1974: The Death of Bonnie & Clyde’s Partner W.D. Jones
I was reading about Bonnie & Clyde today and the story of W.D. Jones caught my eye. He rode with them for 8 long months in 1933. It is hard for me to believe that a criminal who ran with Clyde Barrow would have lived until 1974, and die in my hometown close to where my aunt used to live. So let’s get into it.
I was 16 years old and Clyde was only seven years older, but he always called me “Boy.”
During the 1920s, the 5 year old Jones first met Clyde Barrow while both of their families lived at a squatters camp under the Oak Cliff Viaduct in Dallas, Texas.
Both guys were good looking kids with W.D. even being mistaken for Pretty Boy Floyd by cops after a shootout. The cop was certain that it was Floyd and the media ran with the story. But, it was just the teenage Jones as he bore a striking resemblance to Floyd.
During World War II, William Daniel Jones was released from the Texas state prison at Huntsville. He served 6 years of a 15 year sentence for accomplice to murder from his Bonnie & Clyde days. After prison, Jones then moved to the Houston area where his mother lived, and for many years he lived right next door to her. He tried to join the service but the doctors exempted him from service due to his physical condition. Jones had a bad lung from a childhood bout with Spanish Flu, an epidemic which also wiped out half of his family. He also still had a bullet in his chest, as well as bird-shot pellets in parts of his body. Deacon was also missing two fingertips that had been shot off in a shootout with police during the Bonnie & Clyde era. During this shootout, a lawman was killed, thus the accomplice to murder rap. However, Jones had never fired a shot. He was trying to get the car started.
That Bonnie and Clyde movie made it all look sort of glamorous, but like I told them teenaged boys sitting near me at the drive-in showing: “Take it from an old man who was there. It was hell. Besides, there’s more lawmen nowadays with better ways of catching you.”
Like most famous or semi-famous old criminals, W.D. “Deacon” Jones also met with a violent end. It is quite amazing that he lived up in to the modern era, but he did. Based on old 1970s news articles, Jones had been in poor health at the time of his death, but was a hard-working, hard-partying guy. He worked at an auto parts shop and he loved frequenting bars and taking painkillers. After his murder, Jones attorney Robert Lord described him as “very sentimental and a really gentle person”.
W.D. became addicted to Paregoric, which was an old style tincture of opium that used to be available over the counter before Nixon’s war on drugs. His favorite cocktail was mixing this syrup with Jack Daniels, not unlike what people do today with codeine-based cough syrup to make sizzurp or purple drank, although today most mix the syrup with juice, Kool-Aid or soda (wimps!). It will get you fucked up, but in small doses is a smooth, numbing, mellow high. No pain, no pain. That’s how the aging Jones rolled.
After 1970, Jones was arrested quite often for possession or dealing drugs. After the Warren Beatty movie in the late 60s, Jones became a minor celebrity in Houston. His petty criminal exploits had him constantly in the news. His new favorite street drug was Quaaludes and other barbituates. He was busted with 3,000 pills once and spent several months in a federal detention center.
Clyde always called her “Honey” or “Baby” and she called him “Daddy” or “Honey.” They called me “Boy.”
Deacon was gunned down after taking a 27 year old woman from a bar to stay at an acquaintance’s home. The man did not allow the woman inside and an argument ensued. As Jones walked toward the homeowner, he opened fire once with a shotgun. Since Jones kept coming, he fired two more shots. He had been hit in the armpit, groin and thigh.
The man told police that Jones was friendly and nice when sober, but that he was scary as hell when he was fucked up.
I didn’t see a knife, but he always had a knife and I had seen him with a gun before.
Police did not find a weapon of any kind, and Jones had $3.85 on his person. George A. Jones (no relation) was charged with murder and bail was set at $20,000. George later committed suicide with the same shotgun.
Read W.D. Jones story from Playboy Magazine.