Thursday, October 1, 2009

Should They Have Knocked The Smile Off Bonnie's Face??

At one point, apparently due to Bonnie's facial muscles relaxing while in death-- her expression was thought to include a perceptible smile. This remarkable image was captured on film at Congers. The story goes, it was thought Bonnie smiling in death-- wouldn't have appeared good for the day, or perhaps the lawmen-- or memories of those who had died at the hands of The Barrow Gang. Thus Bonnie's expression was altered-- to appear as is known, and burned into the minds of so many.

Within the same spirit as "Controversial Quotes"-- a "Controversial Pic" and question for all. Should those at Congers or McKamy-Campbell, have changed Bonnie's expression as it had settled into place??

As an aside, this photo seems to show Bonnie's front teeth-- said by some to have been shot out-- as a result of one shot to her face or another?? So many stories-- so little truth.

I would welcome your comments.


Russ1934 said...

I've seen this photo many, many times and can see how that some people could see it as a mocking smile that perhaps should have been changed or altered. On the other hand, if one had any idea at the time what sort of living hell her existence was, they might have seen her expression in a different light. To me, personally, it sort of strikes me as a possible expression of relief, glad that the endless days and nights of running and bloody horror were finally over. A look of peace.

Russ1934 said...

Sorry, I didn't really give an answer to the question in the previous post. No, I don't think that they should "knocked the smile off" so to speak, but left just enough of that look of serenity for the sake of the family.

Anonymous said...

where's the hole hole Hamer shot in her cheek? ..must be a cover up

Russ1934 said...

If you are referring to the hole supposedly shot into her right cheek, there IS no hole in her right cheek. Please check out the Saturday July 11, 2009 post. It should answer your question.

Anonymous said...

I have been fortunate in my life to have had a limited "live" view of dead folks, but for some strange reason the Congers pics really give me a visceral reaction- and it has nothing to do with the gore...I can't describe it, for a normally logical person it's quite an enigma.

But on that same thread- I believe in extreme respect for the dead. Her body should have been left as is. She had paid her debt and had settled up with the big man; smile or not, leave well enough alone.

And about her teeth- I kinda find it hard to believe that she'd have any left if that had been a left cheek EXIT wound....just sayin'

A. Winston Woodward said...

There was no noted left cheek exit wound. Dr. Wade characterized Bonnie's left cheek wound as an entrance wound, with it's exit from the top of her head. I would agree with you-- "if" there had been a right cheek entrance wound and left cheek exit wound-- I'm not sure the teeth would have made it.

Anonymous said...

Yeah sorry about that I was kinda making an off hand reference to the "alleged right side Hamer barrage attack" after I read it...the sarcasm just never translates the way I want it to! :)

Anonymous said...

It was little more than gravity taking over as her facial muscles relaxed. After Hinton put her back down on the car seat after picking her up, her head was cocked to the left in an awkward angle on Clyde's right shoulder/arm. She stayed in that position for several hours as the car was paraded through the towns & to Conger's as rigor mortis set in. Tilt your head to that sharp angle, mouth open slightly, & see if your upper lip does not droop or hang however slightly in that position also.

Joe said...

I'm new to this site and have been reading and re-reading for a couple of days, without comment. When I saw this picture, I thought it might be time to add my two cents.

Image editing is what I do for a living and years ago when I came across this (and other similar) images of Bonnie post-ambush, I, too, was intrigued by the expression on her face and the fact that her teeth seemed apparent in the picture.

So I did what I do best, I went to work looking at the photos with my good friends, Light, Shadow, Brightness, Contrast and Alpha Layers.

One of the best, clearer images is located at over at Bonnie & Clyde's Hideout (

What at first appears to be a slightly opened mouthed Bonnie (teeth and all) is actually visually misleading. At first glance you think you see her front teeth - but this is actually her lower lip. Below this is a dark, thick line of dried blood. Because of it's close location to her mouth, it looks like this dark area is her opened mouth ... until you look closely. The lower lip striations are clearly visible when you enlarge this area; teeth don't contain these marks.

I also noted the size of her upper lip. At first glance it appears to be swollen, but this would be unlikely since her quick death would have prevented injured tissues from expanding. It was then that I saw that her philtrum (vertical groove in the upper lip) is off center; her upper lip is injured and is similar to an unattached flap of skin more so than an attached lip. This coincides with the documented injuries around her cheek/mouth/jaw area. In short, her upper lip was torn free enough to move. It's a slight movement, according to normal philtrum placement, but it's more than enough when combined with blood, light and shadow to distort her expression(s). I might also note that an injury that would tear the front lip loose from it's internal tissues would certainly have had to blasted teeth out.

Ok, for a first comment, I have rambled on way too long. I apologize for extending the comments section but was excited to see an issue I had long ago noticed addressed.

Russ1934 said...

Joe, it's always good to hear from someone who is expert in their line of work, as you seem to be. Now you've got me looking at the photo in a way that I hadn't thought of before.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Joe and welcome to the B&CHB.

I must say interesting analysis from all, but I'm not exactly sure to what end?? There were many photos of B&C taken at Congers that day, which clearly show both of them-- in various stages of completion of Dr. Wade's coroner's jury, and the Arcadia morgue's embalming duties-- prior to hurriedly being wheeled into the furniture store, to be shown to the public.

The photos of Bonnie, laid out along with Clyde-- and said to have been taken when she was "1st" brought in (which would have included her time spent in the Warren car before being brought to Arcadia)-- more than clearly show a bloody, open mouthed Bonnie-- with to me, a discernibly different expression on her face than this photo portrays.

The smiling Bonnie, was apparently written about in accounts from those who handled the bodies-- and also documented through this photo. Here, she appears to be partially cleaned up, but not as much as in her final Conger photos-- which still show her wounds but without blood being visible. An account of the smiling Bonnie, was noted in at least one McKamy-Campbell funeral home reference-- in noting the McKamy-Campbell embalmer's difficult task, of removing the "sardonic, diabolical grin from Bonnie's twisted lips". Her expression was apparently altered-- as a result of these concerns. The color casket photo seems to bear this out, as her expression had changed-- from the time of this Bonnie pic showing her smile, to the last known photo taken of her.

As far as her mouth and teeth-- this is not the only King Murphy photo, which seemingly shows Bonnie's front teeth or the lack of damage to Bonnie's teeth-- from purported gunshot wounds not noted by Dr. Wade. This pic (to me)-- "appears" to show both her teeth and lips, as does at least one other photo which seems to leave no doubt-- that Bonnie's top row of front teeth remained intact.

I appreciate your input Joe. I would be interested in seeing some of the blow ups you've made-- so I can better understand the source of your opinions.

I've read a some analysis over the past few years, concerning the King Murphy morgue photos of B&C taken at Congers that day. None of this "analysis" in my mind, has been able to withstand scrutiny-- nor challenge documented accounts as exist from May 23rd, 1934. There have even been "whispers" of conspiracy, concerning something odd being afoot-- when some photos have been examined by non-experts. But this was in conjunction with the Bonnie right handed wound(s) to her body and face, which cannot be substantiated. Thus the talk of conspiracy to me, may be just wishful thinking-- on the part of those who got caught perpetuating unprovable untruths, or of those who choose to believe in these expressions.

It is known that King Murphy and his wife developed these photos, and washed them in their home bathtub-- and provided them the very next morning (May 24th)-- both to onlookers for $5 each, and to the press, for a lofty $50 a piece. Someone's going to have to go a "long" "long" way-- to attempt to convince me that the King Murphy photos aren't exactly as they appear to be-- which to me support the findings of Dr. Wade.

The problem I have in hearing of examination of these photos using today's technology, oddly enough-- are "precisely" the advantages of this modern technology. Unlike decades ago, computerized photographic technology today is so good-- that pretty much any alteration thought of concerning these photos or any B&C photos could be achieved. "Fortunately"-- we have many records of these photos as they've been documented over the past 75 years. I have been told within the past year, that the negatives from the King Murphy B&C morgue photos, "may" still exist. I have a lead regarding this info, and hope with some help-- to perhaps locate these negatives. How cool would that be??

A. Winston Woodward said...

I'm not sure how to address your question Tom. But I'm confident that McKamy-Campbell personnel worked on Bonnie. If it's indeed true, that Bonnie's teeth are not showing in this photo, she still appears to be smiling while at Congers.

The color casket pic, shows a much different expression. I would think this comparison between the smiling pic and her last known photo-- would be proof positive, that Bonnie's expression was altered as stated in the McKamy-Campbell account, regardless of how this information was arrived at.

Joe said...

Winston (and Tom) - Thanks for the continued comments and input! As I have read through the posts at this blog, the one thing that has impressed me is the amount of communication going back and forth - some of the best information about B&C is in the comments, lol!

Winston, I do hope you indeed can eventually get your hands (and eyes) on those negatives from the King Murphy B&C morgue photos - you're right, it would be very cool and would probably provide a lot of new information as well as comments here!

Good call, Winston, about the McKamy-Campbell altering Bonnie's appearance (as would be expected considering her wounds). I am sure with that with all the documented statements about the condition of her mouth, they had some work to do to make her as presentable as possible.

t o m - you've made a good point about pictures being flipped, too. This is something that could have easily be done, whether on purpose or not.

I guess we should feel fortunate that such photos even exist to allow us to further examine and comment about.

Good exchange, guys!

A. Winston Woodward said...

I'm not sure how to reconcile any perceived photo issues today regarding Bonnie's smile, with stated account(s) commenting on her noticeable smile-- as written of long ago. However to me, the fact that there are these written accounts concerning McKamy-Campbell-- and their need to address Bonnie's expression, tells me this pic may well be evidence of that smile. I see no reason to hedge, in expressing my comments concerning this photo. To me, Bonnie is smiling.

A. Winston Woodward said...

With all respect to all the Photoshop warriors out there-- this was exactly the problem with the Bonnie wound in her right cheek analysis-- which was caused so viciously, by that vengeful monster Hamer-- in firing into her head and numerous times into Bonnie's right side, using his powerful Colt machine rifle-- in avenging the Grapevine murders scenario.

Now I kinda know, we're not going to get one-- but I would just love a forensic criminologist, with advanced training in discerning details in crime photos-- to analyze and comment on these photos.

And my follow up comment would be-- "smile, grin"-- yes that "is" the point-- teeth or no teeth. If this pic can be seen, as showing Bonnie with the look of something being funny visible on her face-- then "that" is exactly the point. Therefore my prior question-- additional scrutiny to what end??

A. Winston Woodward said...

Your agreement with Bonnie's smile being evident, to me clarifies the point. Either Bonnie is smiling in that photo or she's not. And in 1934, either those at McKamy-Campbell-- had to deal with this perceived reality, or they didn't.

But when you have both a photo and written commentary apparently from that time, and seemingly in agreement-- then it just seems a bit of a moot point, for all the amateur forensic scientists (although stellar professionals within their own fields, and fine people in their own rights)-- to lay out "definitive" conclusions concerning these photos. I feel analysis of these photos by all of us B&C types, is valuable to a point. But I would think, another whole level of forensic expertise would be needed-- in order to definitively state the facts, as could be garnered from these photos.

A. Winston Woodward said...

I would agree with the cleaning up assessment. There's not much doubt in my mind, that Bonnie's mouth is open (with teeth showing)-- in the earliest Congers pics.

Anonymous said...

Here's the link to Frank's pictures: This discussion brings to mind a set of history books I used to have. In one, there was an excerpt from the memoirs of a Civil war doctor. He made the point that the dead have all sorts of expressions, but none of them have anything to do with how they were feeling when they died. He'd seen people killed quickly develop grimaces, people with peaceful expressions who'd suffered up till the end, etc. The expression will change according to rigor mortis, their body being handled, gravity, etc. - barb

Nonie said...

While I am just coming in on a very old post....I have a side view photo of the right side of her head as she lay on the morgue table. (My Grandfather worked the case) NO smile here at all...Perhaps the lawmen posed her??? And, I am getting ready to offer my photos to auction wich is why I am researching all of these sights.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hello Nonie-- Who was your grandfather, and in what capacity did he work the case and where??

And would you be willing to post a scan of your pic(s)-- or e-mail them to me for posting on the blog?? Many thanks.

Jim from Atlanta said...

Starnge that her eyes are closed in this picture--most cadavers have partially opened eyes--also,
Bonnie's teeth are clearly visible--an entrance wound post death on her right cheek at mandible and exit on left cheek, probably severed several molars on lower jaw--a hole in clavicle explains spinal damage thus clutching sandwich--first shot killed Clyde, then hit Bonnie--I do not believe the coroner's report was complete by no means--modern pathology would have been much more thorough--

A. Winston Woodward said...

Concerning Dr. James Wade's report-- too many modern amateur revisionists floating around for me. According to Dr. Wade (who was an expert, who was there and who had has hands on Bonnie)-- entrance wound is not within her right cheek-- but left one. The larger wound in right cheek is exit wound. Unless you believe in the Jones/Fischer report-- which I don't. But those into conspiracy theories (the Hamer assassin theory and the like)-- to me will believe and challenge anything, which contradicts the facts to make their supposition plausible.

Jim from Atlanta said...

I have to disagree with you Winston. The death photo of Bonnie shows an entrance wound on the right cheek and a larger gash on the left cheek. Also, the old man who showed the B&C death car stated that Hamer shot Bonnie in the face after the car was riddled with bullets and stopped in the shallow ditch.

Jim from Atlanta said...

Picture shows a dimple wound on right cheek--exit wound on left cheek--report shows entrance wound on top of right leg at knee--

Bonnie slumped forward when Ford hit ditch--her left side of her head would be on her right leg when Hamer shot her in the back and once in the face through and into the top of her right leg. The bodies were repositioned in the car--Clyde was pushed back from the steering wheel and Bonnie was pushed back and over against Clyde.

I am not an amateur--21 years as CID agent working homicides and currently investigator for two Georgia counties--And, one who lives in a glass house should not throw stones about conspiracy theories.

A. Winston Woodward said...

Someone's sure into hearsay and supposition via Sandy Jones, Bob Fischer and Jeff Guinn-- who admittedly used the Jones/Fischer report as the basis for his Hamer shot Bonnie through the passenger window nonsense. I've written at length re: this report which I find little credence in. And a carnival hawker who showed the car-- is no more an expert on the ambush than Jeff Guinn. And Lord help B&C aficionados who believe 1/2 of his gobbledygook.

Dr. Wade's handwritten notes reveal-- that facial wound to be and I quote-- "another through the mouth on left side, exiting at top of jaw".

Now you and others can hem and haw and scratch and clamor and hope that some sensational Hamer aberration was true. But you've gotta prove it-- and the wishful supposition you've cited-- just ain't good enough. Re: that wound-- Dr. Wade's report (who was an expert)-- still stands as I see it.

Jim from Atlanta said...

Daer Winston,

You obviously have not read the "hand written" coroner's report which you use to prop up your supposition.

4th page bottom shows "flesh wound right face"--also, a picture clearly shows an entrance wound on her right face--thats no dimple!!!

I had an argument with Jeff regarding what brand of cigarette Bonnie smoked--when she died, a pack of Camel's was on her lap--Duhhh--before you hold yourself out as an expert, check the source--with all respect you tinhorn--LOL
Jim M CWO retired.

Jim from Atlanta said...

Correction--Coroner shows entered mouth on left face and crossed out exit right face then wrote exit top right jaw (thats exit top right jaw) then another (could mean exit or entrance)--the exit is on her left cheek at mouth and entrance on right cheek at mouth--then at bottom,

Further coroner wrote: three parallel lines of bullets striking
right side of back from base of neck to angular right capular to middle of back bone,

But the big question is why did Hamer make sure Bonnie was dead?

Answer: Hamer and Texas did not want the public to know that Henry Methvin was granted immunity--only Bonnie and Clyde could say Henry shot two HIghway Patrolmen in Grapevine Texas--

Hamer's motivation for shooting a dead Bonnie is just pure conjecture--theory--wild speculation--but I can see entrance wound on Bonnie's Right cheek which would align with her wound on top of her right leg--

can you imagine what would happen if modern police took guns and paraphanelia from the scene???

A. Winston Woodward said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. Winston Woodward said...

Hey Jim-- I carry a copy of Dr. Wade's report with me when I do B&C talks-- just in case folks wish to debate the Hamer/Bonnie "assassination" supposition-- advanced by Jones and Fischer who were decidedly not experts in any field they loosely promoted within their report-- (criminal forensics, photography or crime scene investigation)-- and published by Jeff Guinn who "is" however it seems, an expert in promoting the sensational to sell books-- at least that appears the case with Bonnie & Clyde.

I'm glad you corrected yourself-- but please call it the way it was. When Dr. James Wade said "another through the mouth on left side, exiting at top of jaw"-- "that" is the wound in question, and exit can only mean exit-- not exit/entrance. That statement is "not" ambiguous.

As Bob Alcorn admittedly fired the shots at Bonnie's door-- and no story from the time of the ambush has Hamer in any position other than firing at the front of the car, with an automatic shotgun by the way-- as substantiated by Henderson Jordan and visible on top of the death car in photos-- my take is to stick with the tried & true, and not allow sensational re-writes to color B&C History in ways which stretch the standards of evidence.

Based on the murders in question and sentence handed down for those murders-- I imagine it obvious to anyone who could put 2 and 2 together-- that Henry Methvin "walked" within a deal made with authorities. No Rocket Scientist needed there.

Did Hamer make sure Bonnie was dead?? With more than 50 bullet wounds evident within her, including more than one to the head-- I can't see that as a question asked at the time of the ambush. Rather-- just one contrived in modern times, to promote B&C conspiracy theories.

The fact is-- there are no wounds noted in Bonnie, as would be the case if Hamer had fired point blank at Bonnie from the right side. And no one can tell me, the bullet holes evident in the right side of the death car (above Bonnie's door)-- were made by Frank Hamer holding his weapon above his head and firing into the roof of the car.

Did Frank Hamer have vitriol for Bonnie?? Based on his own words-- I believe that can be substantiated. But did he carry out some wild assassins rage upon her and fill her full of holes from the right side. Find some way to show me some-- and perhaps then we'd have less to imagine-- and more to legitimately debate.

Jim from Atlanta said...

The coroners report shows entrance wounds on right side of back rom neck to collar bone (scapular) and so on--Look at the pictures, one before washing and one after washing and both clearly show a what is refered to as a "dimple" entrance wound on right cheek--It is my understanding that Ted Hinton told several people (more than one source) that Hamer held his pistol inside the vehicle on the right side and shot sevral times--Ted alleged he used a .45 caliber but Hamer received a super 38 pistol for its penetrating power--I would surmise based on the photographs of Bonnie's face, that he used a 38 super--the exit wound is on her right cheek--thank you--as historians we can choose to examine allegations or simply become revisionists--I do not consider myself as a revisionist.
Thank you, JIm

Jim from Atlanta said...

I am posing a theory, not fact--only an original source is fact--so take into account the death photos and wounds on right side amount to reasonable sources to support a reasonable theory--not supposition.

Thank you,

A. Winston Woodward said...

You know Jim-- I must say I find your wild statements more wild and reckless all the time. I can tell you without reservation, that Ted Hinton never made such a comment re: Frank Hamer at the ambush. So perhaps you would like to reveal where you "understand" you heard such a comment?? L. J. "Boots" Hinton is a stalwart friend of mine, and keen defender of his father. He's also among the very best of the Bonnie & Clyde Historians. Clearly, he follows his father's experiences and viewpoints within this history. However he's an "ain't no foolin' around" kind of guy-- when it comes to historical diligence.

I'm sure he'll be interested in hearing of this alleged statement made by Ted, but will quickly dismiss it-- perhaps within a burst of colorful language.

BTW-- You may wish to include yourself among this group-- but from my perspective, Historians don't surmise-- using hearsay, innuendo and rumor. Real ones don't anyway. Nothing wrong with being a "fan" of this history-- but fans often make the mistake of letting their emotions dictate terms, when searching for facts.

I plan to dig up and post, what I feel is the best of the Bonnie death photos-- when it comes to clearly showing no penetrating mark within Bonnie's right cheek. I must say I feel I've been both patient and polite to you in fielding some really far out supposition-- which many of your comments clearly are.

Jim from Atlanta said...

Winston, I would not "characterize" my theory as wild and reckless when based on personal observation--after all it was you who requested me, to wit:
". . .but I would just love a forensic criminologist, with advanced training in discerning details in crime photos-- to analyze and comment on these photos." Woodward, October 4, 2009 at 5:53.

Now I get the impression that you have ridiculed a "reasonable theory" and only a theory, because you are the self-appointed expert.

I requested several colleages to examine the same photos and all agree that an entrance hole in the right cheek--

Further, and examination of the right front outer door of the B&C death car shows no entrance holes made by rifles only exit dents and holes--.

So try to explain why the coroner's report shows the following:
"three parallel lines of bullets striking right side of back from base of neck to angular right capular to middle of back
bone" Capular is scapular meaning collar bone--there is no way she was shot into the right collar bone from the left side of the car.

Also, coroner report shows "another shot, entering above the right knee" and "bullet wound right leg about middle of
outer right knee" Thats outer right knee.

Can you show me a picture of Bonnie's right face that clearly does not show a puncture entrance wound.

Not that it matters, I believe you have responded in a very non-professional manner and this is my last visit here.

A waste of time.


A. Winston Woodward said...

Since you've decided to leave Jim-- not sure you'll see this, however I'm sure there are B&C forums where sensationalism rules-- with which you may feel more comfortable. And I did provide the photo you've wanted to see within my latest post. You know, I used to debate this stuff until the cows came home-- but no more. I've gotten to the point where I find baseless innuendo tiresome.

My manner toward you has been nothing but professional-- and my patience great. However, there comes a point where it's best to stop with groundless supposition (not reasonable theories)-- and in this case, this is it. You can't make or rather make up, the kind of nonsensical comments you have-- such as the quote you've attributed to Ted Hinton without backing it up, or facing rash criticism from me in calling you on it. It somehow doesn't seem surprising you would be receptive to Guinn-like sensationalism, as you seem to employ a similar mindset in analyzing B&C historical accounts.

I wish you all the best.