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The posse was led by Hamer, who had begun tracking the pair on February 10, 1934. He studied the gang's movements and found they swung in a circle skirting the edges of five midwest states, exploiting the "state line" rule that prevented officers from one jurisdiction from pursuing a fugitive into another. Barrow was a master of that pre-FBI rule, but compared to John Dillinger, who was active throughout the Midwest at the time of Bonnie and Clyde's crime spree, Clyde was consistent in his movements, so an experienced manhunter like Hamer could chart his path and predict where he would go. The gang's itinerary centered on family visits, and they were due to see Henry Methvin's family in Louisiana, which explained Hamer's meeting with them over the course of the hunt. Hamer obtained a quantity of civilian Browning Automatic Rifles (manufactured by Colt as the "Monitor") and 20 round magazines with armor piercing rounds.
On May 21, 1934, the four posse members from Texas were in Shreveport, when they learned that Barrow and Parker were to go to Bienville Parish that evening with Methvin. Barrow had designated the residence of Methvin's parents as a rendezvous in case they were later separated and indeed Methvin did get separated from the pair in Shreveport. The full posse, consisting of Captain Hamer, Dallas County Sheriff's Deputies Bob Alcorn and Ted Hinton (both of whom knew Barrow and Parker by sight), former Texas Ranger B.M. "Manny" Gault, Bienville Parish Sheriff Henderson Jordan and his deputy and successor in office, Prentiss Oakley, set up an ambush at the rendezvous point along Louisiana State Highway 154 south of Gibsland toward Sailes. Hinton's account has the group in place by 9:00 pm on the 21st and waiting through the whole next day (May 22) with no sign of the outlaw couple,but other accounts have them setting up on the evening of the 22nd.
Amidst the lingering gunsmoke at the ambush site, the temporarily deafened officers inspected the vehicle and discovered an arsenal of weapons including stolen automatic rifles, sawed-off semi-automatic shotguns, assorted handguns, and several thousand rounds of ammunition, along with 15 sets of license plates from various states.Word of the ambush quickly got around when Hamer, Jordan, Oakley, and Hinton drove into town to telephone their respective bosses. A crowd soon gathered at the spot, and Gault and Alcorn, who had been left to guard the bodies, lost control of the jostling curious; one woman cut off bloody locks of Parker's hair and pieces from her dress, which were subsequently sold as souvenirs. Hinton returned to find a man trying to cut off Barrow's trigger finger, and was sickened by what was occurring.The coroner, arriving on the scene, saw the following: "... nearly everyone had begun collecting souvenirs such as shell casings, slivers of glass from the shattered car windows, and bloody pieces of clothing from the garments of Bonnie and Clyde. One eager man had opened his pocket knife, and was reaching into the car to cut off Clyde's left ear."The coroner enlisted Hamer for help in controlling the "circus-like atmosphere", and only then did people move away from the car.
The bullet-riddled Ford containing the two bodies was towed to the Conger Furniture Store & funeral parlor in downtown Arcadia, Louisiana. Preliminary embalming was done by Bailey in the small preparation room in back of the furniture store.It was estimated that the northwest Louisiana town swelled in population from 2,000 to 12,000 within hours, the curious throngs arriving by train, horseback, buggy, and plane. Beer which normally sold for 15 cents a bottle jumped to 25 cents; ham sandwiches quickly sold out.After identifying his son's body, an emotional Henry Barrow sat in a rocking chair in the furniture part of the Conger establishment and wept.
H.D. Darby, a young undertaker who worked for the McClure Funeral Parlor in nearby Ruston, Louisiana, and Sophia Stone, a home demonstration agent also from Ruston, came to Arcadia to identify the bodies.They had been kidnapped by the Barrow gang the previous year in Ruston, on April 27, 1933, and released near Waldo, Arkansas. Parker reportedly had laughed when she asked Darby his profession and discovered he was an undertaker. She remarked that maybe someday he would be working on her.As it turned out, she could be no closer to the truth: Darby assisted Bailey in embalming the outlaws.