Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bonnie and Clyde: Romeo and Juliet in a Getaway Car

Beginning Of The End

"Can't you see
I'm no good without you"
All of Me

S. Simons, G. Marks

The narrowing road opened up slightly after a long hiatus of recuperation. They hid out in and near Dallas between August and October, 1933. But matters heated up again after they re-emerged on November 8 to hold up the payroll office of the McMurray Oil Refinery at Arp, Texas.

This crime brought tall, lanky Ted Hinton into the picture, he being a deputy sheriff of Dallas County, in which Arp was located. Hinton was that young policeman who used to stop in Marco's Diner for breakfast mornings back in 1929 and admire Bonnie's good looks from afar. In fact, he had known of the Barrow family, too; he remembered Clyde and Buck as wild boys. Later in life, he wrote a book, Ambush, that records the last couple of months' escapades of Bonnie and Clyde and his pursuit and eventual participation in their downfall. During this time, he categorizes them as "two true lovers" fleeing to infamy almost as if on a suicide pact.

Hinton speaks of an eerie incident in late 1933, while he and fellow deputy, Bob Alcorn, were assigned to track down the couple suspected to be in retreat near Dallas at that same time. He recalls that while Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker still lived, their "families had already been to a funeral home to arrange the burials for (them). This report was in the newspapers, which by now were using their names as if they were convicted of all the crimes attributed to them."

W.D. Jones, who had wanted nothing more to do with the infamous duo, was apprehended in Houston and sent back to Dallas for questioning. Hinton and Alcorn conducted the interrogation. Their director, Sheriff Richard "Smoot" Schmid, demanded that Hinton pull out all stops to arrest Bonnie and Clyde.

Jones cried innocent, claiming that he had been an unwilling accomplice, that Clyde had forced him to come along. Of course, Hinton didn't believe him but did indeed find in him a valuable resource. He ascertained correctly that Jones would be a powerhouse of information about their habits and characteristics, and from them be able to develop a framework of the Clyde Barrow thought process. In doing so, the law might be able to figure out Barrow's next move.

And that process began to gel. Learning that a farmer who lived near rural Sowers Road had earlier reported to Dallas police that he knew of a Barrow family meeting spot a suspicion never investigated Hinton visited the man for details. Several times the farmer had seen a group of people picnicking on an open field beside a disused stretch of road near his property. They seemed to cuddle a lot, and once the farmer saw a pile of guns stacked on the hood of a fancy automobile. There was always a young pretty thing who helped make the sandwiches and serve out the soda pop, he said, just like she was a waitress at one time.

Hinton wondered if any holidays might be forthcoming, celebrations, that might warrant a Barrow rendezvous. He checked the birth dates of the Parker and Barrow family members and discovered that Clyde's mother Cummie had her birthday on November 21, just a few days away. On a hunch, he acted.

Bonnie & Clyde at the picnic just before the law got there, photo by gang member
Bonnie & Clyde at the picnic just before
the law got there, photo by gang member

Surveillance began on the Barrow gas station-homestead, but nothing extraordinary occurred in the actions of its residents. Then, on the 21st, Hinton received a call around dinner time that the Barrows in entirety were loading what appeared to be picnic baskets into their jalopy. The men that Hinton had on call were summoned and told to report to a designated location in West Dallas. From there, in one car, Hinton and the hand-picked detectives rode out to the area indicated by the farmer. Leaving their car on private property, the lawmen hid in the field of tall grass beside the road.

The wait was short. Near dusk, a gray sedan rolled over the horizon and came to a stop about 100 yards past where the detectives lay. Bonnie and Clyde alighted and peered down the road, as if expecting company. Hinton, although he would have liked to have brought his men nearer to them, decided that to wait could imperil the lives of innocent comers. He stood in the tall grass and shouted, "Barrow, surrender in the name of the law!"

Bonnie and Clyde said nothing; but darted for their car. The detectives opened fire, clipping both fugitives in the knees, but not stopping them. Before he jumped in, Clyde drew a machine gun from the front seat and sprayed the rows of grass from whence the shots were coming. The lawmen hit the dirt, Clyde's bullets whining over their heads. When they looked up again, the gray sedan was further down the road, crossing the open plain to disappear from sight.

The discouraging attempt hadn't been a dismal failure. Hinton and the detectives learned one thing that night: You don't give a hands-up to killers like Bonnie and Clyde. You shoot first, then read them their rights.

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