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Iowa History Daily: July 24 - Bonnie & Clyde Shootout at Dexter

Iowa History Daily: At around 5:00 a.m. on July 24, 1933, law enforcement quietly encircled the infamous American outlaws Bonnie and Clyde at Dexfield Park near the Dallas County town of Dexter. The ensuing fire-fight injured or killed each member of the gang, but Bonnie and Clyde managed to flee on foot.

After meeting in their native Texas during 1930, and according to accounts the couple quickly fell in love. However, Clyde’s career as a car thief interrupted the romance when he found himself convicted of auto theft and sent to the Eastham Prison Farm. The 21-year old inmate allegedly killed another inmate, but another prisoner already convicted to a life-sentence took the rap.

Off the prison farm in early 1932, the torrid love affair of the young couple started on a crime-spree unlike many in American history. Robbing a series of gas stations and other businesses ultimately landed Bonnie in jail for a few months leading into the summer of 1932. As the gang blazed a path from Texas to Minnesota they left murders, burglaries, and bank robberies in their wake.

Fleeing a gun battle in Platte City, Missouri, the gang hoped to heal in the vacant park to the west of Des Moines near Dexter during early July 1933. Local farmer Henry Nye stumbled upon the hideout, and reported what he saw to Dexter’s Marshall John Love.

With assistance from the Dallas County Sheriff Clinton Knee and some fifty officers from Des Moines, the local authorities attempted to apprehend the gang. Instead, a wild firefight ensued, allowing Bonnie and Clyde to escape to the farm of John Vallie Feller where they stole a car and left Dallas County on an unguarded route over the South Raccoon River.

Police did apprehend Buck and Blanche Barrow, signaling the beginning of the end for the notorious Barrow Gang. Sightings of Bonnie and Clyde proliferated after their escape, and by 1934 they returned to Iowa for another crime spree. After a bank robbery in Stuart, Iowa, during April of 1934, law enforcement closed in on the couple alleged to have committed at least a dozen murders in addition to their infamous bank robberies. Following their deaths at the hands of authorities several weeks after the Iowa robbery, the legend of the two outlaws continued to grow in the imaginations of Iowans. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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