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February 9, 2021
The bejeweled snake ring that outlaw Clyde Barrow crafted in prison for the love of his life and partner in crime, Bonnie Parker, is the subject of Monday's episode of Strange Inheritance, a primetime reality series on the FOX Business Network (FBN).
Monday's episode titled "Crime Ring" recounts the story of legendary Texas sheriff Smoot Schmid and a ring that was recovered from a bullet-riddled ’33 Ford Model B after his shootout with the Bonnie & Clyde gang.
The legendary couple fled on foot, escaping the police ambush despite wounds to their legs from the bullets that passed through the car. The failed ambush would be known as the "Sowers Raid."
Left behind in the vehicle were a number of personal items, including a silver-tone promise ring in the shape of a three-headed snake. The heads of the snakes were punctuated with green and red jewels. Schmid and his associates kept the items for themselves and hid them away.
Jewelry expert David Bellman speculated that the snake ring may have been crafted in 1930 while Barrow was incarcerated at Eastham Prison Farm near Huntsville, Texas. The ring bears his personal trademark, an arrow passing through the musical note “B.”
According to FBN, many years later, the sheriff's heirs, Debbie Daily and Diana Knowlton, stumbled across their grandfather’s scrapbook of crime scene photos, mug shots of Bonnie and Clyde, news clippings about the failed Sowers Raid, as well as original arrest warrants and a letter written by Bonnie and signed by Clyde. They also found an inventory list with one item in particular that caught their attention: a ring with three silver snakes. They searched for the ring for days and finally found it in the back of their grandfather's closet.
When they were ready to sell their grandfather's Bonnie and Clyde loot, Daily and Knowlton contacted RR Auction executive Bobby Livingston in New Hampshire. The auction took place in June of 2017, and the Bonnie Parker ring, Lot 2039, netted $25,000.
Although Bonnie and Clyde were never formally engaged, the three-headed snake promise ring remains a powerful symbol of two of America’s highest-profile antiheroes.
Hosted by FBN's Jamie Colby, the Strange Inheritance series chronicles the stories of inheritances from people and places from coast to coast. The show airs Monday, March 5, at 9PM/ET. In the photo, top, host Jamie Colby holds the "Crime Ring" as she interviews RR Auction executive Bobby Livingston.
Credits: Top image courtesy of FOX Business Network. Jewelry images courtesy of RR Auction; Bonnie and Clyde photo by one of the Barrow gang [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.