DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Ma Barker (aged 61)
-American mother of several criminals who ran the Barker gang
Kate (Ma) Barker (née Clark; October 8, 1873 – January 16, 1935), better known as Ma Barker, and sometimes as Arizona Barker, was an American mother of several criminals who ran the Barker gangduring 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.
DEATH: 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. 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.