The Spectacularly Incompetent
Bonnie And Clyde

In a new book, Jeff Guinn chronicles the never before told true story of how Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s crime spree almost ended three weeks after it began.

There is no way to be certain what Bonnie thought as her boyfriend, Clyde, blurted out that he was abandoning her in a muddy creek bottom where she was being shot at by lots of angry men. If she begged him to not leave her, Clyde wasn’t persuaded. Perhaps she summoned up a movie heroine moment and agreed that her lover should save himself if he could. Probably she was too panic-stricken to understand what he was saying. In any event, Clyde vaulted up out of the creek bed and ran straight toward the men firing at them. For once, he was in luck. The two closest posse members he charged were both reloading their guns. There was so much confusion that Clyde was able to run free while the posse descended on Bonnie and Fults. Clyde made his way back to Kemp, where he stole one car, drove a little way and stole another, and finally reached his family in West Dallas.

Back on the banks of Cedar Creek, as soon as Clyde had sprinted away Fults told Bonnie to give herself up. In his memoir, he said he suggested she tell the posse that she’d been kidnapped and forced to come along on the failed hardware store robbery with him and Clyde. Bonnie emerged and was immediately taken prisoner. Fults, still bleeding in the creek bed, was captured a moment later. Someone guessed he might be the notorious Oklahoma bandit Pretty Boy Floyd. The posse dragged Bonnie and Fults back into Kemp, where they were locked together for the night in the town’s minuscule, one-cell jail.

Bonnie was calm enough to ask that someone examine Fults’ injured arm. The local physician was summoned—Dr. Scarsdale, who was so put out by the theft of his car that he refused to treat Fults.

Fults was in agony. Bonnie, peering outside through a barred window, could see dozens of armed men ringing the jail, forming a guard to prevent anyone from rescuing the prisoners. On the night of April 19, 1932, just three weeks after they’d begun, it seemed that her glamorous criminal partnership with Clyde had come to a sudden, ignominious end.

Check out Jeff Guinn’s interview on KERA: The True, Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde.

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