In the consequences of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker’s bloody two-year crime spree, the U.S. Federal government put an ext than a dozen of their family members and friends on trial because that helping the couple out. Throughout his closeup of the door argument, prosecutor Clyde O. Eastus made a surprising allegation.

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Pointing at Clyde’s mother, Cumie Barrow, Eastus roared: “She is the ringleader in this conspiracy!”

As the U.S. Attorney because that the northern District the Texas, Eastus likely was embellishing his allude for the Dallas jury. He placed Cumie front and center since she admitted meeting routinely with the fugitives and was well-known to provide them v food, clothing and also other comforts.


But Eastus was on to something.

A new look at the Bonnie and Clyde’s background suggests that Cumie truly was the mrs behind Clyde Barrow. Participant accounts and also news stories from the time, including those saved in scrapbooks that the Dallas ar sheriff, depict a mommy who closely managed she son’s image, win his release from prison with small lies, turn news reporters and likely making payoffs that helped prolong his long run the robbery and murder.

To it is in sure, Cumie has constantly been a crucial character in the Bonnie and Clyde drama. However the typical narrative, as thorough by crime buffs, portrays her just as a loving and also protective mom who would do anything for she children. She was nearly certainly more complicit than that.


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The parental of gangster Clyde Barrow, sit in your home, circa 1939. (Credit: Carl Mydans/The LIFE photo Collection/Getty Images)


Born Cumie Walker near Swift, Texas, in 1874, she married Henry Barrow just after she rotate 17. She to be far much more literate than her husband, who had actually been sickly and never saw school. The couple spent many of your life farming, or do the efforts to. Making a living off the soil was a challenge, especially as their household grew indigenous one child in 1894 to 7 by 1918. Cumie became savvy in survival skills.


A depression in farm prices after world War I required Henry and Cumie to relocate in 1922 to Dallas, where Henry scraped out a life peddling scrap. By the time Clyde Barrow remained in his mid-teens, the had given up ~ above school and also was functioning in a collection of manufacturing facility jobs. The low salaries weren’t enough for the lifestyle he wanted. Before long, he added stealing to his skills—first metal items to assist his father and then turkeys prior to advancing to car theft and also break-ins. As soon as the police in Dallas started to draw him to the station consistently for questioning, he took his trade to other Texas cities.

READ MORE: 10 points You may Not Know about Bonnie and Clyde

In early on 1930, that met and fell head over heels because that Bonnie Parker, one animated, petite blond who was separated from her teen husband. Simply a few weeks later, though, Clyde to be arrested and also eventually sent to Waco, Texas, wherein he was conveniently tried and convicted for numerous thefts and also burglaries. Authorities in Houston then blamed him because that a murder numerous months before.

With Clyde encountering 14 years in prison and a murder charge, Cumie provided an interview to the Waco News-Tribune, insisting he remained in Dallas, no Houston at the moment of the murder. She meeting his problem to fallout’s in v a negative group that young men and also noted, correctly, that he had actually previously to be charged, however never convicted, of a crime.


In fact, her baby-faced son was at least two year older than that—but she certain knew the the state tended to be more lenient with teens. (By many accounts, Clyde to be born in 1909, definition he had just turn 21. However the family members Bible listed his bear year together 1910, i m sorry some case is correct.)

The murder charge was to reduce when an additional suspect emerged. However when Clyde arrived at the state penitentiary to offer his sentence, he noted his age as 18.

Cumie would store up the period myth as she operated diligently to obtain Clyde released from prison.


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Clyde Barrow, hold a firearm while sitting on the front fender the a auto circa 1933. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


She hired lawyers with money noted by her kid Buck, Clyde’s enlarge brother, that apparently obtained the cash by stop up filling stations and also stealing firm payrolls. Those lawyers wove a heart-rending tale, arguing that Clyde’s mother was a widow that truly necessary his earnings. Cumie, however, wasn’t a widow; she and also Henry had actually moved their tiny hand-built residence to a West Dallas lot whereby Henry ran a usually filling station from a front room.

Either Cumie or she lawyers also collected recommendation letters from the sheriff who organized Clyde in the Waco jail, the judge who sentenced him and other officials who supported his release. The state pardon plank concurred, recommending his parole due to the fact that “Barrow was just 18 years old as soon as he got into his trouble,” and he would go home to support and also care for his mother.

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After his release in beforehand 1932, Clyde did assistance his mother—though not in the means the state expected.

Within a year, Clyde was linked to at least 4 murders, part kidnappings, and also all kinds of robberies. But his mom was rapid to safeguard him. In one interview v Dallas’ Daily time Herald, she illustrated him together a kind son who came by the gas station just after Christmas to offer her a hug and kiss. She concerned aloud that “We might hear any type of minute that he’s dead.”