Bonnie and Clyde’s Wild Ride and Gruesome End

By: | Last updated: Apr 20, 2022

Bonnie and Clyde are some of America’s most well-known and infamous bank robbers. The two collided and went on an epic crime spree made for Hollywood.

They couldn’t get away with it forever though, and in the end they met death in a gory fashion, ending their crime spree forever. Read below to learn about their humble beginnings and tragic endings.

From Very Different Beginnings

Both Bonnie and Clyde got their beginnings as two young kids growing up poor in the state of Texas. Bonnie worked as a waitress and Clyde was a laborer.

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Bonnie was known for being studious and a reader of poetry, while Clyde grew up on a farm and had already been arrested for failing to return a rental car.

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Clyde Initially Wanted To Pursue Music

Before becoming the criminal he is known today, Clyde grew up with a love for music. Clyde, who was nicknamed “Bud” when he was young, enjoyed singing and playing the guitar on his farm.

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He even learned how to play the saxophone on his own. Clyde thought about a career in music, but ultimately got influenced at a young age from his older brother and family friends. These bad influences turned him away from music and toward stealing cars instead.

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Bonnie The Poet

Bonnie always had a talent for creative writing. She often wrote poetry and creative stories in schools, then continued with her writing even when in jail.

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RR AUCTION

In 1932, Bonnie landed herself behind bars after getting caught during a hardware store robbery. While in a cell, she wrote ten different odes that she titled, “Poetry from Life’s Other Side.”

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Clyde Was Rejected By The US Navy

When Clyde was a teenager, he tried to enlist in the U.S. Navy. However, he was ultimately rejected and would never end up serving.

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Clyde was rejected for medical purposes due to effects that stayed around after a childhood illness believed to be yellow fever or malaria. Clyde was rather unset about this rejection as he was already set on serving and even had “USN” tattooed on his left arm.

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Bonnie Had a Man Before Clyde

It was love at first sight, nonetheless, when they met through a friend in 1930. Bonnie had already been married only months after turning 16 to another man named Roy (she even had a tattoo of his name on her thigh).

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However, Bonnie realized that Clyde was the man she wanted and never looked back, though she was legally married to Roy until the day she died.

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She Loved Theatrics

Bonnie was a bit of a showman. She loved the theatre and often performed in talent shows and school pageants. Bonnie envisioned her name in lights and her face on the silver screen.

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This famous image of Bonnie is part of a completely stage collection of photographs. Bonnie never smoked, thus posing with the cigar was only for show. This image was found on an undeveloped roll of film after a police raided a Missouri gang’s hideout.

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Bonnie Stuck by His Side While Clyde Takes His First Life

The first time Clyde went to jail, he was still a schoolboy. While there, he ended up beating a fellow inmate to death with a lead pipe for sexually assaulting him. Bonnie waited for Clyde to be released for two years.

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One friend noted that Clyde went from a “schoolboy to a rattlesnake,” and was forever changed by his time in prison.

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While in Prison, Clyde Chopped Off Two Toes

In January 1932, Clyde was caught for robbery and car theft and sentenced to 14 years in a Texas prison. While there, he was experiencing some brutal conditions at Eastham Prison Farm

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Wikimedia Commons

In a tactic to get transferred to a hopefully less rough facility, Clyde decided to chop off two of his toes with an axe. However, this action became quite unnecessary as six days later he was released on parole.

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Life on the Run

Soon after Clyde got out of prison, the two began committing several robberies as s dynamic criminal team. Clyde’s crimes began to escalate when one of their accomplices in a store robbery killed a store owner in 1932.

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www.texashistory.com

Clyde decided to go on the run, and he took Bonnie along with him.

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Bank Robberies Weren't Their Main Goals

When we think about Bonnie and Clyde, we often imagine them as expert bank robbers who stole from high and mighty financial institutes at the time of the Great Depression.

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However, this was not the case. The dynamic duo instead planned their robberies on smaller business, grocery stores, gas stations, and other mom-and-pop shops. In one job they often only stole an amount of $5 to $10 in total.

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Dallas Gas Station Linked to Bonnie and Clyde

An old gas station in West Dallas, Texas has recently been determined to be connected to Bonnie and Clyde. Clyde’s father actually used to own the old station.

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Dallas Public Library / Dallas History & Archives Division

When a local purchased the building, he had every intention to get rid of it or demolish it, but a recent vote by 14 to 1 shows that the Landmark Commission wants to instead preserve it as a historical landmark.

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They Became Media Darlings

The press ate up Bonnie and Clyde’s harrowing and illegal escapades, which put an even bigger target on their backs when it came to the police. As they tore through the country, authorities wanted the twosome from Texas to Minnesota.

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The press portrayed Clyde as a rebellious hoodlum and Bonnie as a lovestruck partner in crime.

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Infamy Has Its Costs

By 1933, the two were evolved in their life of crime. They famously had a shootout in Joplin, Missouri which left two officers dead.

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Source: PBS

An investigation of the crime scene turned up a camera full of photos of the two that ran in newspapers across the country.

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The 1933 Car Accident

On June 10, 1933 Bonnie and Clyde got in a rather rough car accident. Clyde was speeding in north Texas and missed an important construction sign that warned of bridge construction ahead.

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Clyde ended up smashing his car going 70 mph into a construction barricade. Their car then when airborne before landing in a dried up riverbed.

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Bonnie Had a Limp After The Accident

When the car landed, acid from the car’s destroyed battery ended up splashing on Bonnie’s right leg resulting in third degree burns.

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After the accident, Bonnie walked with a limp and really struggled with walking. She needed Clyde to carry her around at times.

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Passing Secret Messages To Their Families

Despite one’s perception of criminals, Bonnie and Clyde still were very connected to their families and frequently visited them in between sprees.

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To pass messages along to his family, Clyde would tie secret messages to a Coca-Cola bottle, speed past his family’s home, then throw the bottle out the window. His parents would find the bottle which would have directions on where to meet up with the outlaws.

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Their Families Were Actually Very Helpful

Though their families didn’t necessarily approve of their actions, they were willing to speak in code with the couple over the fun and constantly arrange meetings.

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Credit: John Neal Phillips, Personal Collection

Bonnie and Clyde often shared their riches with their families. In return, if the couple was ever in trouble, their families helped them during their struggled with new clothes and some money.

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Clyde's Family Members Experienced Jail Time

Eventually, the help that Clyde constantly received from his family members got out. A few members of the Barrow family ended up with jail sentences.

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These sentences were relatively short, but they ultimately got caught for aiding and abetting the infamous criminal.

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A Trail of Bodies

After two years on the road, robbing and running, the two left an estimated 13 people dead in their wake. The number is a guess according to the FBI and historians, who tried to piece it all together. However, the only people who really know for sure could never say.

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Bonnie and Clyde had a horrendous fate waiting for them which would silence them forever.

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A Brutal End

The heat was on and police had issued a $1,000 reward for their bodies, not their capture.

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On the night of May 21st, 1934, six police officers from Texas and Louisiana planned an ambush against the notorious bank robbers. The police attacked them on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

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Police Used a Friend as Bait

Police enlisted a man the two knew to wait on the side of the road as bait. The two slowed to see what he was doing on the side of the road and police open fired. Clyde was killed instantly through a shot to the head.

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One officer recounted hearing Bonnie scream when Clyde was hit. Police kept firing, about 130 rounds. When the smoke cleared, the two were dead. Bonnie was 23 years old, Clyde was 24.

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Souvenir Hunters Showed Up at the Scene

With a criminal duo so infamous and well known in the media, their passing attracted just as much if not more attention than their crime sprees.

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Souvenir hunters showed up to the scene in an attempt to collect memorabilia from the criminals. One man even tried to cut off Clyde’s ear as a souvenir. Another ended up collecting a small lock of hair from Bonnie.

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Returning the Infamous Car To Its Owner

After Bonnie and Clyde’s passing, one of the Louisiana police wanted to take the “Death Car” for himself. However, a federal judge ruled otherwise.

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He ruled that the Ford V-8 sedan Bonnie and Clyde stole should be given back to its true owner, despite being riddled with bullet holes now. The owner of the car was a Kansas man named Ruth Warren.

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Touring With The "Death Car"

Ruth Warren ended up selling the vehicle to Charles Stanley who was a touring lecturer against crime. Stanley would tour around different cities with the bullet-riddled car and the mothers of both Bonnie and Clyde.

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Jeffcoat Studio Museum

He would charge a fee for visitors to see the infamous automobile. This ultimately led to other fraudulent scammers to pop up as 5 replicas were created and advertised as the real car.

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You Can Go See The Car Today

The car shuffled through many different hands and museums over the years. Even the fake versions of the car have been displayed in different car museums and even used by Warner Bros for their 1967 Bonnie and Clyde film.

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Today, the real version of the infamous vehicle is on display in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can find it at Whiskey Pete’s Resort and Casino.

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Bonnie's Mother Ensured The Two Were Buried Apart

The pair of star-crossed lovers were together through it all and wished to be buried together once passed. However, Bonnie’s mother had other thoughts.

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Bonnie’s mom had always disapproved of Clyde and thus made sure that her daughter was buried in a separate Dallas cemetery from Clyde.

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