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 was almost dawn before they finally reached the outskirts of Kemp. There was some relief in spotting a car parked in a driveway; it belonged to a local doctor named Scarsdale. They hot-wired the car and drove away, leaving the mules behind, but only got a mile out of town before Scarsdale’s car ran out of gas.

Now they were really in trouble. The sun was up. The posse of angry Kaufman citizens had surely found the abandoned Buick and Chrysler by now, and learned from the farmer about the trio’s escape by mule. The car theft in Kemp would arouse additional pursuit, from that town and the nearby community of Mabank. Clyde, Bonnie, and Fults were miles from anywhere else, with no way to get word to other Lake Dallas Gang members to come and rescue them. Shivering, scared, the trio had no option other than trying to hide in the brush.

Soon pursuers appeared. Led by the city marshal of Kemp and Mabank’s chief of police, a motley pack of farmers and small-town citizens was painstakingly picking its way through the countryside, checking every gulley, grove of trees, and clump of underbrush. They knew the backcountry well, and their quarry realized it was only a matter of time before they were discovered. Clyde and Fults still had their handguns, but they were far too outnumbered to win a shootout.

They went undiscovered until about 5 pm when, in desperation, they ran across a road to a small store on the other side. A car was parked there, but before Clyde could get it hot-wired they were spotted and the posse was on them. The fugitives stumbled to the banks of nearby Cedar Creek. Clyde and Fults tried shooting over their pursuers’ heads, but that only caused the posse members to start shooting, too, and they weren’t trying to miss. Fults was hit in the left arm. It would be only a matter of moments before Clyde and Bonnie went down, too.

Clyde made a quick decision. He didn’t want Bonnie to be caught or shot. But if they made another attempt to flee, she would be a liability. Bonnie would never be able to outrun the men chasing them. If Clyde slowed his own pace to match hers, they’d both be captured. But Clyde didn’t consider surrendering. He’d sworn he’d never go back to prison, and meant it. His only remaining option was to try to get away alone, then see what could be done later about rescuing Bonnie and Fults.

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