Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bonnie & Clyde-- Taken Down From Within. But At What Cost Betrayal??

Until 2007-- the Methvin family (rumored for decades, as being involved to a greater or lesser degree?? in betraying Bonnie & Clyde)-- were known as the key protagonists, in spelling the end for America's most iconic outlaws.  But unbeknownst to all who studied this history until the new millennia, prior to the Spring of '34-- Bonnie & Clyde had their share of turncoats, many of whom (whether realized or not) betrayed them from within.  For once released, those insightful Bonnie & Clyde Dallas FBI files (file 26-2114)-- shed enormous light on realities previously known only to participants within this history, and Federal law enforcement who in truth-- played a much larger role than previously thought re: the tracking of Bonnie & Clyde.

Indeed one need look no farther than Cumie Barrow's own brother in law Jim Muckleroy, who within an interview held with U.S. Bureau of Investigation agents in March 1933-- "spilled the beans" in a profound way regarding "key" info divulged concerning Bonnie & Clyde. "Ah"-- that pesky prescription bottle, found in the car owned by Dr. E. L. Damron of Effington, Illinois.  That little clue, found within a car stolen on September 2nd, 1932 and later recovered in Pauhuska, Oklahoma.  That lone "carnapping"-- would not only lead to Federal charges of Interstate auto theft against Bonnie & Clyde-- but also garner important leads for the law, in bringing a fledgling Barrow Gang into greater focus. 

For the tracing of that prescription bottle (not belonging to Dr. Damron)-- led Bureau Agents to Cumie Barrow's sister Mrs. James Muckelroy-- who's name was on the script.  When interviewed, Mr. Muckelroy provided what must have seemed a "bonanza" of information to investigators-- including (almost as an aside) an explanation re: the prescription bottle.  As explained by Mr. Muckelroy-- his wife remembered giving it (soon to be refilled anyway)-- to her nephew L.C. Barrow, who was in need of medication to combat a venereal disease. But not only was L.C. there on that visit to Martinsville, Texas in the late Summer of '32-- but Mr. Muckelroy revealed others present that day, who were of keen interest to law enforcement.  For also present, were Clyde Barrow, Clyde's "wife" Bonnie, Cumie Barrow and her young daughter of about 17 years of age.  That would've been Marie.

Mr. Muckelroy would further explain that Clyde & Bonnie traveled all over the country, and that he didn't know the maiden name of Clyde's wife-- but thought they married in Dallas.  Also that the Barrows lived at and operated a filling station in Oakcliff, West Dallas (with directions).  But that's not all.  By the time investigators had processed info from this meeting and generated a report-- they had noted Artie and Nell Barrow, their occupations and locations-- that Clyde had visited the Muckelroys previously with 2 other men whom Mr. Muckelry provided descriptions of-- had told of Buck Barrow having stayed with them after escaping from prison, and once having recuperating there from sickness-- again having surrendered.  He also seemingly provided detailed descriptions of Clyde, L.C. & Bonnie right down to scars, tattoos and Bonnie's bullet wound ("left foot in toe next to little toe").  

In fact, by the end of this Bureau document (dated March 6th '33)-- the law had already linked Clyde (wanted for murder, robbery, kidnapping and car theft)-- to Gene O'Dare and Raymond Hamilton.  Also seemed certain that Gene O'Dare's wife was a sister to Ray Hamilton.  "And" had identified Bonnie as the wife of Roy "Harding" (a misidentification that would plague the Bureau for months, and inhibit their ability to learn more about Bonnie.  But they knew of Bonnie's sister Mrs. Fred Mace alias Billie Parker and the Mace's address.  Also that L.C. lived at home, and about his pending charges in Kaufman, TX.

Bottom line-- some pretty nifty results, at least in part-- from the discovery of a prescription bottle errantly left behind, in one stolen car by L.C. Barrow.  In fairness to Mrs. Muckelroy-- Mr. Muckelroy told police he would just as soon his wife not know he had furnished any information as to the Barrows, as Mrs. Cumie Barrow and his wife were sisters. But bless Mr. Muckelroy-- as that too would be relevant info.  

In addition to these important insider revelations, you can include other Barrow and Parker relatives as having contributed to the downfall of Bonnie & Clyde.  Surely Barrow cousin Bailey Tynes (also on Cumie's side of the family)-- was instrumental in providing "remarkable" information during the immediate time leading up to Bonnie & Clyde's May 1934 ambush.  Please view the August 29th, 2009 post on Bailey Tynes, for revelations beyond those found in the FBI Files.  I learned of these rare Bailey Tynes stories, through interviews conducted with Tynes family members-- at least one of which, heard Bailey tell his Bonnie & Clyde accounts 1st hand.  

And to know of Bailey's stories as told without the Bureau's knowledge-- is to view Bailey within a quite dangerous game of having helped Bonnie & Clyde (including letting them stay at his home)-- while at different times heading off to stay with Cumie and Henry Barrow in Dallas, to report back to the Bureau from within the Barrow residence.  Damned remarkable!!  It's no wonder, he sent his children to live with relatives during this period to insure their safety.  And no wonder, the Bureau sent an Agent to follow Bailey on his travels.  That fact makes more sense, once you know the private Bailey stories. 

Also for those not aware of this-- according to Bailey, at one point he tried to lure Bonnie & Clyde into meeting him within a Pecan orchard.  Reportedly waiting in the woods there-- were Federal Agents poised to attempt capture of the elusive pair, well before Gibsland.  To me, one of the more remarkable stories told re: Bonnie & Clyde.  None of these revelations are in the Bureau files, but I imagine they wouldn't be-- as documentation concerning Bailey Tynes was most often dependent on Bailey's disclosures.

Then there's the Sower's informant-- long thought to be Marie's husband Joe Bill Francis.  I as many, feel the evidence points pretty squarely at Joe Bill.  Some from Joe Bill's family have most graciously contacted me over the years, to support Joe Bill-- and tell me of his life post Bonnie & Clyde.  I must say I've surely appreciated those who've reached out to me in that regard-- and find stories of his later life both inspiring and admirable.  In relating to Francis family members, I've found myself quite conscious of his family's heartfelt defense of Joe Bill-- concerning rumors of betrayal, which have dogged them for decades.  

However my thoughts are-- that for all their wonderful support of him post '30's-- no one to date, has presented evidence (including any statement of denial known from Joe Bill)-- to help quell those rumors.  Believe me, I've tried-- to learn of Joe Bill's thoughts concerning this matter as expressed at any time during his life.  As I've expressed to the Francis family-- the door is always open here, for an objective defense of Joe Bill Francis should new evidence be brought to light.  

Beyond Sowers, there's also the Bureau's interview with Edith and Buster Parker-- who were helpful in a way not dissimilar to the assistance Jim Muckelroy provided the prior year.  When given an opportunity to speak with Charles Winstead on January 5th, 1934, Edith opened up-- in revealing family info on Bonnie & Clyde but particularly re: Bonnie & the Parker family.  Buster was more reserved and direct-- in saying if ever he could learn of Clyde's whereabouts while separated from Bonnie-- he wouldn't hesitate to put Barrow on the spot.  Edith provided the additional insight, that Bonnie & Clyde would not come around them, due to Buster's dislike of Clyde & Bonnie's "mode of living".  Despite the idea that Billie seemingly understood Bonnie's devotion to Clyde-- it was apparent the Parker family was clearly of the view that Bonnie should disassociate herself from Clyde Barrow.  A notion Bonnie never took to heart.

There were other informants along the way, comprised of the criminal element known to Bonnie & Clyde.  W.D. Jones and others such as Jimmy Mullens, and Hilton Bybee seemingly sang like birds when confronted with the right pressures.  To me, those "helps" for the law would be expected.  But whether for the sake of conscience, or a respect for righteousness and the victims involved-- it's the "family confessors"-- whom I suppose are of more interest to many who follow this history.  The Methvin family can surely lay claim to the most profound betrayal of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, for their sell out resulted in the deaths of the outlaws.  But now that more is known, it also pays to acknowledge others "from within"-- who contributed to Bonnie's so famous end line--"But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde".

Now was there a price paid for the betrayal of Bonnie & Clyde??  Those looking into the still mysterious deaths of Ivy and Henry Methvin, might think so-- as perhaps Parker or Barrow retribution could've been  true??  But sometimes, too much is read into tragedy-- which can blur the lines between fact & fiction.        


Russ1934 said...

Another great post, Winston!! Keep up the good work! Russ

Joe said...

great piece. Love to read your work.It is so unbaised which make refreshing

Great to have you writing on a regular basis again

A. Winston Woodward said...

Hi Russ & Joe--

Thank you for your kind comments. Just getting warmed up again. And being unbiased and truthful, is what this B&C forum is all about. Not to mention being civil-- an expectation seemingly lost on so many these days. I don't know (as I'm old-fashioned)-- but I feel it's good to be able to put forth and exchange ideas, where ideas and people are respected.

I get criticized sometimes for having comment moderation here, "but it works"-- to deter the needless waste of time of hateful banter. Many polarizing & passionate views surrounding this history-- which sometimes get in the way of what's best "for" this history. A fair exchange of ideas-- respect for those who bring forth assertions to try and explain loose ends (no matter how "outlandish")-- and common civility within debate.

Thanks to all, for your loyalty to this B&C forum!!

Frances said...

This post was so informative and interesting (although all of them are great!). I sure would have enjoyed going to Washington DC but I plan to visit 'sometime' in the future.