Today in Texas History – May 20

Identification Order of Bonnie and Clyde in 1934

From the Annals of the Bank Robbers –  In 1933, the United States Commissioner in Dallas issued a warrant for the arrest of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker for interstate transportion a stolen vehicle.  The FBI (then known as the Division of Investigation) became involved in the hunt for the dangerous duo in December 1932 based on the discovery of a Ford automobile which had been stolen in Pawhuska, Oklahoma and abandoned near Jackson, Michigan. The investigation revealed that another stolen vehicle (from Illinois) had been abandoned in Pawhuska near the time of the car theft.  A search of this car turned up a prescription bottle which led special agents to a drug store in Nacogdoches.  Further investigation led to the revelation that the prescription had been filled for Clyde Barrow’s aunt and that she had been recently visited by Barrow, Parker, and Clyde’s brother, L. C. Barrow. It was also discovered that they had been driving the Ford sedan stolen in Illinois.

This was enough evidence to obtain issuance of a federal warrant against Barrow and Parker for interstate transport of a stolen vehicle from Texas to Oklahoma.  For the first time, the FBI became involved in the hunt for the notorious bank robbers and folk legends.

Although glamourized in the ridiculously inaccurate 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, the duo were ruthless criminals who were implicated in at least 13 murders, numerous bank robberies, thefts and in staging a prison escape from the Eastham Prison Farm to free their former gunman Raymond Hamilton in which two guards were shot.

The two would continue their crime spree for another year after issuance of the federal warrant.  On May 23, 1934, acting on information that Barrow and Parker were in the area of Ruston, Louisiana, a posse composed of police officers from Louisiana and Texas, including Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, staged an ambush near Sailes, Louisiana. Barrow and Parker appeared in another stolen car.  The officers opened fire and the saga of Bonnie and Clyde came to a gory end in a hail of bullets.

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