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NOC instructor examines Bonnie and Clyde’s Enid connection

December 17, 2018

ENID, Okla. (AP) — Infamous outlaw lovers Bonnie and Clyde died 84 years ago, ambushed on a rural Louisiana road by law enforcement, but in Oklahoma, their crimes still are under investigation.

A 2017 series by Joe Cummings for the Enid News & Eagle highlighted Enid’s history as a noteworthy stop along the pair’s trigger happy road trip, as the town played unwilling host to gun fights, car theft, robbery, much of the assorted violence that was their trademark.

Ex-detective Troy Cochran read those articles, and it got his wheels turning.

He wasn’t entirely convinced, based on what he read, that Bonnie & Clyde had really been in Enid, he said.

He wanted to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the two killers, and fellow members of their gang, had been in town, he said. He wanted enough evidence that he could convince a jury, he said, not that he would need to in this case, but he wanted certainty.

“I enjoy the history aspect, but I’m more motivated by the hunt for evidence, which is what kept me going,” Cochran told Enid News & Eagle .

Cochran’s detective days may be done, he’s currently the director of Northern Oklahoma College’s criminal justice program, but he still keeps detecting.

His own criminal justice students originally brought the articles to his attention a year ago, he said, and his own personal investigation has been ongoing since.

For him, old cases are every bit as exciting as new ones, though clues buried under nearly a century of change, rumor and spotty record-keeping are much harder to unearth.

“It was the exact same feeling. Finding a piece of evidence from 85 years ago was like finding evidence just a few years ago when I was investigating sex crimes and homicides,” he said.

In the interest of putting together a strong case, Cochran settled on one particular crime Bonnie and Clyde’s gang had allegedly committed in Enid — robbing the National Guard armory once located on the Phillips University campus. When Phillips closed in the late 1990s, NOC took over the campus.

The students of NOC’s Criminal Justice Society were hoping to put up a sign on the Enid campus touting its historical connection to Bonnie and Clyde, Cochran said. If a sign was going to be put up, Cochran said he needed to be absolutely sure the story of the armory break in was true beforehand.

“The three elements we have to prove are: Was there a National Guard armory on campus, did a burglary occur, did Bonnie and Clyde have something to do with it?” Cochran said.

It took a year of work, on his own time, for Cochran to collect evidence proving all three questions, but he did.

“It’s hard to balance my job and this investigation,” he said, and there’s still work to be do. I’m not done. This whole thing is not done, this entire thing is still pending.”

At NOC Enid, Cochran recently delivered a lecture presenting his findings. In lieu of an actual jury, an auditorium of students and interested locals will do.

As the project continues, he hopes to include his students further in the work, he said. Being so near the investigation has ignited a great deal of enthusiasm among his students.

“They’re loving being a part of not only NOC history, but of history history,” he said.

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Information from: Enid News & Eagle, http://www.enidnews.com

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