Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bonnie and Clyde Q&A-- How Many Did B&C Kill??

Ah-- one of the great and spirited Bonnie and Clyde debates. This is a question which in fairness, should be expanded to ask-- how many did The Barrow Gang kill?? When addressing this long standing question of interest, rightfully discussion should also include, delving into some of the more hotly debated Barrow Gang killings and their participants. Many feel either 12 or 13-- are the correct number of known Barrow Gang killings. Although 12 of these murders are assured, I buck with tradition and go with 13-- as being the number of murders, committed by the West Dallas desperadoes and their associates.

In sorting out this question, first I feel it's fair to say that now 75 years later-- it's almost universally acknowledged by B&C experts that Bonnie Parker never killed anyone. In addition to direct culpability, Bonnie as all gang members would have almost certainly been considered accessories to murder-- for whichever killings were committed during their tenures. It's been well documented, that Bonnie loaded weapons with bullets that likely killed others. Also based on the evidence that exists, I for one am convinced-- Bonnie "did" fire weapons a number of times at living targets, however I can find nothing to support Bonnie hitting what she aimed at.

Clyde seems responsible for at least 6 murders, and possibly more of the Barrow Gang killings. In June 1933, Clyde admitted to having been obliged to kill 6 men who attempted to capture him. Clyde's deadly admission was witnessed by lawmen George Corey and Paul Hardy, when they were taken hostage after the Wellington incident. Now some may disagree, but if Clyde was true to his boast-- then it seems 6 of the 7 Barrow Gang killings to that point may have been committed by Clyde. In eliminating John Bucher, you would need to consider all of the next 6 killings to be attributed to Clyde Barrow.

There is debate over the killing of Doyle Johnson, since both Clyde and W.D. shot at Johnson.
Many including Jones himself believe he felled Johnson. So even if you were to subtract the Doyle Johnson killing from Clyde's total and pin that one on W. D.-- and then count one of the 2 Grapevine murders for Clyde-- Clyde could still have been responsible for 6 of the killings. Also some consider Clyde's likely killing of Big Ed Crowder in the mix. I myself view Crowder as a pre-Barrow Gang killing, and do not include him within these numbers.

It's almost certain, that W. D. Jones who was a shooter in at least 6 gunfights-- killed at least one man and possibly more. Also Henry Methvin is thought to have killed 2, and depending on who you believe concerning the Grapevine murders, may have killed both motorcycle officers that fateful Easter Sunday-- making for a total of 3 killings. I as many, feel Henry killed one officer and Clyde killed the other. In addition, based on a death bed confession by Buck and W. D. corroboration-- Buck killed Henry Humphrey. And finally, Joe Palmer was reported to have killed Major Crowson-- and is thought to have murdered Wade McNabb.

McNabb is the wild card in determining the correct number Barrow Gang murders. As I see it, McNabb should count as the 13th victim of The Barrow Gang-- and if so, he would also qualify as the only hostage who was killed. The inclusion of McNabb all comes down to whether you believe the story told. On March 29th, 1934 Wade Hampton McNabb is thought to have been kidnapped off a street in Gladewater, Texas by Clyde Barrow, Henry Methvin and Joe Palmer. Several days later, McNabb's body was found near the Texas--Louisiana line. The story goes that McNabb, who was a "Building Tender" at Eastham Prison-- was killed by Joe Palmer, because of his abuse of Palmer while in jail.

Although debatable, the murder of Wade McNabb is a compelling account which makes sense from a Barrow Gang perspective.
Palmer had killed Crowson and apparently had a vendetta against McNabb-- which I feel he likely made good on, while in the company of Clyde Barrow and Henry Methvin. If so it should stand to reason, that with Joe Palmer given credit for Major Crowson as a Barrow Gang killing-- it would be fair to add Palmer's likely murder of McNabb to the gang's deadly total.

Some might say as the McNabb killing can't be positively linked to Barrow and his cohorts, that McNabb can't be considered the 13th Barrow Gang victim. It could also be thought that I'm veering slightly off course, from my usual staunchness in backing only verifiable accounts. But sometimes you've gotta go with your guts. I view this story as too logical, to feel others were responsible for this killing. Thus I'll go out on a limb and join others, who count McNabb as the 13th Barrow Gang murder.

In order to pay our respects, here are the 12 known and 1 suspected victim-- who lost their lives at the hands of The Barrow Gang. Of course with their passing-- came much heartache and hardship for their families.

John N. Bucher-- Hillsboro, Texas April 27th, 1932

Eugene Moore-- Atoka, Oklahoma August 5th, 1932
Howard Hall-- Sherman, Texas October 11th, 1932
Doyle Johnson-- Temple, Texas December 26th, 1932
Malcolm Davis-- Dallas, Texas January 6th, 1933
John W. (Wes) Harryman-- Joplin, Missouri April 13th, 1933
Harry McGuinnis-- Joplin, Missouri April 13th, 1933
Henry D. Humphrey-- Alma, Arkansas June 26th, 1933
Major Crowson-- Huntsville, Texas January 16th, 1934
Wade McNabb-- Near the TX--LA border March 29th, 1934
** believed by some to warrant inclusion in this list

E. B. Wheeler-- Grapevine, Texas April 1st, 1934
H. D. Murphy-- Grapevine, Texas April 1st, 1934

Cal Campbell-- Commerce, Oklahoma April 6th, 1934

Thanks for another great question. I welcome your comments.

1 comment:

BarefootOkieGal said...

In Paul Schneider's book, which is written in the first person, throughout the descriptions of the killings he has inserted statements by some of the victims' family members describing the effect the killing of their father (in most cases) had on the rest of the family for the rest of their lives - I thought that was an excellent way of showing that while the book was a way of seeing things through Clyde's eyes, there were other points of view that were equally valid: There were families left devastated because it was the depression and their loved one (who had in many cases taken on a job as a police officer because it was steady work with a guaranteed income) was the sole support of the family.

Mike Royko wrote a column about the families of Bonnie and Clyde's victims and what they had to say about the pair years later. (I believe this was at the time that the movie was released.) It provides another perspective on Bonnie and Clyde and their life and crimes.