Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Within Bonnie & Clyde History-- It Seems The Best Defense For Joe Bill Francis.. Is No Defense At All

For years now, I've had an open invitation here on The B&CHB-- for anyone with knowledge of Joe Bill Francis, to please provide an explanation or proof if it exists-- which would exonerate him from being considered the Sowers informant.  I have offered this forum, to publicize the Francis family's expressions concerning Joe Bill should they wish.  One thing I've learned in dealing with Sowers and Joe Bill-- seemingly his family supports him without reservation, but also without anything concrete in defense, beyond love and a respect for the man.  It's surely understandable for a family to stick together through thick and thin-- however,  many if not most familiar with Bonnie & Clyde History, feel Joe Bill was most likely the informant who may have come closest to helping nab Bonnie & Clyde prior to their ambush at Sailes in May '34. 

For it's thought Joe Bill Francis provided insider knowledge (whether willingly or coerced)-- which led directly to Smoot Schmid's Dallas Sheriff's Department waylay on November 22nd, 1933.  And as far as it's effectiveness-- this seeming betrayal was nearly deadly for the notorious pair from West Dallas.  For indeed while still alive-- Bonnie would confide in her sister Billie, the Sowers ambush was the closest Bonnie & Clyde had come to dying.  

However not just Bonnie & Clyde Historians and aficionados have shared this suspicion.  For both Parker and Barrow family members have either directly made or intimated this claim-- as well as some close to the Barrow Gang as well.  Privately and within interviews, Billie Parker made no bones about Joe Bill being the informant-- and
within her memoir when speaking of Sowers, even singling out "the man who drove us that night"  as the man who betrayed them.  That man of course, would have been Joe Bill Francis. This memoir although never published-- was meant for public consumption.   Billie even went as far as to detail her belief as to Joe Bill's payoff for betraying Bonnie & Clyde.. "a used car and a few dollars".

And although some hang their hats on claiming Marie Barrow never fingered Joe Bill-- John Neal Phillips when interviewing Marie, said he heard Marie admit it could have been Joe Bill.  Also within John's "oh so useful" interviews with Barrow Gang confidants while still with us to comment-- Floyd Hamilton apparently had no doubt the informant was Joe Bill.          

Even Ted Hinton has been cited as verification concerning Joe Bill's identity as the Sowers Informant-- when Floyd Hamilton was said to have gotten a non-verbal admission from Hinton concerning Joe Bill within a conversation held between the 2 of them.  Sometimes it seems body language or a wink and a nod are enough.  

With John and I having exchanged e-mails concerning this-- I "thank" John Neal Phillips for his unique perspective, and am grateful for his input-- in having been fortunate enough to have interviewed many so closely associated with this history.  

Now as noted within other articles on this subject published here-- I've had the honor and privilege of having heard from Joe Bill's grandson, who was most gracious in providing wonderful details concerning Joe Bill's life after his Bonnie & Clyde days.  And although I've gone to considerable lengths, to make known my interest in this subject is purely historical and thus harbor no ill-will toward Joe Bill and the Francis family (and why would I??)-- I've also taken considerable heat from another relative, who at one point felt I was somehow being unfair. 

In the heat of anger, I was even wrongly accused of making up the documented correspondence between Dallas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge D. L. McCormack to J. Edgar Hoover, dated February 6th, 1934 concerning Joe Bill.  Oh yes-- there's that document too-- which I at least feel is the "smoking gun" concerning Joe Bill's conduit of information to the authorities.  If anyone has alternative reasoning, why Hoover himself was asked to assure secrecy concerning Joe Bill with the Dallas P.D. I'd like to hear it.      

Anyway-- concerning this relative who says to have known Joe Bill well-- it seems at some point she had a change of heart, and approached me apologetically to ask that I please call her to hear proof of Joe Bill's innocence.  Of course I agreed-- and as asked, tried and tried again to reach her-- leaving phone messages then following up with e-mails, in hopes of "finally" hearing a viable defense concerning Joe Bill straight from someone close to him.  However, as has happened before when honing in on some resolution concerning this-- I received no response/ communication stopped. 

Of course, you never know what's going on in people's lives-- so again, I wish to be fair and ask with the utmost respect and anticipation for this individual's information-- to please contact me once again.  I must say regardless of my diligence within this history-- I can follow up with people just so much, before the "old school" in me feels anymore of an approach would be impolite.  But when someone within a Bonnie & Clyde family inner circle approaches me concerning a Bonnie & Clyde historical event-- rest assured I "will" respond-- as in this case. 

Unfortunately and as previously experienced concerning Joe Bill Francis-- the process has reached a point of silence.  And maybe it will remain as such, as perhaps no defense can indeed be offered??  And that's a shame-- for when someone who knew him, advances the idea of a defense finally being made concerning Joe Bill and Sowers-- it seems only fitting, those who reached out to me in offering such information-- please follow through, for the benefit of Joe Bill, the Francis family and Bonnie & Clyde History. 

And as has been true for quite some time now-- my offer concerning this still stands.

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