Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Keyword Question-- Why Couldn't the Police Catch Bonnie & Clyde??

When logging into the B&C History Blog, often those who visit here-- will have entered B&C key words or questions into their search engines. As I am aware of these inquiries, I thought it might be good to answer some of these keyword questions.

Why Couldn't the Police Catch Bonnie & Clyde??

Clyde's movements were many, haphazard and seemingly without rhyme or reason. The newly released Dallas FBI files on B&C-- finally provide us with insights into the secret travels of The Barrow Gang. In an FBI report dated March 29th, 1934-- FBI Agents recount the details of an interview conducted with a recently re-captured Hilton Bybee. Within this interview, Bybee tells of the enlarged Barrow Gang's movements after the Eastham Prison Farm break. In just a short period from January 16th, 1934, until the time Bybee split from the Barrow Gang, and was re-captured in Amarillo, TX-- apparently the Gang had traveled to the following locations: Hillsboro-- Grapevine-- Rhome-- Dallas-- Wichita Falls-- Vernon, OK-- back to Texas to rob a bank-- Frisco, McKenney, Hugo, back to Frisco, DeQueen, AR-- Ft. Smith-- back to OK-- Joplin, MO-- Texarcana-- then to Shreveport, LA-- Fulton-- Marshall-- Dallas-- Decatur-- then to west of Alvarado near Rhome again-- back to Wichita Falls-- Electra-- Vernon-- headed for Lubbock, but changed their minds-- Vernon-- back to Joplin-- Pittsburg, Kansas-- then headed back toward Lubbock-- where the larger group split into 2 groups. At this point Bybee heads to Vinita, and is captured at Amarillo. That's "a lot" of movement in a short time, which included inexplicable movements and apparent instances of doubling back. Now "that's" an insightful document, which reveals new information re: this history.

Clyde's driving skills were "uniquely" good. If Clyde had gone straight, he may have enjoyed a great career as a professional race car driver. He could cover long distances at a great rate of speed, which gave the gang a tremendous range of movement. Clyde also seemed fearless as a driver, and apparently had great reflexes. Ted Hinton told the story, that if Clyde could get 3 corners on you-- he was gone.

Laws and limitations of the time, protected the Gang's interstate concealment. B&C successfully exploited the "state line" rule-- which at the time prevented peace officers from one jurisdiction from pursuing fleeing fugitives into another. By traveling near state borders, The Barrow Gang, could take advantage of this rule-- which was changed shortly thereafter, certainly due to the exploits of B&C and other notorious criminals of their day. Surely another limiting factor, which lawmen found detrimental-- was the decided lack of communication between law enforcement personnel. 2 way radios in police cars was not yet a reality. Therefore police needed to stop and phone in their reports. And when push came to shove, one snip of the phone and or telegraph lines-- and from the Barrow Gang's point of view, it was police blackout time.

Clyde's 6th sense. Often discussed, Clyde seemed to have great sense of avoiding danger. And if faced with an opposing force, he wasted no time in moving as quickly as possible, away from an enemy presence. Based on this rapid response-- reinforcements and additional strategies on the part of lawmen, couldn't easily be brought to bear against The Barrow Gang.

Commentary-- Based on new evidence such as the Bybee interview which chronicles Clyde's movements in detail, I'm not sure I can fully subscribe to the Hamer "discovered a pattern" argument in his tracking of Clyde-- as has been told over the years, as being of central importance. Perhaps a touch of aggrandizement there. As such, I now believe in the "group" effort, consisting of the groundwork laid for the sellout in Louisiana, along with the intelligence performed by the U.S. Bureau of Investigation-- as well as the alerting of officers including Capt. Hamer in Dallas, to come to LA where the action was to take down B&C-- as being closer to the truth.

Some will always view Hamer as the main hero in the B&C endgame. If hero is indeed the right word-- I view him now as playing an important role among many, who contributed toward stopping B&C's reign of terror. Hinton and Alcorn trailed B&C for 17 months. The U. S. Bureau of Investigation had worked on the case, with much more impact than realized previously-- from January of 1933 until their most important work in LA. The Methvin family had put their lives on the line, in order to put B&C on the spot. "And" Capt. Frank Hamer with his reputation for getting the job done, did focus a greater presence-- contribute an enhanced reconnaissance and incite a greater momentum-- when added to the dedicated group of lawmen, who in the end-- did get the job done.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

another reason i think was, MOST of the lawmen were scared of clyde. he had the label of being the most dangerous outlaw of the day. a very fine historian once wrote that in federal i.d. order's issued for criminal's of the era, that "extreme caution" should be exercised in trying to arrest this man. dillinger, floyd, and even nelson didn't come with those kind of "warning label's" and floyd and nelson were wanted for the murder's of federal agent's. and i never bought the idea of the so called circle that hamer said clyde drove, dallas, on to joplin, back south to louisiana, and back to dallas. and as far as hamer being the hero of the barrow gang's demise, i think the credit should be given to all the officer's involved in the chase, and the final chapter. i often think of the statement that bob alcorn made after the ambush. he talked of ALL the other officer's involved, and their deserved cedit as they did their best. the term ALL THE OTHER OFFICER'S has always made me wonder just how many officer's were involved in the final chapter of bonnie and clyde. i would be willing to bet there were a lot more than we thought.