Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NOT THE BRIGHTEST LIGHT BULBS

12/19/1931 - Lingering about town because they plan on robbing the local bank, not thinking properly, two days after robbing the C. C. McCallon clothing store of West Plains, Missouri of $2,000 in socks, ties, gloves, sweaters, and shirts of the latest fashions, now dapperly dressed bandits Freddy Barker and Alvin "Creepy" Karpis (Karpis will always claim "Lapland Willie" Weaver is the actual party involved, but the FBI fingers the creepy one) decide their blue Desoto sedan is in need of tire repairs (a car registered under Karpis' real name).

   

Pulling into the West Plains garage of the Davidson Motor Company at around 9:00 in the morning, Barker and Karpis request the repair of two leaky tires.  Unbeknownst to the outlaws, as the men await the fix, snoopy garage owner Carac Davidson has noticed that his newest customers are wearing clothing that looks like the description of the merchandise stolen from McCallon's on the 17th, and are driving a car that leaves tracks similar to the marks left behind McCallon's the night the robbery of the store occurred.  Junior Sherlock time, slipping quietly out of his place of business, Davidson finds Sheriff C. Roy Kelly just leaving the post office across the street and tries to convince the lawman that he should question the suspect men.  Grabbing his weapon from the back seat of his car, Kelly unfortunately decides the story McCallon is telling does warrant investigation and he crosses East Main Street and enters the garage.  Unaware he is about to encounter two budding public enemies, Kelly puts on a friendly smile and opens the Desoto's door to conduct his interview ... and is instantly welcomed by one of the men emptying his pistol at him, fatally so, at point-blank range.

                          
                                       Karpis

Kelly takes two rounds to the chest and is hit two more times in his left arm ... and is dead at the age of only forty-six, leaving behind a wife.


                                       
                                                          Barker

Vacating the scene of their latest crime, one gunman flees on foot, running out of the garage and vanishing down an alley next to the auto repair business (all that will be left behind from the killers' visit to West Plains will be a red scarf).  The other, still in the Desoto, roars onto the street, hitting a curb during his exit so hard that the back door pops open for a moment, then he too vanishes.  In the manhunt that takes place led by M. C. Stephens, the men are eventually tracked to a farm near Thayer, Missouri that has been rented by a Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Dunlop.  Arriving at the farm a posse finds the acreage abandoned and they also discover that while Arthur Dunlop is a real name of an elderly lovesick drunk, Mrs. Arthur Dunlop is an alias ... the latest alias of a woman born Arizona Donnie Clark, who upon getting married and birthing a murderous set of brothers, becomes known to history as the infamous "Ma" Barker.

                           
                                                     Dunlop and Ma

Gone, the killing of Kelly ends the group's use of the farm as a base for crimes in Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas ... Karpis, Freddy, and the Dunlops have pulled up stakes and headed north for the more healthy climes to be found under the protection of the underworld figures and corrupt police force of St. Paul, Minnesota.  No more burglaries of clothing stores and Mom-and-Pop shops are in their future for in St. Paul the outlaws will meet master criminals Harvey Bailey, Frank Nash, Francis Keating, and Tommy Holden and enter the big leagues of armed robbery and kidnapping ... and there, in 1932, they will also murder Ma's paramour, Mr. Dunlop, when they think his drunken babblings have reached the wrong ears and resulted in a police raid on one of their hangouts.  But that is a story for another time ...

  

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