Bonnie and Clyde Die in Ambush 87 Years Ago Today

by HB Auld, Jr.

Today is the 87th anniversary of the deaths of Bonnie and Clyde. They were ambushed outside of Gibsland, LA, on May 23, 1934.

The criminal pair had cut a swath of murder and robbery across the United States during the past 21 months. For much of their murder spree, they were accompanied by Clyde Barrow’s brother, Buck Barrow, and his third wife, Blanche.

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow had stopped in at a cafe in Gibsland for a sandwich and were on their way down Highway 54, one of the backroads of Louisiana, when they were lured into stopping by the father of one of their former cohorts, Henry Methvin. When they stopped to help Methvin with his broken-down pickup, six lawmen from Texas and Louisiana stood up and opened fire on their 1934 Ford V8, killing the duo with more than 150 shots.

The dead criminals were taken to nearby Arcadia, LA, laid out on tables in a furniture store, and later buried in separate locations back in Texas: Bonnie Parker was buried in the Fishtrap Cemetery, although she was moved in 1945 to the new Crown Hill Cemetery in Dallas. Clyde Barrow was buried in Western Heights Cemetery in Dallas, next to his brother Marvin. His epitaph reads: “Gone but not forgotten.”

Their final setting outside Gibsland, LA, was near Arcadia, LA, where my dad was born and raised. My dad, HB Auld, had celebrated his 20th birthday in Arcadia, the day before the ambush.

When word quickly reached Arcadia, my paternal uncle, Ernest Murphy, and his brother, King Murphy, rushed to the “death car” and King began taking black and white photos. Ernest ran the film back to Arcadia for processing, and then returned time and again to the ambush site for more film to run in to Arcadia.

When Bonnie and Clyde were taken to Arcadia, they were “laid out” on tables in Conger Furniture Co. , next door to my grandfather’s dry cleaning shop.

…black, three-ring binder (of photos)….

For years, my dad had a black, three-ring binder full of 8×10 black and white photos of the ambush site, the death car, and Bonnie and Clyde in the car and on the tables in Conger Furniture Co. Then, while I was in the Navy, the binder suddenly disappeared. No one knows what happened to it. I believe the photo of the “death car” at the ambush site with Bonnie and Clyde still in it above may well have been one of the ones King Murphy and Ernest Murphy took that day.

For my birthday on November 5, 2011, my wife, Jannie, and I visited Gibsland, LA, where “Boots” Hinton, son of Deputy Ted Hinton who was one of those who ambushed Bonnie and Clyde, told us the story of the ambush after they stopped for sandwiches there. We visited the Bonnie and Clyde Museum there that Boots managed and purchased his book, “Ambush,” which Boots autographed and inscribed for me. When he died, five years later at age 81, I attached his obituary inside the book, also. I still have Boots’ book and cherish my meeting with him.

From there, we drove down Highway 54, a paved two-lane now, but a narrow gravel road on May 23, 1934, when the crime duo traveled down it to their deaths. There, I took the photos above of the ambush site, the highway, and the monument.