I don’t know about y’all but when I think of gangs, Mafia, and famous shootouts, I think of that stuff happening more in the Midwest than the Sunshine state. So I was quite surprised to learn about the shootout between Ma Barker; her son, Fred; and the FBI took place at a Florida vacation rental house but I wasn’t surprised to hear how her spirit is unhappy with what has been going since her death.
Ma Barker was born Arizona Clark on October 8, 1873 in Ash Grove, Missouri. She often went by the name Kate Barker. She married her husband, George Barker in 1972 when she was 19 years old. They would go on to have four sons: Herman, Lloyd, Arthur, and Fred. Her husband and her sons were not the best citizens. Her sons were part of the Barker- Karpis gang and were implicated in robbery, forgery, kidnapping, and murder. J. Edgar Hoover told the tabloid papers that Ma Barker and her kids were “Public Enemy Number One” and that Ma Barker herself was “The most vicious, dangerous and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade”. I won’t go into the details of their crimes because that would make this post ridiculously long.
At the height of the FBI searching for the Barkers, they decided to hide out for a bit. Ma Barker used an alias to trick the owners of a vacation rental house in Ocklawaha, Florida into renting the house to her. They stayed there for several weeks before the FBI figured out where they were staying. The FBI found out thanks to a letter from an associate of the Barkers. The associate had made a reference to “Gator Joe”. Gator Joe was an alligator that the Florida FBI considered a mascot of sorts for them.
On January 16, 1935, Ma Barker and Fred were the only ones in the house. Fred’s brothers were out of town at the time. The FBI agents surrounded the house and demanded that they come out and surrender. Fred, instead, decided to shoot first which triggered a large shootout to begin between them and the FBI agents. The shootout lasted over six hours and over 2000 bullets used during the course of the shootout. When it was all over, Fred was shot in the back of the head and Ma Barker was shot in the chest. According to FBI reports, Ma Barker died clutching her Tommy gun. Fred and Mar Barker’s remains were kept on public display from January to October 1 before their family was allowed to finally have them buried.
Since their deaths, the house has had several reports of paranormal activity. One of the more curious reports comes from a retired New York police officer, Donald Weiss. He had come down to Florida on vacation and decided to take a tour of the house. While standing in the backyard, Weiss said he heard a gruff female voice snarl at him “Get outta here, lawman!” Weiss also took a photo of the front porch. After having the film developed, he was surprised to see a shadowy figure on the porch. The figure resembled a stout woman with her hair in a bun. Shortly after his trip, Weiss suffered a heart attack. He contributes the heart attack to Ma Barker striking out at him.
Donald Weiss’ experiences aren’t the only reports of paranormal activity. Voices have been heard through out the house. People have reported hearing furniture moving and visitors have said that while in one of the bedrooms, the mattress dropped out the bed frame without anyone touching the bed. Ma Barker has been spotted walking around the backyard at night by visitors. Those staying at the house have reported hearing footsteps going up and down stairs throughout the night. There have also been reports of ghost hunters who were investigating the house who tried to force the spirit of Ma Barker out of the house (I don’t know what their supposed methods were and I do not agree with forcing a spirit out of what they consider their home) but according to them Ma Barker refused to leave.
In 2016, the house itself was sold and moved across the lake to be turned into a museum. Since it was moved, the paranormal activity has calmed down some but not completely. People are still reporting loud voices but unable to distinguish what is being said, footsteps, and furniture sounding like its moving around. Ma Barker hasn’t been seen as much since the move but people say she is still there.
Have you heard of the Barker- Karpis Gang? Do you believe the rumors about Ma Barker being the mastermind of the gang? Or do you think she is innocent of all the evil she is accused of? Do you think her spirit is left behind because she was innocent and she wants others to know that or do you think she is still here due to the manner she was killed? Do you think it is just Ma Barker haunting the house or do you think Fred and maybe her other sons are there, too, with her? Do you think spirits can cause heart attacks or was that just a coincidence since he had just visited there? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Come back Wednesday for a new post. Wednesday’s post may have some slight deja vu feelings at first but I promise this is something quite different. I do want to warn you though that some of the post will have some sensitive topics discussed in it but I will clearly label that section so you can scroll past it if need be. For my true crime lovers, you will definitely want to check it out. For my paranormal lovers, it will definitely be creepy and dark. Hopefully all of y’all enjoy reading it.