Famous Automobiles: Bonnie and Clyde's Death Car Part 3

About famous automobiles specifically the history of Bonnie and Clyde's death car.


The news of the death of Barrow and Parker was teletyped all over the U.S. Promptly, a Kansas entrepreneur, "master showman and display expert" Duke Mills, approached Jesse Warren with a plan to exhibit the car at the World's Fair in Chicago; he wanted to rent the car for $50 a week and pay Jesse a commission on the take. Warren agreed and sent Mills and a lawyer named Hall Smith to Louisiana to get the car. When the showman and the lawyer reached Arcadia, they went to Sheriff Jordan to claim the automobile. He refused to turn it over, saying he needed to keep it longer "for evidence."

In the meantime, the car had been hidden; no one in Arcadia knew where it was except Jordan, the Ford dealer Woodard, and 2 local lawyers of doubtful reputation named Wimberly and Barnette. By June, Jesse Warren had reconciled himself to having lost his car. He expressed no regret; "I've got money," he said; "Let them keep it if they want it. I can always buy another car." Ruth Warren, however, had no intention of giving up so easily. The car, she said, was theirs, and if Jesse wanted to sit back and let some red-neck sheriff do him out of a lot of money, he could, but she wasn't about to. Ruth went to Louisiana to retrieve the car.

In Arcadia she hired W. D. Goff ("Mr. Bill" locally), an ethical and intelligent lawyer. Bill Goff took the case out of local jurisdiction and filed in Shreveport before U.S. judge Ben Dawkins, who well understood the subtlety of political connections in Bienville Parish. Ultimately Sheriff Jordan was brought before Judge Dawkins for contempt of court in refusing to surrender the automobile.

The car, hidden in a barn in Arcadia, was reluctantly turned over to Ruth Warren, who drove it, gore on the seats and brains dried on the interior, back to Shreveport, where it was loaded on a van and hauled to Topeka. Over 2 months had elasped since Bonnie and Clyde were killed.

Mr. Warren and his family were less than eager to see the car. "We wanted," said his sister Helen later, "nothing to do with it. We thought it was horrible. There it was, parked in the driveway, just a mess. Nowadays, of course, we live in violence, but in those days it seemed incredible to us that anybody would want to look at a bloody car full of bullet holes. We though it was awful that 2 people, 2 human beings, had been killed in it. Not Ruth; she knew exactly what to do with it." From that point on, Ruth Warren took control of the car and leased it to John R. Castle of United Shows, who exhibited it 1st at the Topeka fairgrounds. In September of 1934, Castle defaulted in paying rent; Ruth went to court again and repossessed the car. The she rented it for $200 a month to Charles Stanley, a carnival man from Cleveland.

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