Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Bonnie and Clyde: Romeo and Juliet in a Getaway Car

Bonnie Participates

"So they forget the broken dreams.
You laugh tonight and cry tomorrow
When you behold your scattered schemes"
Boulevard of Broken Dreams

J. Garver

Taking part in her first criminal act with Clyde had been thrilling to Bonnie, but the joyride she anticipated went flat. The night started out exciting, robbing that hardware store directly across the street from the Kauffman town courthouse. She served as lookout as Clyde, Hamilton and Fults skipped around back to break in through the alley door; she saw their weapons in their hand as they each, one at a time, emerged from the car. Clyde commandeered their moves with the ease of a ship's weathered captain. He seemed in total control of the nervous others and his masculinity tingled her. While she waited out front, she sensed a new emotion never felt before, a power that comes in breaking an ordained law set on high.

But, then she heard the alarm.

A night-watchman inside the store had spotted the trio at the cash register and set off the discordance. Clyde, this time appearing less controlled, darted through the front door; he motioned Bonnie into the car quickly! Behind him, carrying respective sacks of money, Fults and Hamilton resembling Keystone Kops more than burglars, nearly tripped over the threshold. Clyde ripped the car away from the curb. The men were silent, withdrawn. At the wheel, Clyde continued to check the rear-view mirror. No one spoke until the car had cleared the streetlights of town. Clyde's voice had turned cold. "Bonnie, get out!" he told her, cramming a wad of stolen greenbacks into her purse while slamming the car into a brake. "I don't want you involved! Get a room for the night and take the bus back to Dallas in the morning!" She opened her mouth to protest, but he practically pushed her out the door to the curb. "But, Clyde" she began, and trailed off dumbly as the amber lights of their stolen Buick disappeared into the night.

Realizing why Clyde had ejected her, and appreciating his intentions, she nevertheless felt somehow humiliated as she walked back into the village, squad cars answering the clanging at the hardware store. She felt like the tomboy who wanted to play stickball, but the boys didn't want her because she was a girl.

Clyde, Hamilton and Fults split up further out of town and laid low in separate hideaways. Having made his own way to Hillsboro, Clyde planned another robbery there; the Kauffman job had been a bust, yielding little harvest. He needed cash. When reconvening with Hamilton after several days, he learned that Fults had been apprehended. Which meant that they might be next. Time had come to skedaddle, but not before withdrawing some share of their troubles from a local shop. Clyde and Hamilton chose what looked like a prosperous grocer's, that owned and operated by John and Martha Bucher. It looked like a breeze.

On the evening of April 30, Clyde and Hamilton awoke the grocer and his wife from bed, demanding that they open the storeroom safe. As Bucher meekly tumbled the lock of the safe, Hamilton's revolver poking his cheek, Clyde stood back with Mrs. Bucher in toe. As Bucher pushed open the iron door of the safe, the edge of it jerked Hamilton's outstretched pistol hand. The gun popped. The grocer grabbed his chest, rattled and fell face downward to the floor. His wife screamed. Again, their task fumbled, the robbers grabbed but a handful of money and escaped.

Ray Hamilton's mug shot
Ray Hamilton's mug shot

Unlike the Kauffman experience, they couldn't wipe this blunder off as a close call. In the space of a second both men had escalated from thievery to murder, and became wanted fugitives. Tugging the steering wheel to careen around Hillsboro's street corners, finding the nearest way out of town, Clyde pondered what this would mean now to the plans he had for he and Bonnie. Would he ever see her again? And if so, what kind of a life could he offer her on a chronic run?

Mrs. Bucher identified Clyde's and Hamilton's photos from a file of mug shots shown her by the local authorities. State and city police badgered the Barrows for information on their son's whereabouts; their vehicles circled their property night and day.

Little did they realize that Clyde had come and gone, having reached Dallas the night of the murder and having fled shortly thereafter. Admitting to his sister Nell the reason for his flight, he added, "I'm just going on 'til they get me. Then I'm out like Lottie's eye."

He had made a choice and opened the same choice to Bonnie. She could join him or remain behind. The summer months were coming to the Southwest, he asserted, and all that awaited her if she came along would be jumping in and out of stifling autos, hiding in clammy backwoods, and maybe dodging the heat of a hundred roadblocks. He hadn't wanted her implicated thus the reason for his dumping her off in Kauffman but, now he wasn't too blasted sure he could just turn his back on her maybe forever. She responded with a smile and an embrace. She then jotted a message to her mother; and, packing a few minor articles, promised to remain at his side till the end of the road.

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