Tarrant County

Bonnie and Clyde Murder Indictments Discovered in Old Tarrant County Court Records

The indictments accused Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow of murder in Grapevine on April 1, 1934.

Tarrant County court clerks stumbled across some long-lost history – the original indictments of Bonnie and Clyde for murdering two lawmen in Grapevine in 1932.

Clerk Ann Perry found the documents recently as she was scanning old paper court records into the county computer system.

"A piece of history in my hands," she said.

Tarrant County District Court Clerk Tom Wilder said the county has three million court files dating to 1876.

Employees have cataloged about half of them, he said.

"These are files. Many of these are family law files."

One at a time, workers like Perry are scanning old documents into the county's computer system.

Each one is a story of its own.

"It's from stealing chickens to murder to whatever," Perry said.

She couldn't believe what she stumbled across a few days ago.

"Well I came across Bonnie and Clyde," she said.

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker met while living in Dallas in 1930 and soon the pair made headlines as Depression Era outlaws who committed violent robberies and ruthlessly gunned down several police officers that attempted to arrest the pair as they fled from town to town across the midwest.

"They told us they were looking for it so I was keeping my eye open for it," she said. "It was kind of exciting to find it because I'm actually holding a document from back in 1934 when all this was taking place."

Records manager Paula Ford is in charge of cataloging the old documents.

"We get excited when we find these, we do," Ford said.

The indictments accused Parker and Barrow of murder in Grapevine on April 1, 1934. The victims were two lawmen who thought they were helping someone in a broken-down car.

The charges were filed May 18, 1934.

But just a week later, on May 23, 1934, Texas Ranger Francis A. Hamer and FBI Special Agent L.A. Kindell tracked the pair to Arcadia, Louisiana, where Bonnie and Clyde were hiding out. Hamer and Kindell ambushed the notorious couple as they drove to the nearby town of Gibsland, shooting the pair 167 times and ending their two-year crime spree. 

"Instead of executing the indictments, they executed the people," Ford said. "We didn't catch them. We didn't get them in our jail. But we do have the papers."

The papers will now be a permanent part of Tarrant County history.

Wilder said more than half of the county’s court records have already been digitized. The project should finish by 2025 if current funding for the project remains, he added.

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