In her second year of high school, Parker met Roy Thornton. They dropped out of school and were married on September 25, 1926, six days before Parker's 16th birthday.
Their marriage, marked by his frequent absences and brushes with the law, was short-lived, and after January 1929 their paths never crossed again. When he was sent to prison for life, she took up with Clyde Barrow, whom she met in a cafe in Dallas.
But they were never divorced, and Parker was wearing Thornton's wedding ring when she died. Thornton was in prison in 1934 when he learned of his wife's death. His reaction was, "I'm glad they went out like they did. It's much better than being caught."[