The Real Reason For Bonnie And Clyde's Crime Rampage

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Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were perhaps the most romanticized pair of famous criminals in American history. By most accounts, the two met in January 1930 at a mutual friend's home in Dallas, Texas, when Parker was 19 and Barrow was 20. The two were smitten immediately and would spend the next four years together. Of which, the last two years were consumed with bouncing from one town to the next, committing robberies, and becoming media darlings in the process.

But the glamorous portrayal of Bonnie and Clyde acting as happy and young Robin Hood-types in newspapers and on radio across the country didn't capture the reality of the two. Although they did rob banks for a decent payout on occasion (about $25,000 in 2020 dollars), most of the time they knocked over mom-and-pop shops for $5 or $10. And sometimes their ineptitude for profitable crime left them cracking open gumball machines for loose change, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Their lack of cash kept them on the run and the need to commit more crimes. It was a spiral that they could never find their way out of.

The beginning of the end for Bonnie and Clyde

In November 1933, a Dallas grand jury issued a warrant for the arrest of Bonnie and Clyde after one of their accomplices was arrested and identified the two as perpetrators of several crimes. For months, Bonnie and Clyde evaded law enforcement by staying one step ahead, and, on more than one occasion, slipping out the back and speeding away. That came to an end on May 23, 1934, when a six-man posse led by a former Texas Ranger ambushed Bonnie and Clyde in Louisiana, pumping more than 130 rounds of bullets into their stolen Ford V-8, according to As many as 50 bullets entered each of their bodies.

With dozens of robberies and 13 murders to their name, Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree had come to an end, their bodies lifeless in the front seat. Witnesses tried to get their own pieces of Bonnie and Clyde history, as one man tried to cut off Clyde's ear and another tried to hack off his trigger finger, according to Jeff Guinn's book, Go Down Together. Some tried to snip off some of Bonnie's hair and her blood-drenched dress. Today, the bullet riddled Ford V-8 (the "death car," as it's known) sits as an attraction in the lobby of Whiskey Pete's Casino in Primm, Nevada, 40 miles south of Las Vegas.