Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are believed to have first met around January of 1930 in Dallas where they both were living. At the time, Clyde was 21 and Bonnie was 19. Clyde was arrested a few weeks later in the latter part of February for the burglary of the Motor Mark Garage in Denton. In early March of 1930, while he was awaiting trial for that burglary, Clyde was transferred to McLennan County in connection with burglary and automobile theft charges there. Barrow was indicted along with William Turner by the McLennan County grand jury for these charges. Clyde pleaded guilty to a number of them, including the theft of an automobile belonging to W. W. Cameron, a Waco lumber dealer. It’s unclear if Barrow had also been sentenced by then, but newspaper accounts say that Turner had been sentenced and was awaiting transfer to the Huntsville prison at the time that Bonnie smuggled a gun into the McLennan County jail. Turner, Barrow and another prisoner named Abernathy were able to escape with the aid of Bonnie Parker and the smuggled gun. Bonnie remained in Waco as the three escapees left Texas, but the trio were captured in Ohio and returned to the state less than two weeks later. Barrow was held a few months before being sent to the Eastham Prison Farm to begin serving a fourteen year sentence. He was paroled in February, 1932 after which he and initially his brother Buck and a number of different associates over time would operate as the Barrow Gang for a little more than two years until he and Bonnie Parker were killed in the ambush is Louisiana in May, 1934.
The gang was accused of at least a dozen deaths, mostly of law enforcement officers but including three citizens, all of whom were killed in 1932. Hillsboro store owner John Napoleon Bucher was the first known victim, killed on the evening of April 30, 1932, a Saturday. Clyde was said to have been known to the family through one of Mrs. Bucher’s sons, though the person named may have actually been a cousin by the name of Harrison Bucher. The Buchers lived in an apartment above the store. Barrow, Ted Rogers, Ralph Fults and another individual known only as “Johnny” (later identified as Johnny Russell elsewhere) decided to try and rob Bucher’s store safe. They called on Bucher after hours on the premise of buying guitar strings. Once inside the store, they attempted to rob Bucher and his wife. Bucher is said to have reached for a handgun he kept in the safe when someone in the gang shot and fatally wounded him. The gang made their escape after recovering an unknown amount of cash. Bucher was sixty-one years old at the time and the father of at least seven children. He is buried in Ridge Park Cemetery in Hillsboro, Texas. Bucher was thought to have been killed by Ted Rogers or Ray Hamilton although the widow of Mr. Bucher identified the shooters to be Clyde and Ray. Hamilton was convicted of the murder and was serving time for it when he and others escaped from the Eastham Prison Farm.
In August, 1932 the gang was responsible for the death of a law officer by the name of Moore in Atoka, Oklahoma. On Monday October 10, 1932, members of the gang were thought to have taken part in a robbery of Little’s Grocery store on the corner of Wells Ave. and Vaden St. in Sherman, Texas. While supposedly buying and paying for meat and eggs, the bandits pulled a pistol and attempted to overpower 35 year old Howard Hall and Homer Glaze, store employees, and rob the cash register. Hall protested and fought with one of the gunmen, was shot three times and died at a local hospital. The shooter attempted also to shoot Glaze, but the gun jammed. The bandits made their escape taking about $50 out of the cash register. To the best of our knowledge, no one was arrested and charged for the crime. Though he denied committing the murder, Clyde Barrow fit the description of the assailant, described as a being a small man of light complexion and being 20 to 25 years old. Hall was married and had at least one child and is buried in West Hill Cemetery in Sherman, Texas. Hall is thought to have been killed by Barrow, though some would say that killing an unarmed man is just not something he would have done. His brother L. C. Barrow happened to be in the Grayson County jail at that time, having been charged with some crime, but by then Clyde was somewhat well known as an outlaw. The reasoning was that due to Clyde’s being wanted, it not likely that he would have risked trying to visit his brother in jail. L. C. was later no-billed by the grand jury and released for lack of evidence.
The next killing attributed to the gang was that of Doyle Johnson, who was from Temple, Texas and had worked as a grocery store clerk. On Sunday, December 25, 1932, Johnson was taking a nap after lunch when his family heard a commotion outside their home. Two men were in the process of stealing Johnson’s Ford Model A roadster. Johnson and others ran outside as the car began to speed away and Johnson jumped on the running board. One of the car thieves shot him and he fell to the street. The car was found abandoned a few blocks away with both doors open. Johnson was taken to Kings Daughters Hospital where he died the following day. An associate by the name of Frank Hardy was arrested for the shooting in June, 1933. Hardy was tried in Belton the following November, but was exonerated. Around that same time, W. D. Jones had been arrested in Dallas and had confessed to taking part in the killing. In connection with the Hardy trial, Dallas authorities cited a fifty page confession that Jones had given in which Jones provided details of the Johnson murder. Johnson was 27 years old and married when he was killed. He is buried in Hillcrest Cemetery in Temple. Johnson is thought to have been killed by Jones, but the witnesses were not sure and even identified Frank Hardy as being involved. Details were difficult to pin town, as Jones’ accounts of the event also were subject to change over time.
What do these three killings have in common? Either the gang was likely to have netted very little cash or they seem to have gotten rattled and abandoned their stolen car. During their relatively short crime spree, Clyde Barrow, Bonnie Parker and various associates also kidnapped and released a number of individuals. In addition, they were connected with the deaths of at least nine law enforcement officers, bringing the total to at least twelve known murders.
Some accounts also include “Big Ed” Crowder who was stabbed to death in prison in October, 1931, presumably killed by Barrow in retaliation for his treatment of Barrow. Others also add the death of Wade McNabb, who was found bludgeoned and shot presumably by another gang member in far East Texas in early April, 1934. Both Crowder and McNabb had been rumored to have abused Barrow while he had been incarcerated at the Eastham facility.
By the time Clyde and Bonnie were killed in Louisiana in May of 1934, they and/or members of the gang were believed to have committed the above murders along with the kidnappings, robberies, car thefts and burglaries. The kidnappings included two individuals in rural Louisiana and released them near Waldo, Texas. Ironically, one of the kidnap victims was undertaker Dillard Darby, who would be among the first to tend to their bodies after they died.
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