Henry Methvin (April 8, 1912 - April 19, 1948) was an American criminal, bank robber, and depression-era outlaw. He was known as the last member of Bonnie and Clyde's gang. Methvin's father, Ivan, was handcuffed to a tree by Frank Hamer and his posse and then his log truck was used to slow Parker and Barrow down, which gave the posse the advantage of shooting them to death in an ambush. His role in the gang has often been misattributed to that of W.D. Jones, as both men were composite characters of the C.W. Moss character in the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.
Early Life and Bonnie and Clyde Edit
Henry Methvin was born in Louisiana on April 8, 1912, to Ivan "Ivy" T. Methvin and Avie Stephens. He was recently serving a 10-year prison sentence at the Eastham Prison Farm in Huntsville, Texas when Bonnie and Clyde had come to break out Raymond "Ray" Hamilton on January 16, 1934. During the raid to get Hamilton, one guard was killed and another was wounded. Due to the confusion, Methvin and three other inmates took the opportunity to escape with Hamilton. Hamilton initially became annoyed and ordered them back, however Clyde welcomed the convicts and offered to let them join the gang. The three men declined the offer, but Methvin decided to join. He would remain with Parker and Barrow until their deadly ambush five months later. Just a month later, Henry along with Ray and Clyde stole guns and ammunition from a National Guard armory in Ranger, Texas, under the cover of darkness on the night of February 19. Eight days later, the men used the military grade weapons they stole to obtain $4,138 from a bank in Lancaster. Bonnie and Clyde then agreed to drive Methvin to visit his father near Gibsland, Louisiana on March 1. Henry was present the following month when the gang shot and killed Texas state troopers E.B. Wheeler and H.D. Murphy on April 1, 1934. Reports from relatives and eyewitnesses have apparently implicated all four gang members. Clyde was very inconsistent on who the exact shooter was, in letters he wrote to relatives, he blames Methvin for the crime. Claiming that Henry had misunderstood Clyde's suggestion when he said that they "take" the troopers, meaning to disarm them and kidnap them, or take them on a "joyride", but instead he opened fire on them with a BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle). In a letter Clyde wrote to authorities, he blamed Hamilton for the murders. Regardless if Methvin was responsible or not, he was to blame for a murder the gang caused five days later. On April 6, they experienced trouble when their car became stuck in mud near Commerce, Oklahoma. When trying to get the car moving, two local law officers out on patrol surprised them with gunfire. Constable Cal Campbell was killed, while his partner Police Chief Percy Boyd was wounded. Boyd was then taken hostage by the gang, who later released him near Fort Scott, Kansas. The next day, while eating at a cafe in Stillwater, they immediately left when a patrolman passed by. Henry and the gang would remain on the run for the next few months. On April 30, Methvin was involved in a Kansas bank robbery with the Barrow Gang, who were joined by Joe Palmer. They escaped with $2,800. On May 1, they were also identified in a bank robbery that took place in Sac City, Iowa. Just two days later, they stole $700 from a bank in Everly. Afterwards, they traveled south to visit relatives on May 6, this followed with another family meeting with Henry's father Ivan in Louisiana. On May 19, Parker and Barrow sent Methvin into a diner to get sandwiches for the gang. Barrow didn't intend to draw attention, so when a patrol car passed by, he drove off leaving Henry in the diner. Methvin managed to hitchhike to Ruston where his parents were living. Most versions of the story explain that Henry told his father that the gang planned a spot for a rendezvous in the event of any gang member being left behind or separated. Henry was supposed to meet the Barrow Gang on a deserted stretch of highway south of Arcadia.
Ivan Methvin, who was annoyed by all the police harassing him due to his son's involvement with Bonnie and Clyde, gave away this information to local law enforcement, most notably to Louisiana sheriff Henderson Jordan, who in turn passed it along to Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. In exchange, Ivan was promised that his son would not get the death penalty for the murder of the troopers near Grapevine two months earlier. It is unknown if Henry knew of Hamer's deal or the arrangement he made with his father. On May 3, 1934, Ivan Methvin parked his log truck near the meeting spot and removed one of the wheels as if he was removing a flat tire. When Bonnie and Clyde stopped to assist Ivan, Hamer gave the signal and his 6-man posse fired BAR's, Thompsons, 12-gauge shotguns, and pistols at the couple killing them instantly while in their stolen Ford V-8. An alternate scenario silenced since the 1990s, revealed that the posse forced Ivan Methvin to go along with the ambush. He was stopped by Hamer and the lawmen on the highway, and tied or handcuffed to a tree, while his truck was disabled to lure the the couple into the range of the gunfire. Though he was able to avoid the Grapevine murders, Henry's arrangement did not include the murder of Constable Campbell. Henry Methvin was then extradited to Oklahoma where he was found guilty of the officer's murder and was sentenced to death on December 20, 1935. His sentence was eventually commuted to life imprisonment on September 18, 1936. He was paroled six years later, on March 20, 1942. Henry continued to remain in trouble with the law. By November 1945, he was jailed for fighting and carrying a shotgun, later he was arrested again for attempted robbery and driving while under the influence near Shreveport, Louisiana just eleven months later.
On April 19, 1948, Henry Methvin was intoxicated while attempting to cross a railroad track and was killed by an oncoming train. Speculation lead people to believe his death was retribution for Bonnie and Clyde, as so his father Ivan also died 16 months earlier, no evidence was found proving foul play.
In Film Edit
In the 2013 mini-series Bonnie & Clyde, Methvin is portrayed by Hollywood actor Garret Kruithof.