Bonnie and Clyde
The term Spree Murders is defined as involved killings at two or more locations
with almost no time break between murders (Schmalleger, 41). Bonnie and
Clyde are the classic of all criminals in my opinion and are the main study
of this review on Spree Murders. In a small farm outside of Dallas, Texas
on March 24, 1909, Clyde Champion Barrow was born. Being from a poor family
of eight his parents sent their children away to different family members
in surrounding areas. This separation created much neglect and anti-social
behavior in Clyde that caused him to be classified as a psychopathic.
first criminal act on record was a robbery attempt in 1929. Along with
his brother, Buck, and other friends, they stole a safe. However this attempt
was foiled in part by the bad driving of Clyde that caught the attention
of local police officers on patrol. Clyde than wrecked the car and escaped
(Honcshell, 87). His Brother Buck however was shot, arrested and sentenced
to serve five years in the state penitentiary. Clyde’s first experience
with Bonnie Parker was when he escaped from jail and went to see her over
in western Texas on the date of January 1930.
A year younger than Clyde, Bonnie was described as a “mischievous high
spirited child that grew up in a seemingly normal atmosphere” (Honcshell,
88). Her mother was very dear to her and had problems being away from her
at long periods of time. Bonnie was also known for violent behavior and
often got into fights as a high school student. Despite all these clues
of criminal behavior, she still displayed normal tendencies toward society.
She was married to a boy by the name of Roy Thornton at the age of sixteen.
Problems in the marriage arouse when Bonnie’s husband would leave for long
periods of time. This would not sit well with bonnie and she would end
of leaving him in the spring of 1929.
In January of 1930 Bonnie visited a girlfriends house to help with some
medical complications. This is the first time She meet Clyde and from there
on in the were inseparable. Clyde was then caught and taken to jail after
Bonnie took him home to meet her mother. Clyde was released from Jail in
1932, returned to Dallas to see his family and of course Bonnie. Clyde
made an honest attempt to settle down and go down the strait and narrow
path, but it only lasted for a short while. The restrictions of society
were too much for Clyde to bear, and from there started the Barrow gang,
otherwise known as Bonnie and Clyde; it lasted for approximately two years.
The group’s first criminal act was just as disastrous as Clyde first
attempt with his brother. They tried and rob a small town store outside
of Dallas; Bonnie was captured and held from March till June in 1932. Due
to not enough evidence presented against Bonnie, she was released. After
her release she joined up with Clyde and his life of crime for good. The
first successful attempt at robbery was also Clyde’s first murder. In April
of 1932 the gang held up a general store. Clyde then shot the owner after
he was opening the safe to make change. They got away with two thousand
dollars in diamonds and fifteen dollars cash. These hit and run robberies
were common to Bonnie and Clyde.
The group was unstable, losing and gaining members throughout history,
and they had to hold up shops and steal cars to get by. They would go weeks
on one robbery, but as soon as money would get low the gang would think
of another place to rob. This is typical of spree criminals, same criminal
act in two or more different locations. One of Barrow gang’s famous shootouts
was in a local Missouri town by the name of Joplin. Bonnie and Clyde had
been on the run by this time for about a year and were working there way
into stardom when Clyde’s brother, buck, asked to have a reunion type of
meeting to talk about turning themselves in. Buck was now married and had
served his time for his priors with Clyde.
Bonnie and Clyde agreed to this meeting shortly after robbing the Oranogo
bank in Carthage, Missouri. The group did some relaxing and visiting amongst
family, sharing stories and adventures experienced by the two brothers.
This quiet life continued for about two weeks till money started to get
tight. The increase activity in the apartment drew attention to the group
by one of the neighbors. More specifically, one neighbor noticed that different
license plates were being used on the same car and reported this to the
highway patrol (wood, 44). Two patrol officers were dispatched to the apartment
site. They found that the plates were under the name of Barrow, while the
apartment was under the name of Callahan. Officers on site made the assumption
that the tenants in the apartment were either bootleggers or burglars.
Calling for back up from the Joplin police department, a warrant was
issued to allow the officers to investigate. Unknown to them was the fact
of who they were up against, Bonnie and Clyde. Clyde was the first to spot
the police and to also start shooting. The rest of the gang fallowed Clyde’s
lead and positioned them selves around the apartment shooting at the police.
The entire shootout lasted approximately ten minutes, but in the middle
of the firefight, two policemen were killed. The gang, which had picked
up two new members, escaped with only minor injuries and fled through Seneca
heading toward Texas. During this time the FBI was coming up with a plan
of capture for these notorious criminals. Previous attempts at capture
were unsuccessful but the bureau was limiting the places the gang could
hide out. Bonnie and Clyde were becoming too well known by the public.
Pictures and articles on the two lovers made the idea of bank robbery an
adventure to good to pass up. Along with becoming famous also came the
higher risk of getting caught. The group was at the point of sleeping in
cars they had stolen just to remain undiscovered. One such incident caused
the capture on Bucks wife, blanch, and the death of Buck himself. It occurred
in Dexter, Iowa, the gang was taking a break from being on the road when
a farmer noticed them and reported it to the local sheriff.
The group was ambushed with a wave of ammunition. Everyone had injuries,
but Bonnie and Clyde still found a way to escape. Buck was shot in the
head, and his wife was pried from his dying body and hauled away to jail.
Blanch was sentenced to ten years in the state pen. The barrow gang was
just now Bonnie and Clyde. The end was growing closer and closer. Some
say Bonnie and Clyde new their doom was coming because Bonnie used to write
about it in poems she wrote. The ambush set up by the FBI was to take place
on an open search of highway outside the city limits of Sailes, Louisiana.
In the early morning hours the unsuspecting pair stopped to help a friend
that looked as if they had gotten a flat tire. As soon as Clyde got out
of the car Bonnie noticed someone in the woods and screamed. This caused
the police officers and Texas Rangers, which were hidden in the woods,
to open fire on Bonnie and Clyde.
The pair that had been building such a reputation as notorious outlaws
were killed instantly. After the brave and successful actions taken in
part of the Rangers and Other law officials, a local officer from Joplin,
Missouri wrote a letter of appreciation and congratulations on behalf of
the Joplin police offices and the family members of the two Joplin officers
that were slain by the two criminals.
Bibliography · Schmallenger, Frank. Criminal Justice Today Sixth
Edition. A Simon & Schuster Company. Upper Saddle River. United States
of America. 2001 · Honschell, Jim. Lawmen and Outlaws 116 Years
in Joplin History. Published in Cooperation with The Fraternal Order of
Police Lodge #27. Walsworth Publishing Company, Inc. USA. 45-48 and 87-89.
1989 · Wood, Larry. The Ozark Mountaineer. January/February 1991.
USA. 43-44. 1991. · Draper, W.R. and Mabel. The Blood-Soaked Career
of Bonnie Parker. E. Haldman-julius Publishers. USA. 1946 · Your
FBI – History – Famous Cases – “Bonnie and Clyde”. www.fbi.gov/yourfbi/history/famouscases/clyde/clyde.htm.
November 2, 2000
Used with permission