This Leather Purse May Have Belonged to Bonnie and Clyde

by Kati Michelle
this-leather-purse-may-have-belonged-bonnie-and-clyde

With so many pop culture references in various TV shows and songs, it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t heard of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde duo in some capacity. Nowadays, you can even take a tour of the couple’s old hideout in Joplin, Missouri.

While the couple’s guns have always drawn in interest, forensic scientists from the University of Central Oklahoma now find themselves tasked with authenticating a different item that may or may not have belonged to the criminal couple.

Someone donated a leather purse to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and the item stands out for a few reasons. First and foremost, there’s a bullet hole in the ornate bag. Secondly, it contains the name Bonnie Parker etched into it. So, could this accessory really belong to the Queen Pin herself?

How Will Officials Go About Authenticating the Item That Potentially Belongs to Bonnie and Clyde?

Right now, there are more questions than answers regarding the leather purse.

“It’s a mystery and we are going to use forensic science to solve that mystery,” said Caitlin Porterfield who works as an instructor of Forensic Science at the university.

Dr. Rhonda Williams, an Associate Professor of Forensic Science at the university, is confident that they’ll be able to find DNA on the item. “I think it’s very possible to pull DNA off this purse,” she said. The greater question, though, is “Whose is it?”

Dr. Williams also explained that any DNA match will have to come from one of Bonnie Parker’s relatives because DNA was never collected from her before her death. To this day, no record of Bonnie’s individual DNA exists. “If we find DNA and we can somehow link it, that’s amazing and the museum can use it for their exhibits,” she says.

A Curator with the museum named Melissa Owens also said that, if authenticated, this item is as rare as they come. “There are not many items directly associated with either Bonnie or Clyde. If it is Bonnie’s, then as a historical piece it’s priceless.” 

You can read the University’s full statement and see photos of the leather purse here.

The Couple’s Reign of Terror

Bonnie and Clyde met early into the Great Depression and achieved notoriety as a pair of outlaws.

Between 1931 and 1934, the couple went on a theft and killing spree murdering a dozen people in cold blood. Though there were a few civilians, a majority of their victims were police officers.

Other symbols commonly associated with the couple include a Ford Model T car, a .38 detective special, and a Colt .45.

Following a manhunt that lasted years, both died in a police standoff in May of 1934.

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