Barrow and Parker were ambushed and killed on May 23rd, 1934, on a rural road in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.The couple appeared in daylight in an automobile and were shot by a posse of four Texas officers (Frank Hamer, B.M. “Manny” Gault, Bob Alcorn, and Ted Hinton) and two Louisiana officers (Henderson Jordan and Prentiss Morel Oakley).
The posse was led by Hamer who had begun tracking the pair on February 12, 1934. He studied the gang’s movements and found they swung in a circle skirting the edges of five midwestern states, exploiting the “state line” rule that prevented officers from one jurisdiction from pursuing a fugitive into another. Barrow was a master of that pre-FBI rule, but consistent in his movements, so the experienced Hamer charted his path and predicted where he would go. The gang’s itinerary centered on family visits, and they were due to see Methvin’s family in Louisiana.
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On May 21st, 1934, the four posse members from Texas were in Shreveport when they learned that Barrow and Parker were to go to Bienville Parish that evening with Methvin. Barrow had designated the residence of Methvin’s parents as a rendezvous in case they were separated, and Methvin did get separated from the pair in Shreveport. The full posse, consisting of Captain Hamer, Dallas County Sheriff’s Deputies Alcorn and Ted Hinton (both of whom knew Barrow and Parker by sight), former Texas Ranger B.M. “Manny” Gault, Bienville Parish Sheriff Henderson Jordan and his deputy Prentiss Oakley, set up an ambush at the rendezvous point along Louisiana State Highway 154 south of Gibsland toward Sailes. Hinton recounted that their group was in place by 9:00 pm on the 21st and waited through the whole next day (May 22) with no sign of the outlaw couple. Other accounts said the officers set up on the evening of the 22nd.
At approximately 9:15 a.m. on May 23rd, the posse, concealed in the bushes and almost ready to concede defeat, heard Barrow’s stolen Ford V8 approaching at a high speed. The posse’s official report had Barrow stopping to speak with Methvin’s father, who had been planted there with his truck that morning to distract Barrow and force him into the lane closer to the posse. The lawmen opened fire, killing Barrow and Parker while shooting a combined total of about 130 rounds. Oakley fired first, probably before any order to do so. Barrow was killed instantly by Oakley’s initial head shot, but Hinton reported hearing Parker scream as she realized Barrow was dead, before the shooting at her fully began.The officers emptied all their arms at the car. Any one of the many wounds suffered by Bonnie and Clyde would have been fatal.
According to statements made by Ted Hinton and Bob Alcorn:
“Each of us six officers had a shotgun and an automatic rifle and pistols. We opened fire with the automatic rifles. They were emptied before the car got even with us. Then we used shotguns … There was smoke coming from the car, and it looked like it was on fire. After shooting the shotguns, we emptied the pistols at the car, which had passed us and ran into a ditch about 50 yards on down the road. It almost turned over. We kept shooting at the car even after it stopped. We weren’t taking any chances.”
Researchers have said Bonnie and Clyde were shot more than fifty times each;others claim closer to twenty-five wounds per corpse, or fifty total. Officially, parish coroner Dr. J. L. Wade’s 1934 report listed 17 separate entrance wounds on Barrow’s body and 26 on Parker’s, including several headshots on each, and one that had snapped Barrow’s spinal column. Undertaker C. F. “Boots” Bailey had difficulty embalming the bodies because of all the bullet holes.
The temporarily deafened officers inspected the vehicle and discovered an arsenal of weapons, including stolen automatic rifles, sawed-off semi-automatic shotguns, assorted handguns, and several thousand rounds of ammunition, along with 15 sets of license plates from various states.
Word of the ambush quickly got around when Hamer, Jordan, Oakley, and Hinton drove into town to telephone their respective bosses. A crowd soon gathered at the ambush spot. Gault and Alcorn left to guard the bodies, lost control of the jostling curious; one woman cut off bloody locks of Parker’s hair and pieces from her dress, which were subsequently sold as souvenirs. Hinton returned to find a man trying to cut off Barrow’s trigger finger, and was sickened by what was occurring. Arriving at the scene, the coroner said he saw the following:
“… nearly everyone had begun collecting souvenirs such as shell casings, slivers of glass from the shattered car windows, and bloody pieces of clothing from the garments of Bonnie and Clyde. One eager man had opened his pocket knife, and was reaching into the car to cut off Clyde’s left ear.”
The coroner enlisted Hamer for help in controlling the “circus-like atmosphere”, and got people away from the car.
The Ford, with the bodies, was towed to the Conger Furniture Store & funeral parlor in downtown Arcadia. Preliminary embalming was done by Bailey in a small preparation room in the back of the furniture store (it was common for furniture and undertakers to be together).The northwest Louisiana town was estimated to swell in population from 2,000 to 12,000 within hours, with the curious throngs arriving by train, horseback, buggy, and plane. Beer, which normally sold for 15 cents a bottle, jumped to 25 cents; ham sandwiches quickly sold out .After identifying his son’s body, Henry Barrow sat in a rocking chair in the furniture section and wept.
H.D. Darby, a young undertaker who worked for the McClure Funeral Parlor in nearby Ruston, and Sophia Stone, a home demonstration agent also from Ruston, came to Arcadia to identify the bodies.They had been kidnapped by the Barrow gang the previous year in Ruston, on April 27, 1933, and released near Waldo, Arkansas. Parker reportedly had laughed when she asked Darby his profession and discovered he was an undertaker. She remarked that maybe someday he would be working on her. Darby assisted Bailey in embalming the outlaws.