The Death of Ma Barker
Ocklawaha, Florida
 
In life, Kate Barker never achieved the kind of notoriety she achieved in death! The FBI was actively searching for her gangster son, Fred Barker, and by concentrating on a near-legendary alligator nicknamed Gator Joe, they found him! The lengthy gunbattle that followed left Fred and his mother dead!
Click Images to Enlage
Kate"Ma" Barker
Ma and Pa Barker
Alvin "Creepy" Karpis
Arthur "Doc" Barker
Fred Barker Mugshot
1931 Howell County, Missouri Wanted Poster
1934 Federal Wanted Poster for Fred Barker
Lloyd Barker
13250 E. Highway 25
The Barker's Firearms
Ma and Freddie in Morgue
Atlanta Georgian Front Page
Barkers' Graves (Courtesy of Find A Grave.com)
Ma's Grave Marker (Courtesy of Find A Grave.com)
 
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It's believed by many that the Ma Barker image was originated by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI in an effort to justify the killing of an old lady. She has been portrayed as the mastermind of the Barker-Karpis gang, while surviving gang members absolutely denied the allegations. However, evidence indicates that she was much more involved in criminal activity than some think, whether she was the "mastermind" or not is debatable. To say the least, she was a willing accomplice, if nothing else.

Arizona Donnie Clark was born near Springfield, Missouri, the exact year is not known, though most agree that she was born on October 8, 1873. In 1892, she married George Barker and in time gave birth to four of the meanest examples of humanity ever to exist! The boys were named Herman, Lloyd, Arthur and Fred. After the birth of Fred, George Barker left the family, though it may have been at the insistence of his wife. At some point, she began using the name Kate Barker.

On several occasions Kate faced the authorities on behalf of her sons, trying to keep them from serving jail time. She was usually successful by pleading with arresting officers or staging a big commotion at the police station.

In 1910, Herman was arrested for robbery in Webb City, Missouri. Again in March 1915, reportedly as part of the Central Park Gang of Tulsa, Oklahoma, he was arrested for robbery in Joplin, Missouri.

On July 4, 1918, Arthur “Doc” Barker was involved in automobile theft in Tulsa and arrested. He escaped. On February 19, 1920, he was captured in Joplin, Missouri and returned to Oklahoma.

In 1921, Lloyd “Red” Barker was arrested for vagrancy in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In January, 1921, Doc, using the alias Claude Dade, was involved in an attempted bank robbery in Muskegee, Oklahoma. He entered Oklahoma State Prison on January 30, 1921. On June 11, 1921, he was released.

On August 16, 1921, Doc and a man named Volney Davis were involved in the murder of a night watchman in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On January 8, 1922, Herman’s associates in the Central Park Gang were involved in a burglary in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. A gunfight ensued that left one gang member dead and one police captain, Homer R. Spaulding, wounded. Captain Spaulding died of his wounds on January, 19, 1922. One gang member was given a life sentence.

In January, 1922, Lloyd became a resident of Leavenworth Prison as the result of a mail robbery at Baxter Springs, Kansas. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison, which effectively kept him out of the Barker-Karpis Gang as it would come to be known. He was released in 1938.

In February, 1922, Doc entered the Oklahoma State Prison for his part in the murder of the night watchman in August, 1921.

In an attempt to further his resume, young Freddie Barker robbed a bank in Winfield, Kansas and was arrested. He entered Kansas State Prison on March 12, 1927.

On August 29, 1927, twenty days following the shooting death of Wichita policeman, J.E. Marshall, Herman Barker was stopped at a police roadblock in Wichita. He promptly pulled out a pistol and committed suicide!

In March, 1931, Freddie was released from prison. In June, 1931, he and prison acquaintance, Alvin Karpis were arrested for burglary in Tulsa. Both men were paroled. On November 8, 1931, Freddie killed Police Chief Manley Jackson, of Pocahontas, Oklahoma.

On December 19, 1931 Freddie and Alvin Karpis robbed a store in West Plains, Missouri and were implicated in the killing of Howell County sheriff, C. Roy Kelly. A wanted poster was issued by the Howell County, Missouri Sheriffs Office and the West Plains, Missouri Police Department in which Kate's photo was included as a member of the gang.

In April, 1932, the body of A. W. Dunlap was found at Lake Franstead, Minnesota. He had been killed by Freddie and Alvin Karpis. In June, 1932, Freddie, Alvin and five accomplices robbed a bank in Fort Scott, Kansas. In July of that year, three members of their gang were captured by the FBI.

On July 25, 1932, with a quickly-recruited gang, Freddie and Alvin robbed a bank in Concordia, Kansas.

On September 10, 1932, Doc was released from prison.

On December 16, 1932, Freddie, Doc, Alvin and the gang robbed the Third Northwestern Bank in Minneapolis, leaving behind one dead civilian and two dead police officers, Ira Leon Evans and Leo Gorski.

On April 4, 1933, they robbed a bank in Fairbury, Nebraska.

In June 1933, the gang committed their first kidnapping when they held William Hamm for ransom. It was paid and he was released later that month. In August of the same year, they robbed a payroll near St. Paul, Minnesota, leaving one policeman, Leo Pavlak, dead and one severely wounded.

In January, 1934, the gang kidnapped Edward George Bremer. He was released in February after the ransom was paid.

Between March, 1934 and January 1935, three gang members were killed in separate incidents. Fred Goetz was killed in Cicero, Illinois. William B. Harrison was killed in Ontarioville, Illinois. Doc was arrested in Chicago on January 8th and gang member Russell Gibson was killed, gang member Bryon Bolton was captured. Doc told the FBI nothing of the whereabouts of the others. Bolton told them that they had gone to Florida. He told them about a trip he had made to Florida and about a near-legendary, large alligator nicknamed Gator Joe. He jokingly added that maybe Freddie had gone there to try to kill Gator Joe. On the map found in Doc's apartment, the city of Ocala, Florida was circled. Freddie was the main target of the FBI at that time. At this point, the FBI office in Jacksonville was notified and an effort to pinpoint their location was underway.

An FBI agent learned of a large aligator named Gator Joe, who supposedly haunted the waters of Lake Weir, near the town of Ocklawaha. With that lead, the FBI concentrated their investigation on the Ocklawaha area.

Posing as J.E. Blackburn and wife, Ma and Freddie rented a house located at 13250 East County Highway 25 on the northern banks of Lake Weir, near the town of Ocklawaha, Florida. The neighbors thought they were an odd couple with him being so young and her being so much older. They didn't associate with the neighbors and frequently large cars were seen entering and leaving the place. Unknown to the Barkers, the FBI had the map they had taken from Doc's apartment and had been checking their mail through the postal service to positively identify them. Disguised as county road workers, the FBI kept surveilance on the house. Upon seeing the Blackburns, the FBI positively identified the Barkers. The FBI was under the impression that several members of the gang were in the house.

Just before daybreak on January 16, 1935, the FBI arrived outside the two-story house. There were agents from Jacksonville, reinforced by agents who had been flown in from Chicago and Cincinnatti. A call for their surrender was met with no response. After a few moments, Agent Earl Connelly of Cincinnatti yelled, "Unless you come on out, we're going to start shooting!"

Ma replied, "Go ahead." What followed was the longest gunbattle the FBI was ever involved in; it lasted four hours and there are reports that a minimum of 1500 rounds of ammunition were poured into the house.

The house in which they were killed is located at 13250 East County Highway 25 at the north end of Lake Weir. PLEASE BE ADVISED that this property is privately owned; DO NOT enter the property without permission of the owner and those living in the house.

The FBI requested that the bodies of Ma and Freddie be held in a morgue for an extended time, thinking that other gangmembers would show up to pay their respects - and be captured! Eight months later, they were removed from the morgue, transported to Welch, Oklahoma and buried alongside Herman, in the Williams Timberhill Cemetery. For more information, click here.

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