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What could go wrong? This device invented by retired policeman Elmer Carlstrom seemed Dick Tracy-like Carlstrom claimed the device was ?effective enough to rout a gang of payroll bandits and small enough to be concealed in a shirt sleeve.?

Kate ?Ma? Barker and Her Horrible?Children

Eighty years ago, Edward Bremer, Jr., heir to the Schmidt Brewery fortune, was kidnapped by the Barker-Karpis gang.

After Bremer dropped his daughter off at the Summit School in St. Paul, he was ambushed and thrown in a car. He was held for 10 days, until his family paid a $200,000 ransom. Part of this ransom money was used to bribe police who were on the take. When Prohibition was repealed and liquor was legal, they switched from bootlegging to kidnapping. The same corrupt cops that had looked the other way during the bootlegging era were also involved with kidnappings and other more nefarious deeds.

Bremer helped federal investigators find his captors. He memorized every detail about his surroundings.

When the FBI investigated the case, he was able to identify the specific wallpaper in the home where he was kept. That enabled the FBI to break the case and arrest the Barker-Karpis gang.”

The gang was led by two brothers, Doc and Freddy Barker, who are?described as “psychopaths,” and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, who was one of the most infamous gangsters of the period.

After weeks of planning at the behest of underworld kingpin Harry Sawyer, for the second time the Barker-Karpis Gang decides to forgo the energy and danger required to rob banks, and instead pursues a big buck payday by kidnapping the thirty-four-year-old president of the Commercial State Bank of St. Paul, Minnesota (and son of the millionaire owner of the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company, a personal friend of President Roosevelt) … Edward G. Bremer.

Seemingly a normal day, though a bit on the frosty side, Bremer is right on time as his morning routines begin at his mansion at 92 North Mississippi River Boulevard … dressing for work, breakfast with the family, a drive in his black Lincoln sedan with his nine-year-old daughter Betty to her third-grade classes at the Summit School, then at 8:30, off to the bank at Washington and Sixth. ?Typical, normal, routine … but that all changes when he brakes at the stop sign on the corner of Lexington Parkway and Goodrich Avenue.

As Bremer stops, Freddy Barker, Harry Campbell, and Shotgun George Ziegler block the banker’s Lincoln with their own black sedan. ?At the same time, another vehicle containing Dock Barker, Volney Davis, and Alvin Karpis pulls up behind, boxing Bremer in. Jumping out of their car, Davis and Barker approach the banker with pistols at the ready. ?”Don’t move or I’ll kill you,” Dock orders. ?Panicking though, Bremer does move, putting the Lincoln in gear and trying to butt his way out of the trap he is in, then as that fails, attempting to escape out of the passenger side door. ?For his efforts, he is rewarded with a pistol whipping to his head that leaves blood all over the front seat of the car. ?Violently subdued, Bremer is shoved back into his car and has his eyes covered by a set of goggles with their lenses taped so he can’t see … then all three cars, precisely following the speed limit, drive away and out into the countryside … the kidnapping has taken less than two minutes, and not a single local has witnessed the event.

Adolph and Edward Bremer Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Bremer’s car

Edward G. Bremer

Before Bremer is driven south, to a house just outside of Chicago in Bensenville, Illinois, where he will be held until a ransom is paid, he signs two notes which state the gang’s demands with the hoodlum’s using a St. Paul contractor named Walter W. Magee, a friend of the Bremer Family, as the contact point … the payoff to return the banker is $200,000, the bills must be of the five and ten dollar variety only, none new, and none with consecutive numbers, the money is to be placed in two large suitcases, and when ready, the family is to place an ad in the Minneapolis Tribune personal column stating “We are ready Alice.”

While a back and forth of notes, telephone calls, and newspaper ads goes on for days, the FBI investigation of the case is at first led by Special Agent in Charge of St. Paul, Werner Hanni, who places eighteen separate taps at the brewery and the Bremer homes in St. Paul … and the gang’s tensions grow. ?Unlike with their kidnapping of William Hamm the previous year, this time they have a captive who constantly complains about the situation he is in and the conditions he must endure … grumblings that cause Freddy to almost kill Bremer several times (surprisingly, the man who talks him down from his murderous intentions is his equally unstable brother, Dock … greed overcoming ire).

One of the men who approached him was Arthur ?Doc? Barker, brother of Fred and son of Kate ?Ma? Barker.? Bremer was repeatedly punched and pistol-whipped and thrown into the back of his own car and blindfolded.? When the car was found later concerns were raised over Bremer?s fate given the amount of blood found in the vehicle.

Bremer was held captive in Bensenville, Illinois while the gang made demands for a two hundred thousand dollar ransom.? Bremer?s father Adolph attempted to negotiate a reduced ransom while demanding proof of life.? After tense back and forth negotiations and demands the ransom was paid, although Fred Barker had wanted to kill Edward when his father began dickering with the demanded sum.

The FBI was on top of this case, however, after recording the serial numbers of the cash delivered to the gang.? An intense investigation ensued, although at first Bremer refused to cooperate fearing for his family?s safety.? Presuming Karpis to have been the gang?s leader, the FBI designated him ?Public Enemy No. 1?, a term adopted by J. Edgar Hoover in the 1930?s.

Frank J. Loesch, chairman of the Chicago Crime Commission, had first used the term in April 1930 in referring to Al Capone, the city?s most famous gangster.? The FBI used the term when referring to dangerous criminals and fugitives like John Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson, and now Alvin Karpis and the mother of his partners, Kate ?Ma? Barker.

Hoover considered Ma Barker (born Arizona Donnie Clark) ?the most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade.?

Finally, despite protests from the FBI, on 2/6/34, $200,000 is readied for delivery (with every serial number documented) and given to Magee … at a little after 7:00, he begins following the directions of the gang for where to drop the money. ?First he is sent to a spot on University Avenue where a Chevy coupe has been left, instructions tell him to drive the car to the bus station in Farmington, a town roughly twenty miles south of St. Paul.

Arriving in Farmington, he next follows the 9:15 bus to Rochester through the towns of Cannon Falls and Zumbrota, until he sees four red lights on a hill ahead. ?The signal to proceed three hundred feet further and turn on to a dirt road, doing as told to in the note he’d been left earlier, Magee stops when a car?materializes behind him and flashes its headlights five times, removes the money from the Chevy, leaves it on the dirt track, and then follows the road to the small town of Mazeppa, before heading back to St. Paul.

The next day, after Bremer is allowed to shave and put into new clothes (the ones he wore since the kidnapping are burnt so the FBI will have no potential clues upon his return), a handkerchief is put over his eyes, he is placed on the back floorboards of a Buick the gang has stolen, and Karpis, with Dock in the front passenger seat, stopping once at a spot where they’ve left gas cans to refuel, drives the banker to Rochester, Minnesota, releasing him behind a downtown build at about 8:00 in the evening after telling the banker to count to fifteen before removing his blindfold. ?Free at last, Bremer has been in captivity for twenty-one days.

Reporters, in the old days actually getting outside and talking to people while looking for a story.. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Man selling newspapers with headline related to Bremer kidnapping, 1935. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.

The kidnappers are gleeful at the successful conclusion of their caper, but the crime will eventually prove to be the undoing of the Barker-Karpis Gang.

Kate (Ma) Barker?(n?e?Clark; October 8, 1873 ? January 16, 1935) better known as?Ma Barker, and sometimes as?Arizona Barker, was the mother of several criminals who ran the?Barker gang?during the “public enemy?era”, when the exploits of gangs of criminals in the?U.S.?Midwest?gripped the American people and press. She traveled with her sons during their criminal careers.

After Barker was killed during a shoot-out with the FBI, she gained a reputation as a ruthless crime matriarch who controlled and organized her sons’ crimes.?J. Edgar Hoover described her as “the most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade”. Ma Barker has been presented as a monstrous mother in films, songs and literature. However, those who knew her insisted she had no criminal role.

Born Arizona Clark in Ash Grove, Missouri, the daughter of John and Emaline (Parker) Clark, her family called her “Arrie”. In 1892 she married George Barker, in Lawrence County, Missouri. The couple had four sons – Herman (1893?1927), Lloyd (1897?1949), Arthur (1899?1939) and Fred (1901?1935). The 1910 to 1930 censuses and the Tulsa City Directories from 1916 to 1928 show that George Barker worked in a variety of generally low-skilled jobs. From 1916 to 1919, he was at the Crystal Springs Water Co. In the 1920s, he was employed as a farmer, watchman, station engineer, and clerk. An FBI document describes him as “shiftless” and says the Barkers paid no attention to their sons’ education. As a result, they were all “more or less illiterate.”

Barker’s sons committed crimes as early as 1910, when Herman Barker was arrested for highway robbery after running over a child in the getaway car. Over the next few years, Herman and his brothers Lloyd, Fred and Arthur were repeatedly involved in crimes of increasing seriousness, including robbery and murder. They were inducted into major crime by the Central Park gang. Herman died on August 29, 1927, in Wichita, Kansas, after a robbery and confrontation with police that left one officer dead. He shot the officer at point blank range in the mouth. He killed himself to avoid prosecution when he was seriously wounded after crashing his car. In 1928, Lloyd Barker was incarcerated in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, Arthur “Doc” Barker was in the Oklahoma State Prison, and Fred was in the Kansas State Prison.

Ma Barker and her Thompson gun in an undated picture of the legendary matriarch.

All along it seemed Kate was in one way or another enabling her son?s criminal behaviour as she would defend her sons by first arguing their innocence, and failing that, claim they were being persecuted ? they were good boys after all.? If that tactic didn?t succeed she would plead for clemency.? What mother wouldn?t defend her sons?

Edgar Hoover saw it differently: ?Home again with her guilty offspring there would be bitter upbraiding for the clumsiness of flight which had led to their capture.??Hoover opined Kate?s defense was only teaching her sons (and herself) how to become more ruthlessly criminal.? It would do no good to punish them since in her mind they had done no wrong.

The boys joined the Central Park gang, innocent school boys by day and perpetrating robberies by night.? Mother ?Ma? Barker, as she became known, opened her home and allowed the gang to meet there.? While the gang schemed she would sit and listen, offering suggestions to skirt the laws.? This gained her a reputation and word spread about a place in Tulsa where a criminal could get protection and shrewd advice.

Criminals released from prison would seek her out upon their release.? If a crook needed a partner for a job, Ma was the one to see to make it happen.? Ma didn?t run a house of ill repute, however, since she banned both liquor and women.? She seems to have been well-paid for her advice, enjoying a life of luxury.? Amazingly, however, she was only charged with one crime ? the boys did her dirty work.

Ma Barker feeling festive?

George is last listed living with his wife in the 1928 Tulsa city directory. He was either thrown out by Arrie, as some say, or he left when life with his criminal family became intolerable. According to writer Miriam Allen deFord, after Herman’s death and the imprisonment of his other sons, George “gave up completely and quietly removed himself from the scene.” The FBI claimed that George left Ma for other reasons: because she had become “loose in her moral life” and was “having outside dates with other men”. They noted that though George was not a criminal, he was willing to “profit” from his son’s crimes after their deaths by claiming their assets as next of kin. However, a family friend recalled that George and Arrie argued about their children’s “dissolute life”. While Arrie “countenenced their wrongdoings”, George refused to accept them. The crunch came when George refused to support Lloyd after his arrest, insisting he should be punished for his crime. Arrie did everything she could to get her sons off, no matter what they had done.

From 1928 to 1931 Ma lived in “miserable poverty” in a “dirt-floor shack” with no husband and no job, while all her sons were in jail. This may have been when she became “loose” with local men, as the FBI suggested. By 1930 Arrie was living with a jobless man named Arthur W. Dunlop (sometimes spelled “Dunlap”). She is described as his wife on the 1930 census of Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma. Things improved for her in 1931 after her son Fred was released from jail. He joined former prison-mate Alvin Karpis to form the Barker-Karpis gang. After a series of robberies, Fred and Karpis killed sheriff C. Roy Kelly in West Plains, MO on December 19, 1931, an act that forced them to flee the territory. Ma and her lover Dunlop traveled with them, using various false names during their itinerant crime career. A wanted poster issued at this time offers $100 reward for the capture of “Old Lady Arrie Barker” as an accomplice. After this, she was usually known to gang members as “Kate”.

When Arthur was released in 1932, he joined Fred and Karpis. The core gang was also supplemented by other criminal associates. The gang moved first to Chicago, but decided to leave because Karpis did not want to work for Al Capone. Racketeer Jack Peifer suggested that they should come to St. Paul, Minnesota, a town which had a reputation at the time as a haven for wanted criminals. The Barker-Karpis gang’s most infamous crimes were committed after the move to St. Paul, during their residency in a string of rented houses in and around the town. In St. Paul, the gang operated under the protection of the city’s corrupt police chief, Thomas “Big Tom” Brown, and under his guidance, graduated from bank robbers to kidnappers.

Ma’s common-law husband Arthur Dunlop was said to be loose-lipped when drunk, and was not trusted by members of the gang. He was described as a “pain in the ass” by Karpis. While at one hideout, a local resident identified the gang from photographs in True Detective magazine, and told the police. Brown tipped off the gang, and they escaped. Wrongly believing that Dunlop’s loose lips had given them away, they apparently murdered him while travelling. His naked body, with a single bullet wound to the head, was found near Webster, Wisconsin. Though Tom Brown’s involvement in the gang’s escape could not be proved, he was demoted to the rank of detective and was later dismissed from the police force. For a time the gang relocated to Menomonie, Wisconsin.

During this time, Fred Barker stashed Ma Barker in a variety of hotels and hideouts. The purpose was to keep her from learning much about the gang’s crimes, as well as to separate her from the gang’s girlfriends, with whom she did not get along. Indeed the FBI later claimed that Ma would try to break up any relationships, so that “other women in the gang” did their best to avoid Ma. By 1933 most of the gang were back in St. Paul, where they planned and carried out two kidnappings of wealthy local businessmen. After successfully obtaining $100,000 ransom after abducting William Hamm, they then arranged the kidnapping of Edward Bremer, from which they netted a $200,000 ransom. The FBI first connected the gang to the William Hamm kidnapping by using a then new method of latent fingerprint identification. With the FBI now on the case and without Tom Brown supplying information, the gang decided to leave St. Paul. They moved to the Chicago area, renting apartments for Ma Barker while they tried to launder the ransom.

The main turning point for the FBI and possibly the biggest mistake of Ma?s gangland sons, was to eliminate one of their own. George Ziegler had been one of the masterminds behind the planning and kidnap of Edward Bremer. But he had become a loose cannon, boasting about his exploits and drawing attention to himself. The Barker boys decided that he needed to be silenced.?On 22 March 1934, Karpis and the Barker men shot Ziegler as he was coming out of his favorite restaurant in Cicero, Illinois. The attack, according to documents, nearly decapitated him. But Ziegler?s corpse, that was left for the police to investigate, held important information on the gang?s names including other valuable details. The agents could use this information to pick each member off, one by one.

FBI agents discovered the hideout of Barker and her son, Fred, after Arthur “Doc” Barker was arrested in Chicago on January 8, 1935. A map found in his possession indicated that other gang members were in Ocklawaha, Florida. The FBI soon located the house where the gang was staying after identifying references to a local alligator named “Gator Joe”, mentioned in a letter sent to Doc. They had rented the property under the pseudonym “Blackburn”, claiming to be a mother and sons wanting to vacation in a country retreat.

Agents surrounded the house at 13250 East Highway C-25 on the morning of January 16, 1935. Unknown to the FBI, Karpis and other gang members had left three days before, leaving only Fred and Ma in the house.

Just before daybreak an army of FBI agents arrived outside the two-story house where Barker and her son Fred were hiding out. A call for their surrender was met with no response. After a few moments, FBI Agent Earl Connelly yelled, “Unless you come on out, we’re going to start shooting!”

“Go ahead” was the reply. What followed was the longest gunbattle the FBI was ever involved in; it lasted four hours and there are reports that at least 1500 rounds of ammunition were poured into the house.

Ordered to surrender, Fred opened fire; both he and his mother were killed by federal agents after an intense, hours-long shootout. Allegedly, many local people came to watch the events unfolding, even holding picnics during the gunfire. After gunfire ceased coming from the house, the FBI ordered local estate handyman Willie Woodbury to enter the house wearing a bulletproof vest. Woodbury reported that there was no one inside alive.

Both bodies were found in the same front bedroom. Fred’s body was riddled with bullets, but Ma appeared to have died from a single bullet wound. According to the FBI’s account, a Tommy gun was found lying in her hands. Other sources say it was lying between the bodies of Ma and Fred. Their bodies were put on public display, and then stored unclaimed, until October 1, 1935, when relatives had them buried at Williams Timberhill Cemetery in Welch, Oklahoma, next to the body of Herman Barker.

It is said that Herbert Hoover personally authorized the disinformation campaign to defend the shooting of an innocent old woman by the FBI.?J. Edgar Hoover served as director for the Bureau Of Investigation starting in 1924, but his duties there increased in scope in the early 1930s, with the rise in mob and gang violence in America. The Federal Bureau of Investigation was coined in 1935, and Ma Barker, according to Hoover, was suddenly public enemy number one. Hoover warned the public that Ma, who had little more than a grade school education, was the dangerous mastermind behind the criminal behavior of the Barker-Karpis gang.

Weapons found inside the cottage – Courtesy FBI

On-lookers gather on Jan. 17, 1953, to view the house where outlaws “Ma” Kate Barker and her son Fred Barker barricaded themselves and opened fire on federal agents surrounding the place in Oklawaha, Florida. ?That woman is still in that house,? resident and retired upstate New York police officer Donald Weiss told the paper. ?And she?s pissed.?
Weiss visited the famous home ? where Barker was killed in the longest shoot-out in FBI history in 1935 ? and saw a Tommy-gun-toting figure lurking on the front porch, he claimed.??Get outta here, lawman!? Ma?s spirit raged, he said.?Weiss said he snapped a photo of the spirit and, after he developed it, creepy things started happening.
?I had a heart attack. You think that?s a coincidence?? he said.
Others say they too have seen Ma?s ghost, including a photographer working for the Tampa Bay Times in 2012.
John Pendygraft snapped a photo of the outside of the home, and, ?The next day, when he zoomed in on his laptop, he saw a strange figure on the screened porch: The silhouette of a stout woman with a bun, who looked like she was holding a machine gun,? the paper reported.
And the home?s last private owner, Carson Good, also recalled things going bump in the night.
?I?m not a big believer of ghosts, but I heard a lot of sounds in that house,? he told the site. ?Voices. Furniture moving. People walking up and down the wooden stairs.? Good, 47, even brought in a psychic and held a s?ance to force her to vamoose ? but the medium said ol? Ma refused to budge.
And why should she? Ma worked hard to retire in the home by the lake.

“Ma” and Fred Barker died in the upper left bedroom of this house beside Lake Weir in Florida .

Official Record~ The FBI Shootout With “Ma” Barker & Son, Fred Barker

The Bureau’s raid on the cottage near the shores of Lake Weir, Fla., in January, 1935 was a direct result of a map and other items of evidence found just days earlier in Chicago where “Doc” Barker was taken into custody by Agents there.

SAC Earl J. Connelley, who led both the Chicago raid and the Florida raid, was appointed by Director Hoover to assume the duties of Inspector Samuel Cowley who was killed in November, 1934 with Agent Herman Hollis in the battle at Barrington, IL with “Baby Face” Nelson and John Paul Chase.? Connelley’s role as a leader of men, and the investigations, during some of the Bureau’s most renowned moments of the gangster era and up to the case of the Nazi saboteurs off Long Island, NY is often forgotten about by many today.

Our own review of nearly a thousand pages surrounding the raid at Lake Weir originated from the FBI’s released case file on the Bremer kidnapping, Part 89. (There’s over 400 sections to this file alone.)? While we do not attempt to address the entire Bremer investigation, nor all of the activities of the Barker/Karpis gang,? the purpose here was to retrieve those historical records related directly to the assault on the Barker cottage, obtain the shootout details,? attempt to determine what weapons the Agents and the Barkers used and resolve the questions about who was actually present from the Bureau.

(The Connelley report, and some others, are difficult to read in some places due to the poor quality. We suggest you enlarge the pages.)

The battle at Lake Weir, Fla. was one of the many epic Bureau shootouts of the time.? The raid lasted from approximately 7am that day until 11am – 12Noon.? E. J. Connelley’s summary report below is a highly detailed examination of what took place, weapons used and more.? Any “yellow notes” you see on documents are mine.? Although we have not included the statements of each Agent present, they are available in the file, but do not contain anything to change Connelley’s report. ?(Standard procedure in the Bureau is to incorporate those statements into an overall report).

We have included the statements of SAs Charles Winstead and J. C. “Doc” White because of the amount of inquiries that seem to surface over what they did and didn’t do at the scene.

We found no documentation revealing that Hoover, or anyone else within the Bureau, was overly concerned with potential public relations problems in that they “killed someone’s mother” or that “Ma” Barker had been some innocent civilian killed accidentally.? In one memorandum, Clyde Tolson revealed to Hoover and others that the shooting was totally justified by the mere fact that she had fired upon the agents while resisting arrest.

The links below will take you to the various original FBI documents of the 1935 raid::

Connections Between Karpis & Dillinger

FBI Memo on Getting Ready for the Raid

Map of FBI Positions

Memo from J. Edgar Hoover

Special Agent C. B. Winstead Report

Faded Glory: Dusty Roads of an FBI Era

Special Agent in Charge E. J. Connelley Report

Special Agent J. C. Doc White Report

Faded Glory: Dusty Roads of an FBI Era

Weapons Receipt and Listing

After she died in an intense shootout, J. Edgar Hoover, head of the newly minted FBI, claimed that 61-year-old Ma Barker was the mastermind behind one of the most successful criminal gangs of the Great Depression era. But those who knew her said she was simply just a mother trying to keep her delinquent boys out of jail.?As the Barker-Karpis gang worked out of Chicago and then St. Paul, Fred Barker worked hard to keep Ma away from the action. He was worried for her safety, but he also aimed to keep her separated from the string of girlfriends that the gang members kept. Ma frequently voiced an adamant dislike of the many girlfriends. The gang pulled off a steady series of robberies for the next few years to keep themselves afloat and stay ahead of the law.?Newspapers and police profiled the gang of criminals as a group of carefree men, with Ma at the helm, planning every crime. Soon the Barker-Karpis gang became some of the most wanted criminals in America.

The popular image of her as the gang’s leader and its criminal mastermind, portrayed in films such as Ma Barker’s Killer Brood (1960), Bloody Mama (1970) and Public Enemies (1996), is widely regarded by historians as fictitious. The suggestion that she participated in the shoot-out in which she died has also been treated with skepticism. Many, including Karpis, have suggested that the myth was encouraged by J. Edgar Hoover and his fledgling Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to justify his agency’s killing of an old lady.After her death, Hoover claimed that Mrs. Barker was “the most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade”. He also claimed that she enjoyed the lifestyle that was the fruit of her sons’ crimes and supposedly had a string of lovers.

Though her children were undoubtedly murderers and their Barker-Karpis Gang committed a spree of robberies, kidnappings, and other crimes between 1931 and 1935, there is no evidence that “Ma” was their leader or was even significantly involved. Mrs. Barker certainly knew of the gang’s activities and even helped them before and after they committed their crimes. This would make her an accomplice, but there is no evidence that she was ever an active participant in any of the crimes themselves or was even involved in planning them. Her role was in taking care of gang members, who often sent her to the movies while they committed crimes. Her age and apparent respectability permitted the gang to hide out ‘disguised’ as a family. As ‘Mrs. Hunter’ and ‘Mrs. Anderson’, she rented houses, paid bills, shopped, and did household errands. Age made Kate more socially invisible than a moll.

Alvin Karpis, the gang’s second most notorious member, later said that Ma was just “an old-fashioned homebody from the Ozarks…superstitious, gullible, simple, cantankerous and, well, generally law abiding”. He concluded that:

?The most ridiculous story in the annals of crime is that Ma Barker was the mastermind behind the Karpis-Barker gang. . . . She wasn’t a leader of criminals or even a criminal herself. There is not one police photograph of her or set of fingerprints taken while she was alive . . . she knew we were criminals but her participation in our careers was limited to one function: when we travelled together, we moved as a mother and her sons. What could look more innocent??

This view of Ma Barker is corroborated by notorious bank robber Harvey Bailey, who knew the Barkers well. He observed in his autobiography that Ma Barker “couldn’t plan breakfast” let alone a criminal enterprise.

Ma Barker’s sole surviving son, Lloyd, joined the US Army as a cook, received the US Army Good Conduct Medal and Honorable Discharge. On March 18, 1949 Lloyd Barker was killed by his wife who was later sent to Colorado State Insane Asylum.

Speculation remains as to why Hoover was so intent on incriminating Ma Barker for the crimes of her sons. Perhaps putting a female face to the pictures, that of a mother, made the crimes of the Barker-Karpis gang seem much more impactful against the backdrop of the mob-filled, depression era scene. Perhaps Hoover had something to prove, with a new position as Director of the newly minted FBI. Or maybe, Ma Barker was really a dangerous criminal, the mastermind behind some of the most heinous acts in history. It’s impossible to say, really?those secrets only sleep with Ma Barker now.

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