4/28/2008

Woman of the week - Bonnie Parker

Name: Bonnie Elizabeth Parker
Born: October 1, 1910, Rowena, Texas
Dead: May 23, 1934, Bienville Parish, Louisiana
Married to: Roy Thornton
Children: None
Occupation: Criminal

Bonnie Parker is most famous as the female half of the pairing 'Bonnie and Clyde' that committed a whole series of serious crimes in the US during the depression of the early 1930's.

Bonnie Parker was born into a world of poverty right from the start. Her father passed away when she was just four and her mother moved herself and the three children to West Dallas. In spite of having the odds against her, Bonnie was actually quite good in school. She was an honour roll student at the high school and excelled in creative writing.

This all came to nothing and instead she married Roy Thornton on September 25, 1926 - which means she was not even 16 at the time. The marriage did not last long, by 1929 they had separated - but they were never formally divorced and she was still wearing her wedding-ring at her death. When she met Clyde her husband was in prison for murder.

Clyde Barrow (born in 1909) met Bonnie in 1930 - according to legend while she was working as a waitress, but that is probably not true - probably through friends and coincidence. Soon after that he was sent to jail for burglary. He escaped, using a gun that Bonnie had smuggled to him, but he was recaptured. He was paroled in 1932 and returned to Bonnie. That was the beginning of a tour in crime that would go down in the history-books.

It was actually not just the two of them, but it was a gang (The Barrow gang), that among others included Clyde's brother. But in less than a year all the other members of the gang had been apprehended and the couple continued on their own. And the list of crimes they were suspected of having committed grew longer. According to the FBI Clyde "was suspected of murdering two police officers at Joplin, Missouri, and kidnaping a man and a woman in rural Louisiana. He released them near Waldo, Texas. Numerous sightings followed, linking this pair with bank robberies and automobile thefts. Clyde allegedly murdered a man at Hillsboro, Texas; committed robberies at Lufkin and Dallas, Texas; murdered one sheriff and wounded another at Stringtown, Oklahoma; kidnaped a deputy at Carlsbad, New Mexico; stole an automobile at Victoria, Texas; attempted to murder a deputy at Wharton, Texas; committed murder and robbery at Abilene and Sherman, Texas; committed murder at Dallas, Texas; abducted a sheriff and the chief of police at Wellington, Texas; and committed murder at Joplin and Columbia, Missouri.".

The list of Bonnie's crime was shorter, there is for example no proof of her ever having killed anyone. But that did not mean she was not in every way an accomplice who did everything she could to help her man. And she paid the price for it. They were ambushed on a desolated road in Louisiana by a group of policemen without any prior warning and gunned down. They both died on the spot.

The photo of Bonnie Parker comes from a role of film found by the police at one of the locations the gang had stayed at - and contained almost all of the famous pictures of the two of them.

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