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Famous Texans Bonnie Parker

Bonnie Parker was the female half of the notorious crime duo, Bonnie and Clyde. She was born on October 1, 1910, in Rowena, Texas. She and partner Clyde Barrow died in a hail of machine gun fire from law enforcement officers on May 23, 1934.

Her father was a bricklayer. When he died in 1914, Bonnie's mother, Emma Parker, moved her, along with her older brother Hubert and younger sister Billie, to the West Dallas community of "Cement City." In school Bonnie was an honor student. When she was sixteen, she married childhood sweetheart Roy Thornton. Though it was a troubled marriage, they did not divorce, even after Thornton was sentenced to five years in prison in 1929. Parker had a tattoo above her right knee that said "Roy and Bonnie".

In November of that same year, the Dallas café where Bonnie worked closed. She met Barrow in January 1930 and they began their romance. He was jailed in March but escaped using a pistol Bonnie smuggled past the guards. The next month he was captured and sent to a prison farm in Crockett, Texas. He was paroled in February 1932 and he and Bonnie began their reign of terror.

They robbed grocery stores, filling stations, and small banks. One robbery attempt failed in March 1932, allowing authorities to capture Bonnie. She was jailed in Kaufman, Texas, but released in June when the grand jury no-billed her.

Reunited, Bonnie and Clyde continued their murderous crime spree throughout Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Missouri. Law enforcement initiated a massive, but unsuccessful, manhunt.

They narrowly escaped a police raid on their hideout in Joplin, Missouri, where they were staying with Barrow's brother and sister­in­law. The shootout resulted in the death of two more policemen. Recovered from the hideout were six rolls of film containing the now-famous photographs of the criminal couple.

Their murders, robberies and narrow escapes continued through 1933. Clyde's brother was killed in a shootout in Platte City, Missouri, and his sister-in-law was captured. In January 1934, Parker and Barrow made a daring machine gun raid on Eastham Farm prison to release Raymond Hamilton. One guard was killed.

By the time of the jailbreak, former Texas Ranger Captain Francis (Frank) Hamerqv and his associates had begun to track Bonnie and Clyde. On Easter Sunday, 1934, near Grapevine, Texas, two highway patrolmen unwittingly stopped to check on the wanted couple's car, which was stopped by the side of the road. She and Clyde opened fire on the officers and Bonnie, according to witnesses, walked over to one of the officers, rolled him over with her foot and fired her sawed­off shotgun at the officer's head. She then reportedly said, "look-a-there, his head bounced just like a rubber ball."

On May 23, 1934, Bonnie and Clyde met their own violent end in an ambush near their latest hide-out in Black Lake, Louisiana. At 9:15 AM, officers waiting for their car on a roadside riddled them with bullets. Their bodies were publicly displayed in Dallas before being buried in their respective family's burial sites.

Bibliography: "PARKER, BONNIE." The Handbook of Texas Online. <http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/view/PP/fpa17.html>