The seventh and eighth law officers to be killed by the Barrow Gang were Texas Highway Patrol motorcycle officers H. D. Murphy (22) and Edward Wheeler (26). At about 3:00 PM on April 1, 1934, they were driving down a lane with another officer, Polk Ivy. Ivy was in the lead and Murphy and Wheeler were trailing some distance behind. The three patrolmen were heading to a rural location to do some target shooting when the incident occurred.
Though his statements have since been called into question, a farmer named William Schieffer stated that he saw a couple which he identified as Bonnie and Clyde about one hundred yards off the roadway having a picnic lunch. They also appeared to be embracing from time to time and walking down to the road (Highway 114), as though they were waiting for someone. Schieffer described the female as being dressed in pants, like the man. Officer Ivy first motored by the couple, Schieffer said, but the next two officers slowed down and stopped, possibly just to see if the couple in the car might need assistance, or perhaps because something looked suspicious. Schieffer said that as the officers approached the car, the couple grabbed guns off the fender of the car and started shooting. The officers were taken by surprise and the couple fired until the patrolmen fell. The couple then approached the fallen officers and shot several more times before returning to their car and fleeing. Schieffer said he then went over to the scene of the shooting, getting there about the same time that Officer Ivy, after he returned to look for his fellow officers. Schieffer’s account, as written up in an Associated Press article the following day, closed with the information that one officer (Wheeler) was still breathing, upon examination, that they hailed a passing car and took him to Grapevine though he later died.
However, Schieffer’s account is discounted for various reasons. Schieffer is said to have stated that he overheard the female (Bonnie) make an offhand remark after one of the officers was shot. Critics say that Schieffer was not close enough to have heard any sort of conversation at that time and the comment attributed to Schieffer was not included in the April 2, 1934 Associated Press article. A United Press article dated April 2, 1934 stated that motorists (Mr. and Mrs. Fred A. Giggal of Dallas) on a nearby highway said that the taller of two killers stood over the fallen officers and emptied a shotgun into their bodies before he and a female then sped away. Some have attributed Schieffer’s motivation to a desire for money and recognition. Schieffer is said to have later changed his story to implicate Floyd Hamilton and Bonnie’s sister Billie Parker Mace for the shootings. Other accounts also variously attribute the killings to Henry Methvin, Ray Hamilton and Clyde Barrow in some combination thereof. The observations of the number of people involved as well as their gender differ. By this time, with all of the possible participants and eyewitnesses having passed away, it is likely not possible to obtain a reliable account of these murders.
The day after the brutal shooting, Governor Miriam A. Ferguson offered a state reward of $500 for the capture “dead or alive” of Clyde Barrow, Ray Hamilton or “other persons who killed Highway Patrolmen, E. B. Wheeler and H. D. Murphy.” In less than two months, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow would be killed. To the best of our knowledge, no one was arrested and tried for the murders of the officers.
(Image credit: findagrave.com)
Officer Edward Bryan Wheeler had been with the Texas Highway Patrol for four years before he was killed. He was married to the former Doris Elizabeth Brown when he died. Office Wheeler is buried in Grove Hill Cemetery in Dallas, Texas. Officer Holloway Daniel Murphy had been with the Highway Patrol for less than a year and was engaged to be married at the time of his death. He is buried in Old Palestine Cemetery in Alto, Cherokee County, Texas. Officer Polk Ivy remained with the Highway Patrol reaching the rank of Sergeant in in 1937 and Captain in 1940. He remained with the Highway Patrol until he was diagnosed with leukemia and passed away in 1953 at the age of 45.
© 2019, all rights reserved.