thornton, who was just another criminal. Clyde who was twenty-one and unmarried, was already sent to prison a little while after the couple met. He was able to escape with the help of Bonnie, who had snuck him a gun, but he was later recaptured and sent back to prison. Clyde was paroled in February 1932, and rejoined Bonnie to resume their life of crime with each other.2
With the capture of the couple’s friend “Jones” (who rode with the couple for eight months) on November 16, 1933, law enforcement learned of the close ties Bonnie and Clyde had with their families. This resulted in another ambush attempt, which led to putting their mothers in danger. Clyde was furious and decided to retaliate by being focused on the East Ham Prison Farm.3 In January 1934, Clyde broke out an old friend, Raymond Hamilton, who had previously been a part of the Barrow gang. A guard was killed and multiple prisoners escaped. Among those prisoners was Henry Methvin, who had begun riding with Bonnie and Clyde. The crime spree began once again, to include the brutal murder of two motorcycle cops, who were parked and waiting for an Easter meeting with family members. Henry Methvin got spooked and shot at the first cop, then Clyde shot the second cop. By mid-afternoon they played dead by their motorcycle on what was then a country road off Texas 114. But the end was near.
Referring to the importance of values Bonnie and Clyde had with their families, the Rangers once again set up another ambush. This ambush would involve Methvin’s family this time. When police learned that Methvin had split up from the couple on the evening of May 19, 1934, they realized this was a huge opportunity. Police assumed they would search for Henry at his father’s farm, so they planned an ambush along the road that the outlaws were expected to take. The six rangers confiscated Iverson Methvin’s truck (Henry Methvin’s father) and removed one of its tires, then placed it alongside highway 164, which is between Sailes and Gibsland, LA. They figured if Clyde saw the truck, they would slow down and want to investigate. Sure enough, they were right. At 9:15 am on May 23, 1934, they saw Clyde’s stolen Ford v8 slow down while approaching the truck. The officers opened fire at the car, killing Bonnie and Clyde instantly. About 130 bullets were fired at the car, blowing a hole in the back of Clyde’s head and shooting off Bonnie’s right hand.4
Bonnie’s wish was to be buried next to Clyde, but their families had different wishes. Although they created a romantic image of two young lovers running from the big, bad cops, Clyde’s driving skills, Bonnie’s poetry, and her beauty, it was destroyed by the truth. Though they often captured police who caught up to them and let them off unharmed hours and hundreds of miles later, they killed thirteen people, some bystanders slain during bungled robberies.5 They really never got away with much money when they robbed banks. Bonnie and Clyde were desperate criminals, sleeping in their most recently stolen car and constantly fearing death in a hail of bullets from a police ambush. Still, they were the stuff of legends.
- Encyclopedia Brittanica, 2019, s.v. “Bonnie and Clyde,” by John Phillip Jenkins. ↵
- Jeff Guinn, “The Irresistible Bonnie Parker,” Smithsonian (website), April 2009. ↵
- Pauline Kael, “ Bonnie and Clyde,” The New Yorker, October 1967. ↵
- John Treherne, The Strange History of Bonnie and Clyde ( New York: Stein and Day, 1985) 143-151. ↵
- Karen Blumenthal, Bonnie and Clyde: The making of a legend (New York: Vikings Children Books, 2018), 51-56. ↵