Spotlight on History – Bonnie and Clyde – 80 years ago May 23, 1934

May 23, 1934

The notorious Depression Era gangster duo, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, were killed in ambush near Sailes, Bienville Parish, Louisiana by a posse of police officers from Louisiana and Texas, which included Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.

Bonnie and Clyde

Brief History


Bonnie and Clyde met in Texas in January, 1930. Bonnie was 19 and married to an imprisoned murderer. Clyde was 21 and unmarried.

Mayhem begins

Not long after they met, Clyde went to jail on a burglary charge, escaped by using a gun Bonnie smuggled to him, was recaptured, and sent back to prison. Paroled in February 1932, Clyde rejoined Bonnie, and they took up a life of crime together.

Crime spree

While early charges were for automobile theft, they were soon suspected of other crimes. It is thought they committed 13 murders, along with many robberies and burglaries that sometimes netted them only $5 or $10.

As their reputations grew, people reported seeing them all over the Texas-New Mexico-Oklahoma-Missouri areas, which linked them to all sorts of bank robberies, automobile thefts, kidnappings, and murders.

Some of the crimes (allegedly) attributed to them, jointly and separately, are: (as reported by the FBI in the url link below)

  • Murdering two police officers at Joplin, Missouri
  • Kidnapping a man and a woman in rural Louisiana and releasing them later near Waldo, Texas
  • Murdering a man at Hillsboro, Texas
  • Committing robberies at Lufkin and Dallas, Texas
  • Murdering one sheriff and wounding another at Stringtown, Oklahoma
  • Kidnapping a deputy at Carlsbad, New Mexico
  • Stealing an automobile at Victoria, Texas
  • Attempting to murder a deputy at Wharton, Texas
  • Committing murder and robbery at Abilene and Sherman, Texas
  • Committing murder at Dallas, Texas
  • Abducting a sheriff and the chief of police at Wellington, Texas
  • Committing murder at Joplin and Columbia, Missouri
  • …and the list goes on

Bureau of Investigation involvement

On May 20, 1933, in a warrant originated by the United States Commissioner out of Dallas, Texas, the charge of interstate transportation, from Dallas to Oklahoma, of an automobile stolen in Illinois started the BOI’s (now FBI) hunt for them.


Some called them American Robin Hoods who ‘robbed from the rich and gave to the poor’. Others said they were two-bit thieves who often robbed mom-and-pop stores just because they could. Either way, Bonnie and Clyde went down in history as “one of the most colorful and spectacular manhunts of all time*”.

Watch Merle Haggard on YouTube sing the Legend of Bonnie and Clyde

For more details about Bonnie and Clyde, visit the *FBI website –

To read an interesting list of 10 Things You May Not Know About Bonnie and Clyde, visit the website –

Until next time,