A photo of outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow who went on a multi-state crime spree before being killed in a police ambush in 1934. Credit: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, NYWT&S Collection. Reproduction number:LC-USZ62-134474

“You have read the story of Jesse James,
Of how he lived and died. 
If you are still in need of something to read
Here is the story of Bonnie and Clyde.”

Bonnie Parker 

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker, 19, and Clyde Chestnut Barrow, 21, met in West Dallas at a friend’s house in January 1930. 

Their life of crime and passion would begin when Clyde was jailed for burglary, and Bonnie helped him escape by smuggling him a gun during one of her visits.  Although Clyde was recaptured and sent back to jail, he was paroled in February 1932 when he rejoined Bonnie and took to the road to begin their 21-month crime spree.

United by poverty, a need to escape economic depression, and their belief, according to Bonnie’s poem sent to the press, of never being free, Bonnie and Clyde would commit multiple crimes, including bank, gas station, funeral home, and restaurant robberies, police murders, and kidnappings throughout Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arkansas, and Missouri. 

A stolen 1932 Ford V-8 B-400 convertible coupe, driven by Bonnie and Clyde, sits in a ditch by the side of the road after they were ambushed by lawmen on May 23, 1934. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

One of their most notable crimes occurred in January 1934 when the couple orchestrated a jailbreak at  Eastham Prison Farm in Houston County, Texas, as a form of revenge for Clyde’s jail time served. 

The Parker-Barrow criminal enterprise eventually grew to include Clyde’s brother, Marvin “Buck” Barrow, Clyde’s sister-in-law, Blanche Barrow, and five others, dubbing themselves the Barrow Gang. 

Although they successfully escaped police capture multiple times, on May 23, 1934, the FBI, joined by local law enforcement from Louisiana and Texas, ambushed Bonnie and Clyde on Louisiana State Highway 154 in Bienville Parish. The officers fired about 130 rounds into the moving car, killing them both. 

Their love story and crime spree fascinated tens of thousands of people who reportedly traveled far and wide to view their bodies which lay at two separate funeral homes, despite wanting to be buried side by side. 

Even today, the criminal love story has captured the attention and adoration of millions, having been adapted into several movies, songs, musicals, and books worldwide. 

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Shannon Stecker is a creative writer, a marketing director, and a lover of stories. She has spent the past 15 years of her career in a creative space – as a print and broadcast journalist, a freelance...