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.

It certainly meant a lot to Bonnie that Clyde trusted her enough to use her as a go‑between. Unlike her estranged convict husband, Roy Thornton, Clyde clearly wanted to include her in, rather than exclude her from, every crucial aspect of his life. The Scalley visit had gone so smoothly, and she had enjoyed being involved so much, that it seemed natural for her to ride along with Clyde and Fults when they went to Tyler to steal big, fast cars for the Eastham raid. Fults didn’t mind her tagging along. They’d had several good conversations; he found Bonnie to be “articulate, thoughtful, and witty.” Bonnie, in turn, felt the Eastham and Tyler trips gave her new status as a full-time member of Clyde’s gang. Before leaving for Tyler, she told her mother she was finally moving to Houston to take the made-up job selling cosmetics there.

No one expected trouble when they set out for Tyler on the night of April 18. Clyde had a lot of experience driving away in stolen cars before anyone noticed. Still, Fults asked to stop on the way when they drove through the small town of Kaufman. There was a hardware store there, and he wanted to buy some ammunition. When he rejoined Clyde and Bonnie in the car, he told them the store had a fine selection of guns. The other Lake Dallas Gang boys were supposed to be stealing a new batch of weapons in Celina, but what would it hurt to swing back through Kaufman on the return trip from Tyler and swipe some there, too? It made sense to Clyde, and Bonnie was agreeable. It would just add to the evening’s adventure.

Things went as planned in Tyler. There were many cars to choose from, and Clyde picked out and hot-wired a Chrysler. Fults stole a Buick. Both cars were big enough to transport several Eastham escapees as well as Lake Dallas Gang members, and they were fast, too. On the gravel road between Tyler and Kaufman, Clyde and Fults raced their new rides at speeds approaching 90 miles per hour. They were impressed with the massive vehicles, which rolled into downtown Kaufman around midnight, well after its townspeople had turned in for the night. While Bonnie waited in the Chrysler, Clyde and Fults began breaking the padlock on the door of the hardware store.

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