Friday, March 18, 2016


3/18/1949 - The bad mojo that seems to have been present from birth for the boys of the Barker Family of Tulsa, Oklahoma, finally comes to an end in Westminster, Colorado, when 51-year-old Lloyd William "Red" Barker is gunned down by his 37-year-old wife, Jennie.

Born Arizona Donnie Clark in Ash Grove, Missouri in 1873, the future Ma Barker grows up believing nothing is more important than family, that Northerners hounded Jesse and Frank James into a life of crime, and that her sons can do no wrong.  In 1892, she marries George Barker (14 years her elder) and the couple soon start raising a family in Tulsa, Oklahoma that will be composed of four boys ... four boys who will become some of the most savage criminals in American history ... Herman is born in 1893, Lloyd in 1897, Arthur "Dock" in 1899, and the baby of the bunch, Fred in 1901. Their father, a man described as "shiftless" in FBI reports, that does not participate at all in disciplining his sons, and their mother a loving maniac who throws hissy fits of tears and screaming at the jailhouse every time the boys gets into trouble, the quartet of budding hoodlums are soon integral members of Tulsa's Central Park Gang.
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Graduating from petty crimes to armed robbery, in 1921, Lloyd, along with William Green and Gregory O'Connell, hit a mail truck in the town of Baxter Springs, Kansas for $7,500 in Liberty Bonds ... a score they don't get a chance to spend as the men are all soon arrested for the robbery.  A federal crime, found guilty of the robbery, Lloyd is sentenced to 25 years behind bars at Leavenworth ... a sentence he begins serving in January of 1922.

Serving his time and not causing trouble, Lloyd, inmate #17243, works first in the prison's shoe factory, and eventually becomes an orderly and cook in the tubercular ward of the institution's hospital. In 1932 he becomes eligible for parole ... and authorities okay his release, but it is rescinded before it becomes official out of a wise fear that Lloyd might join his brothers, Dock and Fred, in their ongoing rampage through the Midwest.  He is finally granted his release on October 29, 1938.

By the time of his release, most of the criminal antics of the Barker Family are over ... wounded in a gunfight with police, Herman commits suicide to avoid arrest on murder charges (he is responsible for the deaths of Deputy Sheriff Arthur E. Osborn and Patrolman Joseph E. Marshall) in 1927 in Wichita, Kansas, Dock is captured by Federal agents in 1935 (his resume includes the murders of night watchman Thomas J. Sherrill and police officer Leo Pavlak), is sent to Alcatraz for life for the kidnapping of Edward Bremer, and dies trying to escape The Rock in 1939, with a bullet in his brain, and Ma and Fred (along with robbery and kidnapping, the youngest of the brood will kill Police Chief Manley Jackson, Sheriff C. Roy Kelly, Ma boyfriend Arthur Dunlop after the man is thought to have snitched to police, Attorney J. Earl Smith for not keeping Harvey Bailey out of jail, underworld figure Joseph Moran for arranging a displeasing plastic surgery that he then brags about, and Oscar Erickson, a Christmas tree salesman who is gunned down in the mistaken belief that he is memorizing the license plate of an escape vehicle after a 1932 bank robbery) are both killed in a four hour gun battle with Federal agents in Florida in 1935 (father George dies of natural causes at his home in Webb City, Missouri in 1941).
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Fred & Ma In Death

Out of prison, Lloyd leads a respectable life ... during WWII, he serves as a cook at the P.O.W. camp at Ft. Custer, Michigan (his second stint in the service, Lloyd is also an Army cook during WWI), and is honorably discharged with a good conduct medal. After the war, he becomes the assistant manger at Charlie Klein's Denargo Grill in Denver. He also finds time to be patriarch of his own family, marrying his common-law wife Jean, and taking the lead role in the upbringing of four children, Ronald, 14, and Virginia, 11, children from his wife's previous marriage, and kids he has with Jean, Eileen, 2, and Michael, nine months.  The good life finally, but there is one major problem ... Lloyd's 37-year-old, cute, 5'2,'' blue eyed little wife of 92 pounds is bonkers!
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Ft. Custer - 1941

Returning home at 7:00 in the morning to arrange child care for his family after opening the grill (his wife had told him she wasn't feeling well and was going to bed), Lloyd is in the process of unlocking his back door and entering his home, when he is hit in the left side of the neck by a 20-gauge shotgun blast fired by his wife.  Dead instantly, Jean is taken into custody where it rapidly becomes evident that she is not playing with a full deck of cards ... she will both claim to have fired at a noise with her eyes closed, and to have killed Lloyd out of fear of her husband and that he might attack the children, and on the way to the Colorado Psychopathic Hospital of Denver for a mental examination, she jumps out of a moving sheriff's car trying to escape.  Confessing to the murder, on the recommendation of two examining doctors, Lloyd Barker's wife is sent away to the Colorado State Insane Asylum at Pueblo for life in April of 1949.
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Pueblo Insane Asylum  

Said to be the only Barker boy to ever do an honest day's work, nonetheless succumbs to the bullet destiny that seemed to stalk each member of the family from his birth.  The last to leave, Klein closes the grill where Lloyd worked so that his peers at the restaurant can attend Barker's funeral ... and 50 do, driving out to Brighton, Colorado, where the one-time outlaw is buried at the city's Elmwood Cemetery in an unmarked grave.  Veteran Tulsa police officer Harry Stege will sum up Lloyd's leaving thusly ... the Barkers were "That's the finish of the Barker Gang ... slippery young hoodlums ... Never again will a police department have to face their bullets."  Indeed!

Ma During Happier Days    

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