After Bonnie and Clyde's deaths, researchers later found that they both were shot more than 50 times.
They are, perhaps, the most romanticized criminal pair in American history.
Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are often depicted as a young couple in love, carelessly bouncing from one town to the next, robbing banks and being idolized by the media before meeting their untimely death in a dramatic ambush.
They started out as two young kids from Texas — Bonnie as a waitress, Clyde as a laborer — who got swept up in the glamour of the “Public Enemy Era” typified by famous gangsters like John Dillinger.
They quickly made a name for themselves with their crime spree from Texas all the way to Minnesota. Over two years they collected gang members who often took the blame for their crimes or performed murders so they didn’t have to. Many of the grisly crimes attributed to the famous duo were actually pulled off by associates.
For two years they managed to avoid being caught, despite their celebrity status. Clyde was seen as a romanticized version of a rebellious gangster and Bonnie was thought of as his innocent girlfriend, chasing him for love and getting caught up in his lifestyle through no fault of her own.
Then, in May of 1934, their spree came to a whirlwind end worthy of two gangsters with a flair for the dramatic.
In November of 1933, a Dallas grand jury issued a warrant for the arrest of Bonnie and Clyde. One of their gang members, W.D. Jones, had been arrested in Dallas in September and had identified Bonnie and Clyde in several crimes, leading to the warrants.
A few months later, another warrant was issued, this time for the murder of a man in Texas. Though Bonnie was often seen as a bystander in the duo’s crimes, the Texas murders changed that. A farmer, who claimed he had witnessed the murder, grossly exaggerated Bonnie’s part in it, claiming that she had been the one holding the gun and that she had laughed as he died. It is believed now that Bonnie had simply been, as she always was, a bystander.
However, the farmer’s accounts made headlines, and police in Texas offered a $1000 reward for their bodies — not their capture.
Ramping up their efforts, police nationwide spent months searching for the pair, as well as an accomplice named Henry Methvin.
Finally, police in Louisiana got word that the duo was on their way to Bienville Parish. Methvin had family in Bienville Parish, and their home had been designated as a safehouse by Clyde, in case they got separated.
And indeed, during a stop in Shreveport, they had. Methvin had continued to Bienville Parish solo, leaving Bonnie and Clyde to find their way alone.
On the evening of May 21, 1934 a police posse, comprised of six members from Texas and Louisiana police departments, set up an ambush on the main road into Bienville Parish. They enlisted Methvin’s father, whom Bonnie and Clyde were familiar with, to wait on the side of the road as a distraction.
The posse waited for Bonnie and Clyde for the entire night, and the next day and night. Then, as they were nearly giving up, the duo arrived.
At 9:15 AM on May 23, the posse got their first look at Bonnie and Clyde, speeding down the backroad at 85 miles an hour in their now-infamous Ford V8. Upon seeing Methvin’s father parked on the side of the road they pulled over.
Then, before Bonnie or Clyde had time to exit, the police officers opened fire. Clyde was killed instantly by a shot to the head, and one of the officers recounted hearing Bonnie scream as she realized he was dead.
The officers emptied their entire arms into the car, firing 130 rounds in all. After Bonnie and Clyde’s death, researchers have found that they were each shot more than 50 times, even though the official coroner’s report at the time Bonnie sustained 26 and Clyde 17. The undertaker reported that he had difficulty embalming the bodies due to the amount of bullet holes.
The scene of their Bonnie and Clyde’s death quickly descended into chaos, with local looters trying to get a piece of the gangsters before the coroner arrived. One man tried to cut off Clyde’s ear, another took pieces of Bonnie’s bloodstained dress. By the time the authorities came to remove the bodies, there was a growing crowd full of people trying to get in on the action.
Though Bonnie and Clyde had been quite the team in life, in death they were unceremoniously separated. Though they had wished to be buried together, Bonnie’s family wouldn’t allow it. Both are buried in Dallas, Texas in separate cemeteries.
Their famous Ford V8, dubbed the “death car,” made its rounds around the country for years after the Bonnie and Clyde’s deaths. Riddled with bullet holes and bloodstains, it was a popular tourist attraction that was displayed at fairs, amusement parks and flea markets for almost forty years, before it settled at Whiskey Pete’s Hotel and Casino in Primm, Nevada.
Now that you’ve read about Bonnie and Clyde’s death, read about the female gangsters that ruled the underworld of the 1930s. Then, read about three of the most infamous gangsters still in business today.