Blowout: The Blog

Posts from Pumpjack Press authors and contributors about culture, books, capitalism and more, with the occasional poem or short story. Submissions welcome. 

Behind the headlines: Bonnie and Clyde kidnapped their own undertaker

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Here’s a morbid little story—perfect for Halloween—about Bonnie and Clyde: they met, and briefly kidnapped, their own undertaker almost a year before they were killed. 

His name was Dillard Darby, a mortician in Ruston, Louisiana and the proud owner of Ford V8 (an automobile that just happened to be a favorite of one Clyde Barrow). As fate would have it, the Barrow gang was passing through Ruston when Clyde took a shine to Dillard’s car. While Dillard was having lunch at his boarding house, he witnessed someone stealing his car and, unaware it was the notorious, and notoriously murderous, Barrow gang, he gave chase. He even convinced a fellow boarder, a Miss Sophia Stone, to let him use her car and to accompany him in his pursuit. 

Dillard and Sophia followed his stolen car out of town and he was finally able to confront the driver, unaware the rest of the gang was rolling up on them, guns drawn. For some reason, the whole scenario amused the outlaws to no end and after a minor physical altercation that left Dillard none the worse for wear, Bonnie insisted their lives be spared. And once she found out that he was an undertaker, she told Dillard she hoped he would be the one who worked on them when the time came. Clyde even gave them $5 to help them get home. But they kept the car. It was later found crashed and riddled with bullet holes. 

That might have been a forewarning of things to come. Their time came on May 23, 1934. Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down in an ambush near Sailes, Louisiana. A LOT of bullets were used. Dillard and Sophia helped identify the bodies and Dillard honored Bonnie’s wish by assisting with the embalming. It wasn’t an easy task. The official coroner’s report listed 17 holes in Clyde’s body and 26 holes in Bonnie’s body, and — since it was reported that more 150 rounds were fired— that was likely underestimating. The lead undertaker, C.B. Bailey, said the bodies had so many holes, it was almost impossible to keep embalming fluid in them for the funeral.

Of course, in our book — Bonnie and Clyde: Resurrection Road — they didn’t die in the car. Instead, their deaths were faked and the outlaw lovers were forced to work for the government to atone for their crimes.