UCO To Examine Purse To Determine If It Belonged To Criminal Bonnie Parker

Beverly Cantrell - January 5, 2022 9:16 pm

University of Central Oklahoma

The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum has an “Outlaw Man” exhibit in the works, but a connection to a notorious female criminal is at the center of some excitement.

A donor gave the museum a purse with the name Bonnie Parker carved inside.

Now, the museum has to to see if the purse was really hers.

Bonnie and Clyde wreaked havoc across the region in the 1930s. They’re suspected of robbing, kidnapping, and murdering. They died in a hail of gunfire in Louisiana.

The donor said Bonnie had the purse when it happened.

UCO To Examine Purse To Determine If It Belonged To Criminal Bonnie Parker

“I’m walking the fine line between wanting to believe that yes, this is, and knowing we really need some kind of proof,” said Melissa Owens, the museum’s registrar and exhibits coordinator.

Now, the museum is working to back up the claim.

“There’s just enough doubt there that it’s interesting. There’s a bullet hole on it,” said Owens. “We’re looking for that chain of evidence.”

To help find the truth about the artifact, the museum called in the help of the University of Central Oklahoma’s forensic science experts to investigate.

Their first move was to swab for DNA.

“Exciting area to test inside the purse in the bottom crevices and then there were three little pockets inside the purse that I actually swabbed,” said Dr. Rhonda Williams, UCO associate professor.

The next test is to look for fingerprints through UV and other light sources.

“We don’t want to add any chemicals or powders or anything to the purse that may destroy it,” said forensic institute instructor Caitlin Porterfield.

Some clues are leading historians to think the purse could belong to Parker, as the crime scene was more of a free for all.

“It was kind of mass souvenir hunting, and we know other things sold online,” said Owens. “There’s mention of there being a purse in the car through several first hand accounts, but it doesn’t show up anywhere.”

The name “Bonnie Parker” is carved inside, but Owens said that doesn’t mean the purse was Parker’s.

The fingerprint portion of the investigation is expected to be done in the coming weeks.

The exhibit will open in November.


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