KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A piece of history that belonged to Bonnie and Clyde, a famous pair of depression era outlaws, will be up for auction in Knoxville on Saturday afternoon.
A pistol that was recovered from Bonnie Parker's bloody skirt has been handed down from generation to generation in one family. Eventually it made its way to East Tennessee.
Bonnie and Clyde were ambushed by police officers and shot to death. The semi-automatic .38 caliber Colt pistol was discovered shortly after.
"That was on the body of Bonnie Parker when they were ambushed on May 23, 1934 down in Arcadia, Louisiana. It was found by the embalmer and the coroner folded in her skirt," explained Wray Williams, with Case Antiques and Auctions.
A woman named Vern Hightower worked in that Louisiana funeral home at the time Bonnie and Clyde's bodies were brought in.
"It was presented to her by the embalmer and the coroner and it's been in the family ever since," Williams explained.
As the story goes, Vern held on to the pistol in her drawer for years. Eventually she handed it to her son with a note.
"I thought I'd pass this along. I love you. Mother," Williams said, reading some of it.
Then in the 1960's, the release of the movie "Bonnie and Clyde" brought a renewed interest to the pair. Vern's son tracked down the witnesses who were there at the time the pistol was discovered.
In a signed affidavit, he documented the pistol's role in history.
"We think we have something special here because there's paperwork from the people who were at the scene," Williams said.
Bonnie's pistol later got handed down to Vern Hightower's grandson.
"Bob Hightower moved to Knoxville and he's lived here for a long time," Williams added, about how the pistol reached Knoxville.
Decades after it was pulled out of Bonnie Parker's bloody skirt, the pistol is expected to sell anywhere from $125,000-$175,000. Although questions about whether Bonnie ever used the gun, when and how, still remain a mystery.
The person who buys the pistol will get all the paperwork that goes with it. They'll also get an album of photographs.
If you'd like to place a bid, you can go to Case's Antiques and Auctions on 2240 Sutherland Avenue. The auction begins at 9 a.m. Bidding on the pistol will begin later in the day.
Those looking to bid on it are asked to arrive no later than noon on Saturday.
3221 South Evans Street
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