For sale in florida the house where gangster ma barker died la gas prices


The house, a wooden two-story with a wide screened porch, is mostly unchanged since Ma Barker rented it under an alias in November 1934. The shattered windows have been repaired; plaster masks hundreds of bullet holes. Inside, the beds, the refrigerator, even the blue china tea cups are the same ones the gangsters used the day they died.

Sotheby’s is accepting bids through Oct. 26 — and wants at least $1 million. That’s roughly comparable to the sale prices of nearby homes. "The land alone is worth $700,000," says Arnold. "Add that to the value of the two existing homes and we come close to that million already. We haven’t even factored in the value of all the memorabilia inside, or what that historic event adds."

The Barker brothers’ crime wave started in 1910, when Herman robbed a bank in Webb City, Mo. Blood began flowing in 1921 when Arthur murdered a night watchman, then Herman helped gun down a police captain. That same year, Freddie robbed his first bank.

Gangsters terrorized the country through the ’20s and ’30s. Headline writers nicknamed them, to make them sound more glamorous: Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, Bonnie and Clyde. No one knows if Ma Barker ran the gang that is said to have stolen $2 million and killed at least 10 people — or if she just fed her boys, kept house for them and mothered them between murders.

Alvin "Creepy" Karpis met Freddie in prison in 1931, and when they were released Karpis joined the family. He swore Ma Barker never took part in any of their crimes, said they always sent her to the movies while they were working. In his memoir, Karpis wrote, "Ma saw a lot of movies."

In 1933 the gang staged their first kidnapping — a millionaire Minnesota brewer. They received $100,000 in ransom and let the man go unharmed. The next year, they captured St. Paul banker Edward George Bremer, doubled their asking price, and got the nation’s attention.

Bremer was a friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who talked about the kidnapping during a fireside chat. The FBI’s first director, J. Edgar Hoover, set a $1,200 bounty on the Barker Gang and declared them "the worst criminals in the entire country." Ma Barker became the only woman to ever top the FBI’s most wanted list. She may not have been a killer, but she was the mama of four killers — and that was enough.

"Ma registered at the posh El Commodore Hotel as Mrs. T.C. Blackburn and son," Myron Quimby wrote in 1969 in The Devil’s Emissaries. She "seemed like a gracious lady with wealth seeking a quiet and remote spot for a long vacation from the cold of the north." Someone introduced her to an associate of Carson Bradford, a wealthy furniture maker. "Bradford owned such a place on the banks of Lake Weir."

Relatives say Bradford’s wife didn’t want to rent their pretty white cottage near Ocala. But "Mrs. Blackburn" seemed sweet and matronly, and she had enough cash to cover the whole winter. So just before Thanksgiving 1934, Freddie drove Ma in his shiny new Buick to the tiny town of Ocklawaha, population 600, with a general store and a single telephone. They turned onto a dirt lane leading to the water, steered between live oaks laced with Spanish moss, and parked beside the hideout that would become their first real home in decades — and their last.

"They repaired that mirror by the door. Gunfire had shattered it," says Arnold, who tracked down FBI files about the case. "To my mind, that was the last thing Fred saw when he looked out those windows at all those agents: a reflection of himself in that mirror, realizing."

Ma Barker, Freddie, and some of the gang spent Christmas in the secluded lake house. Neighbors saw them buying groceries, having picnics, even going to church. At sundown, Freddie and his friends would take out the motor boat to search for a 15-foot gator locals called Old Joe.

In the predawn darkness of Jan. 16, a dozen FBI shooters circled the two-story home. They hid behind the oaks, beside the garage, in the boathouse, bearing shields and extra rounds for their machine guns. According to a typed report in the federal agency’s files, an officer shouted, "This is the FBI. You are surrounded. Unless you come out, we’ll use tear gas."

Ma and Freddie, running between the upstairs bedrooms, kept firing their Thompson machine guns, kept reloading the 100-cartridge drums. They shot Colt .45s, .350-caliber Colt pistols, a Browning automatic, a Remington pump shotgun. All morning, bullets sailed through the Spanish moss.

When the firing stopped from inside, no FBI agents had been injured. They waited a few minutes — then sent in a young man who had cooked for the Barkers. He found Ma and Freddie in the front bedroom, slumped side by side. Freddie, 32, looked like he had been heading for the door when a shot struck the back of his head. Ma, 63, was curled up, cradling her Tommy gun.

The legend of Ma Barker has long permeated pop culture. Her character was in a 1959 episode of television’s The Untouchables. The same year, Jimmy Stewart battled the Barkers in a movie called The FBI Story. Batman confronted her in his 1966 season. And in 1970, Shelly Winters starred with Robert De Niro in the low budget film Bloody Mama. Even Disney’s Duck Tales included episodes about a band of bad dogs led by Ma Beagle.

We start at the boathouse, a long wooden box perched on the north shore of Lake Weir. Ma Barker sat on this dock 77 years ago, writing letters to her son, describing an enormous alligator named Old Joe. • Not long after, federal agents hid out in this boathouse, with machine guns at the ready. • This is where the bloody Barker gang met its end in the FBI’s longest shootout. Now this bullet-pocked slice of history can be yours.