To: Dr. Baird
From: Zach Gilmore
Subject: Serial Killer Research Paper
Word Count: 1283
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were two of the most notorious criminals in American history. Throughout the 1930's, Bonnie and Clyde went on a crime spree that terrorized many parts of the South and Midwest. Rewards were posted for their arrest. Many lawman died violently in confrontations with Bonnie and Clyde. They created the infamous Barrow Gang with Clyde's brother, Buck, and his wife, Blanche. The gang finally dissolved, and Bonnie and Clyde were back together robbing banks and creating terror. In the end, the lawman caught up to Bonnie and Clyde, and killed them while they were riding in a stolen car. Bonnie and Clyde's biography, crime spree, and death are among the most interesting parts of the couple's life.
Bonnie Parker was born on October 1, 1910 in Rowena, Texas. She stood 4'11" in her stocking feet, weighed 90 pounds, had Shirley Temple-colored strawberry-blond ringlets, was freckle-faced and, according to those who knew her, was very pretty. Her parents were hard working laborers plunked down in life among the lower caste. A good student in high school, she excelled in creative writing and displayed a dramatic flair for the arts. Her favorite color was red; when she could afford it, she wore fashionable clothes dominating that color. She loved hats of all kinds. As a child, her father died young and her mother was forced to bring her and her two siblings to Cement City, near Dallas, where they lived with Mrs. Parker's parents. Married too young, at age 16, her immature rattle-brained husband wound up in the penitentiary a year later. For money, she was forced to become a waitress. Bored and poor, she knew life had something more to offer (Geringer 1).
Clyde Chestnut Barrow was born in 1909 in Texas. He stood 5'7", weighed 130 pounds, slicked back his thick brown hair in the style of the day, and parted it on the left. His eye color matched his hair. Women found him attractive. He came into this world as one of many children born to dirt-poor tenant farmer parents barely making a living on the cotton fields of Teleco, Texas. Moving with his parents, brothers and sisters to the Dallas outskirts, where his father ran a gas station (in which the family members crowded as one into a tiny back room), Clyde quickly learned to abhor poverty. Bored and poor, he too knew life had something more to offer (Geringer 1 and 2).
Bonnie and Clyde met in January 1930, and were first linked in crime in a December 1932 automobile theft (Redinger 1). Yet for all their infamy, Bonnie and Clyde were not very efficient thieves. They never seemed to plan; they were more predatory robbers who moved across the countryside and when they ran out of money, they robbed whatever was convenient (Hutton - Biography). This means they took very little money, but it wasn't so much the money that Bonnie and Clyde, especially Clyde, were after. Clyde fancied himself as a modern-day Jesse James. Both Bonnie and Clyde would try not to take innocent lives, killing mostly lawman, and even if they captured a victim, they would usually release them unharmed (Biography).
In April of 1932, Bonnie and Clyde joined up with a friend, Ralph Foltz. After a few weeks of crime, the police caught up with the triad and captured Bonnie and Foltz, but Clyde escaped. While Bonnie spent tiem in jail, Clyde joined up with a new friend named Raymond Hamilton. Both he and Clyde were involved in a robbery in which Clyde committed his first murder. Clyde and Hamilton shot and killed a shopkeeper in Dallas after the robbery didn't go as planned. In June of 1932, Bonnie was acquitted for lack of evidence and was released from jail. She quickly rejoined Clyde and Ray Hamilton. By this time, Clyde was a wanted man and a $250 reward was out for his capture after killing two police officers at a country club (Biography).
The Barrow Gang would always try and keep in touch with their families as much as possible. On one such family visit, Ray Hamilton was captured by the police and sentenced to 264 years in prison, and Clyde vowed to get him out. But the path to nation-wide infamy began in late March of 1933 when Buck Barrow was released from prison. He and his wife, Blanche, made arrangements to meet up with Bonnie and Clyde. For two weeks, the couples lived together in a small apartment near Joplin, Missouri. W.D. Jones, a local neighbor and accomplice of Clyde's, was also with the group. By April, money was running short, and Buck and Clyde began robbing local stores and gas stations. On their way back to the apartments, the police followed Buck and Clyde. The Barrow Gang saw the police at the door and killed the first two officers standing at the door. They escaped, but not without traces of a bloody gun battle left behind. The Barrow Gang were front page news all over the country (Biography).
After terrorizing banks and store owners in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Louisiana, the couples finally tried to settle down in another apartment near Platte City, Missouri. The local authorities got word of the couples living there, and the police totally surrounded them. A fierce gun battle erupted with pistols, automatic rifles, machine guns, etc. Buck was hit by gun fire through the head, but was still conscious. A few more officers were killed as Bonnie and Clyde along with Buck, Blanche, and W.D. Jones escaped. Blanche was also injured in the gun battle as shards of glass got lodged in her eyes. After four days, the couples thought they had escaped, but were quickly surrounded again. Bonnie, Clyde and Jones escaped this time, but left Buck and Blanche behind as authorities arrested Blache and took Buck to a hospital. Buck later died from his injuries and Blanche was sent to prison for 10 years (Biography).
After nursing a few injuries, the couple set out again, continuing to rob banks and terrorizing people wherever they went. W.D. Jones left Bonnie and Clyde, shortly there after, he was captured by police and claimed that he was an unwilling participant in the crime spree. By January of 1934, Bonnie and Clyde set out to free their friend, Ray Hamilton from prison. In the process, Clyde and Hamilton wounded a prison guard and killed another. Four other inmates also escaped; one of those inmates was a man named Henry methphen, but helping Methphen would prove to be a critical mistake by Bonnie and Clyde.
Bonnie and Clyde's last two murders were two state highway patrol officers. These murders outraged the public and lawman vowed to catch the murderous pair. On the morning of May 23, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde were driving down an old country road in Louisiana close to Henry Methphen's father's home. Henry Methphen's father betrayed the pair. Texas rangers waited in the bushes for Bonnie and Clyde; it was a well-organized ambush. Frank Hamer lead in the planned attack. As Bonnie and Clyde drove up to help Methphen's father, the rangers open fired on the couple, killing them instantly with gun fire. They died as they lived...by the gun.
Even though they were buried in separate cemeteries, Bonnie and Clyde's relationship remains embedded in history forever. These notorious murderers knew they were going to be either caught or killed one day, but it did not tear their relationship apart. Their infamous crimes live on in American history.