Monday, January 21, 2013


1/20/1935 -  Using information discovered at the Lake Weir hideout of Ma and Freddy Barker, FBI agents descend on Miami, seeking the country's newest Public Enemy #1, Alvin Karpis.  In addition to keeping an eye on airline, bus, and railroad terminals, knowing the outlaw is traveling with his eight-months pregnant girlfriend, the authorities also check every hospital and maternity ward in the city. 

                                                                 Public Enemy #1


Returning to the rented home he is sharing with Delores Delaney at around 5:00 in the evening after a full day of deep sea fishing for mackerel with his bank robbing partner Harry Campbell, Karpis is told of the killings of Ma and Freddy and makes immediate plans to flee Miami ... given the name of the Dan-mor Hotel in Atlantic City by underworld cronies as a safe haven, Campbell and Karpis will drive through the night to Atlantic City, while Delaney and Campbell's girlfriend, Wynona Burdette, take a train north (they beat officers showing up at the train station by minutes and check-in at the hotel ahead of their boyfriends).


Driving through the night in the black two-door Buick sedan Karpis has recently acquired from the Ungar Buick Company, the outlaws arrive in Atlantic City shortly after midnight on 1/19 and check into the Dan-mor on the city's Kentucky Avenue, a short three blocks from the boardwalk and the ocean ... the girls are in Room 400, the men just across from Delaney and Burdette in Room 403.  It appears they have escaped the heat that has arisen from the deaths of Ma and Freddy, but the red-hot intensity of the manhunt for Karpis has followed the group north.


While the group spends the day buying winter clothing and sees the sites (and Delaney's medical condition is checked by a local doctor), in Miami, the FBI has discovered the house on 85th Street in which Karpis and Delaney have been living as Mr. and Mrs. Green. Among the papers left behind in the pair's haste to get out of town is a description of the Buick Karpis has driven to Atlantic City, and the car's license plate number ... a number that is quickly sent to police department's up and down the eastern seaboard.  At 3:25 in the morning, Officer Elias Saab, out walking his normal beat, checks in from a street phone box and is told about the alert for the car.  Expecting nothing, he continues his patrol by entering the Coast Garage on Kentucky and is shocked when he finds the very vehicle he has just been told to be on the lookout for.  Finding out the owner of the car is staying at the Dan-mor, near dawn a group of cops sweeps into the hotel and begins questioning its manager, William Morley.  Luckily for Karpis, Morley's wife thinks the police are there to question him about his pregnant unmarried lady friend and she wakes the outlaw, dressed in only his long underwear, and takes him into an unused room next door to discuss the morality of the issue.  Exiting the room, Karpis finds himself confronted by three police officers ... who fail to recognize the bandit for the menace he poses.   


As the cops try to use a passkey and enter his room, speaking loudly so Campbell will wake and be ready, Karpis claims to be a salesman and states he and his friend were partying the night before, apologizes for any noise they may have made, and offers to get his hungover friend out of bed.  When seconds later the door suddenly opens, Karpis jumps inside the room, slamming the door behind him.  It is closed for only a few heartbeats.  Pounding on the door while Mrs. Morley uses her passkey on its lock, Campbell suddenly yanks the door open and starts firing with a machine gun at anything that has the misfortune to be in the hallway, or adjacent rooms ... his first bullet knocks the ring of keys out of Morley's hand, others cause the cops to scramble away to cover and safety, and one slug pierces the wall of Room 400 and strikes Delores Delaney in her right leg.  Moving quickly while Campbell holds the police at bay, Karpis throws on a pair of pants, shoes, and an overcoat, arms himself with an automatic, and grabs the other two women out of their room.  The group then uses the hotel's back stairs to reach the street.  While the women wait, Karpis and Campbell run across the street and unable to find their Buick (already in police custody), steal a green Pontiac someone has foolishly left the keys in.  Spotted, they again trade lead with members of the local police department but manage to get away ... but not with the women who because of the cold have gone back inside the hotel where they are both soon arrested.  Alvin Karpis will never see the soon-to-be mother of his child again.


Fleeing the city, with Karpis driving and Campbell watching for trouble with the machine gun, the car bumps along a set of railroad tracks out into the countryside where the pair wait until night, and then in a pouring rain the bandits make their way to Camden, New Jersey where they fill up with gas.  Believing the attendant has recognized them as wanted outlaws, their next order of business becomes finding a new ride ... which the duo does outside of Quakerstown by flagging down and kidnapping thirty-one-year-old Philadelphia psychiatrist Horace Hunsicker and stealing his Plymouth sedan.  Driving west all the rest of the night and the next day on back roads, the threesome eventually reach a small town outside of Akron, Ohio, where Hunsicker is released.

                                                              Escape vehicle

Then using the underworld contacts the pair have in Toledo, Ohio, the bandits vanish.  The girls each receive five year sentences for harboring in the aftermath of their arrest in Atlantic City, and while awaiting prison, Delaney gives birth to a baby boy she names Raymond in a Philadelphia hospital.  As for the father, he roam the country from Michigan down to the Gulf Coast, rob a mail truck, a train, and become one of the first criminals to stage a getaway using an airplane, before being captured in New Orleans in 1936 (Campbell is arrested a week later in Toledo).  Sent to Alcatraz for his many crimes, the former public enemy will have the dubious honor of spending more time on The Rock, twenty-six years, than any other prisoner.

                                                              Karpis - 1936

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