Like any large city, the DFW metroplex has its share of celebrity graves. For example, baseball legend Mickey Mantle is buried in Dallas, and the grave of rocker “Dimebag Darrell” Abbott (late of Pantera and Damageplan) can be found in Arlington. Someday, I’ll put together a sweet little entry or two about how to find the graves of a bunch of people while you’re visiting. Although it’s not something that floats my boat particularly, I do understand the draw of celebrity graves, and why some vacationers would make a pilgrimage to see the final resting places of heroes, legends, and role models.
Some of the Dead in Dallas don’t fit into the above categories, though, being more notorious than famous. Possibly the most infamous people actually buried in the Big D — a couple whose legend has lived on for much longer than it should have, in my opinion (thanks, Hollywood) — are Bonnie Parker and Clyde C. Barrow, a fun-loving duo better known to history as Bonnie and Clyde. They died together in Bienville Parish, Louisiana on May 23, 1934, chewed up by dozens of bullets fired by a posse of seven Texas and Louisiana law officers. This was in response to a crime spree that included dozens of robberies, numerous kidnappings, and 12 cold-blooded murders. Were their deaths justified? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the student.
Bonnie and Clyde have since been romanticized by popular culture, but let’s make one thing clear from the outset: they were not, by any stretch of the imagination, nice people. They were brutal outlaws who hurt a <>
have to go looking for both of them, and if you don’t have some help, you may not find them at all. In fact, I passed Bonnie’s grave half a dozen times — and noted the presence of the upright stone of her immediate neighbor several times — before I actually found out where it was.
Appropriately, it was a gray, depressing day when I went in search of the two. A cold front had rolled in from the North (this, on the second day of April), so it was unexpectedly chilly, and it was spitting rain most of the time I was out. I found Bonnie’s grave first. She’s located in Crown Hill Memorial Park at 9718 Webb Chapel Road. Here’s what the entrance to the place looks like.
Bonnie’s grave is located on the west side of the cemetery, right behind a row of hedges, just to the right of a large upright gray tombstone that reads “Tyner.” The young outlaw’s grave marker is remarkably modest; it’s a flat metal marker bearing a fragment of a poem she wrote. The verse sounds like something out of a Hallmark card: “As the flowers are all made sweeter by the sunshine and the dew/So this world is made brighter by the lives of folks like you.” There were fresh flowers on her grave.
Bonnie was wildly popular when she died, though the rest of the gang’s popularity had been tarnished by a series of brutal killings the year before. More than 20,000 people attended her burial service — there were so many people there, in fact, that her family had trouble getting to the gravesite. Part of the reason popular sentiment was weighed so heavily in her favor (then and now) may have been the ignominious way Bonnie and Clyde died. Though there’s no doubt they were dangerous criminals, they were executed by the seven lawmen in the posse without due process, and certainly without being given an opportunity to surrender — in blatant disregard of constitutional guarantees enshrined in the Fourth Amendment. The truth was, Bonnie herself wasn’t wanted for any capital offenses, and the officers knew it; but they figured there was no way in hell she’d just surrender quietly, especially if Clyde didn’t. Apparently, they couldn’t take the chance that he would, so they shot them both from ambush without warning.
Once again: Bonnie Parker is buried in the Crown Hill Memorial Park in Dallas, located at 9718 Webb Chapel Road, near the intersection of Webb Chapel and the Webb Chapel Extension from Interstate Highway 30 to the south. In the next exciting issue, I’ll tell you how to find the gravesite of her beau, the ruthless Clyde Barrow.
*Thornton was killed in 1937 as he tried to escape from prison while serving a five-year sentence for robbery.
**Lee Harvey Oswald’s grave in Fort Worth is the same way. Go figure.