Barker/Karpis Gang Gallery 14

Barker/Karpis Gang Gallery

The dining and living rooms on the first floor of the Lake Weir cottage.
The dining and living rooms on the first floor of the Lake Weir cottage.


The shrewd Alvin Karpis (1907-1979) was the mastermind of the Barker/Karpis gang. He was arrested on May 1, 1936 in New Orleans and later sentenced to life in prison. He was paroled in 1969 and deported to Canada.

Alvin Karpis shows FBI agents in May 1936 how he had his fingertips altered to avoid capture. He also had changes made to his face. Both makeshift surgeries were performed by underworld physician Dr. Joseph Moran in 1934.

Arthur “Doc” or “Dock” Barker (1899-1939), who began his criminal career in 1918, was arrested by Bureau agents on January 8, 1935. This photograph was taken in 1922.

A criminal history card for Arthur Barker following his arrest showing that he was transferred to Alcatraz Prison on October 26, 1935. He died there trying to escape in January 1939.

The Barkers were heavily armed at the cottage, as evidenced by the cache of weapons recovered by agents after the firefight.

Fred Barker (1901-1935) was the third oldest of the Barker brothers. He met Alvin Karpis while in prison in Kansas. He died with his mother following a shootout with Bureau agents in Florida on January 16, 1935.

A photograph of Fred Barker around 1934. He was listed as 5’ 4 1/2” tall, weighing 115 pounds, with gunshot wounds on his inner wrist and the palm of his left hand.

An early criminal history record on Fred Barker.

Harry Sawyer, pictured with his wife Gladys, was captured by Bureau agents on May 3, 1935 in Mississippi. The pair ran an underworld tavern in St. Paul. Harry Sawyer was found guilty in court and received a life sentence in 1936. He was released from prison in 1955 for health reasons and died soon after.

Harry Campbell, a boyhood friend of the Barker brothers, was arrested by Bureau agents in Toledo, Ohio on May 7, 1936. Campbell was sentenced to life in prison the following May.

Kate “Ma” Barker had four sons, all of whom led lives of crime. She was not the criminal mastermind that the early Bureau made her out to be, but she was well aware of her sons’ activities and lived off the proceeds of their crimes. She died in a shootout with Bureau agents on the morning of January 16, 1935 near Oklawaha, Florida.

Fred and Ma Barker rented this two-story cottage on Lake Weir in Oklawaha, Florida on November 7, 1934. In just over two months’ time, Bureau agents would surround the cottage and call for the surrender of the Barkers. The ensuring firefight would leave both Barkers dead.

The Lake Weir cottage from the back.

The dining and living rooms on the first floor of the Lake Weir cottage.

Russell Gibson, also known as “Slim Gray,” was shot and killed by Bureau agents on January 8, 1935. As he lay dying, he refused to provide information to law enforcement.

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