Between kidnappings, Ma Barker and her gang hid out in a small, West St. Paul home. And now it's for sale.
Kate "Ma" Barker, her two sons – Arthur “Doc” Barker and Fred Barker – and Alvin "Creepy" Karpis were the main members of the Barker-Karpis gang that during the early 1930s terrorized the Midwest, robbing banks and trains, and kidnapping two prominent Minnesotans for ransom money (more on that below).
And for a few months in the early 1930s, the gang hid in plain sight at a three-bedroom duplex, located at 1031 Robert St. S. in West St. Paul, a 2015 Facebook post by the city said.
Ma Barker and her gang
After kidnapping William A. Hamm Jr. – the president of the Theodore Hamm Brewing Company – in the summer of 1933 and holding him for a ransom of more than $100,000, members of the Barker-Karpis gang rented the West St. Paul home from a man named Nick Hannegraf, according to the City of West St. Paul's Facebook post.
Those who lived in the area at the time didn't realize the gang was hiding out between kidnappings. They described Ma Barker as being "friendly," the gang was described as being "very good customers" by nearby business owners, and neighbors remember the Barker sons always carrying violin cases.
They lived there for three months as they planned to kidnap another prominent Minnesotan, Twin Cities banker Edward G. Bremer, who they held for a ransom of $200,000.
After the Bremer kidnapping on Jan. 17, 1934, the gang split up, according to the FBI. And neighbors remember the Barkers left the Robert Street house quickly – food was still cooking on the stove, and the gang only grabbed their guns and a small dog, the Facebook post said.
Doc Barker was eventually arrested at a home in Chicago in December 1934. Ma Barker and Fred Barker were killed in a gun battle with the FBI at a home in Florida in January 1935 (that house went on the market a few years ago for $1 million).
By that point most of the members of the Barker-Karpis gang had been arrested or killed. Except for Karpis. He was on the run until May 1936, when J. Edgar Hoover arrested him.
Despite Ma Barker being arguably the most famous member of the Barker-Karpis gang, she wasn't much of a criminal herself – she was just known to help her sons, the FBI said. Karpis – the second-most famous member of the gang – was once quoted saying: "Her participation in our careers was limited to one function: When we traveled together, we moved as a mother and her sons. What could look more innocent?"
For more on the Barker-Karpis gang, click here.