Bonnie and Clyde in March 1933 in a photo found by police at the Joplin, Missouri hideout.

Bonnie Elizabeth Parker (1910-1934) was famously known as one half of Bonnie and Clyde, the American duo whose criminal activity and relationship during the Great Depression has been highly romanticised.

Bonnie met Clyde Barrow when she was just 19. She was already married when she met him, having married when she was 16. At the time she met Clyde, her husband was serving time for murder. Soon after their initial meeting Clyde was imprisoned for robbery. Bonnie visited him every day, and managed to smuggle in a gun to help his escape. He was soon caught and sent back to prison. When he was finally given parole he joined Bonnie, and together they started a life of crime.

Their crimes were usually related to robbery of some kind.They ranged across 5 states in America: Missouri, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. Bonnie and Clyde were part of a larger gang that included Raymond Hamilton, W. D. Jones, Henry Methvin, and Clyde’s brother and sister-in-law Buck and Blanche Barrow. The gang was responsible for 13 deaths, including 9 policemen.

While Bonnie was depicted in the media as a gun toting killer and was present with the Barrow Gang at over 100 felonies, it is not known whether this is accurate. When W. D. Jones was testifying, he claimed he couldn’t remember ever seeing her shoot at a policeman. Whether she enjoyed the violence as much as the rest of gang (even if she didn’t partake in the actual violence) or whether she was there because of her love for Clyde, she was still a willing participant in the crime spree of the Barrow gang.

Bonnie and Clyde’s life of crime didn’t last long; they were killed in a police ambush in Louisiana on 23 May 1934. The group of policemen were led by Frank Harmer (a Texan), who had been tracking the group’s movements. He knew they flitted around state borders to prevent officers from pursuing them in states out of the officers’ jurisdiction. Harmer, along with 5 other policeman, waited in ambush, when Bonnie and Clyde came along in their stolen car. Methvin’s father was there waiting to distract them and the 6 policemen took aim at the couple. There are different stories as to how many bullet wounds they suffered, but it seems to have been around 50 in total. Bonnie died at the age of 24, but it seemed the couple always knew they were living on a knife edge.

-Danielle Triggs
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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