Happy Birthday to one of America’s old-timey criminals!

Bonnie Parker, a well-known criminal in the early 1900s, would be celebrating her 121st birthday this year on October 1.

Many people around the world have heard of the infamous duo, Bonnie and Clyde. They were the sensational couple in the 1930’s – wreaking havoc around the Midwest a little less than 100 years ago. The devious pair robbed banks, restaurants, and gas stations throughout many states in North America. Their 21-month crime spree started in 1932 and ended in 1934 with their sudden deaths.

[Photo credit: fbi.gov]

Bonnie and Clyde began their lifestyle of crime by stealing two Ford trucks, starting in December of 1932. This put them both on the police’s radar, which led the law enforcement on a long, harrowing journey in search of the two. The police would search two years for them, and it was said to be the most striking manhunt the world had seen up to that time.


Bonnie Parker was born in Rowena, Texas, in 1910. She was the middle child of two siblings – her older brother, Hubert, and younger sister, Billie. Bonnie was an honor student in school, and she loved reading romance novels and writing poetry. Slightly under five feet tall and only 85 pounds, she hardly seemed the ruthless criminal. She married Roy Thornton at the age of 15, but they would eventually become unhappy. Later in 1929, Thornton was sent to prison for a five-year sentence.

[Image: Bonnie Parker as a child. Photo credit: stayathomemum.com.au]

Bonnie met Clyde Barrow in January of 1930. Soon after, Barrow was sent to prison for burglary. Bonnie smuggled him a pistol, which he used to escape, but he would be recaptured and would serve his time in jail until 1932. Barrow was released in early 1932, reunited with Bonnie, and they began their life of crime together.

[Photo credit: fbi.gov]

At the time they were killed, the culprits were believed to have committed 13 murders, along with many robberies, kidnappings and automobile thefts throughout Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, with multiple offenses in Texas.

Their Lives as Famed Criminals Begin

Bonnie and Clyde weren’t always alone on their journey through North America. Throughout their two-year crime spree, many allies came and went, including Clyde’s brother, Buck, and his wife, Blanche; Ray Hamilton, and W.D. Jones.

[Images: Blanche and Buck Barrow, Ray Hamilton and W.D. Jones]

One night in the summer of 1933, with Clyde driving and Bonnie in the passenger seat, they were speeding along a rural Texas road. He missed a detour sign that warned of a bridge under construction, and they flew through a road barricade at 70 mph, spiraling through the air off of a river embankment several seconds before landing in a ravine near Wellington, Texas. Due to the sudden impact, scorching acid gushed out of the wrecked car battery and onto Bonnie’s right leg, severely burning her. She was treated at a nearby farm, and it was decided that she had third-degree burns and would walk with a limp for the rest of her life. Sometimes, she even needed Clyde to carry her.

Ray Hamilton left their crew several months after tagging along and ended up in jail with more than a 200-year sentence at Eastham State Prison Farm in Waldo, Texas. Bonnie and Clyde broke him out on January 16, 1934, along with 5 other prisoners. The head of the prison system and the governor at the time hired Texas Ranger, Frank Hamer, to track down the devious culprits.

[Image: Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. Photo credit: historynet.com]

Before long, Bonnie and Clyde were seen as high-profile criminals around the world. Texas and Louisiana police’s top priority was to put a stop to their notorious crimes. Police investigators highly suspected the duo to be in Sailes, Louisiana, and they planned a trap for the two. In the early morning of May 23, 1934, police ambushed and killed the two, shooting them as they drove away in a stolen vehicle. A total of 167 bullets were shot, and both Bonnie and Clyde were riddled with bullets. Bonnie was found to have had a sandwich, cigarettes, and a machine gun on her, and Clyde had a revolver at the time of their deaths.

[Image: Bonnie and Clyde’s “death car.” Photo credit: fbi.gov]

The Aftermath

Their bodies were returned to Dallas, Texas, and the stolen car was returned to Louisiana. Thousands viewed the bodies and the car before they were buried in their respective families’ burial plots. Even though the couple wished to be buried together, Bonnie’s mother refused and had them lay separate at different burial sites.

[Image: Bonnie and Clyde’s graves.]

The bullet-ridden ”death car” is currently on display at Whiskey Pete’s Casino in Primm Valley Resorts.

[Image: Bonnie and Clyde’s ”death car” on display at Whiskey Pete’s Casino.]

Bonnie was initially buried in West Dallas’ Fish Trap Cemetery, but due to vandalism, she was moved to her final resting place, Crown Hill Memorial Park in 1945.

“When you’re notorious for committing bank robberies, either people love you or they hate you.”


Works Cited







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