Haunted “Ma” Barker Hideout
You can find this home at 13254 E Ocklawaha Highway, Ocklawaha, FL, 32179. Does it look familiar? It should, it’s the location in which a four hour shootout took place between the Ma Barker gang and the FBI back in 1935. Born Arizona Donnie Clark in 1873, she would later marry George Barker and have four hell-raising sons. For whatever reasons that she had, she later started going by the name Kate Barker, eventually to be famously known as Kate “Ma” Barker.
J. Edger Hoover’s FBI labeled her as the ring leader and mastermind of the murderous gang of outlaws but after her death the surviving members of the gang insisted that she was just a sweet and loving mother that just wanted to stay near and dear to her sons, often taking in other criminals and caring for them as well.
In an attempt to cut a deal, a tip was given to the FBI by a former member of their gang (Monty Bolton) whom had been caught and was serving time for kidnapping. He didn’t give the exact address but had mentioned that they were in Florida, near Lake Weir and jokingly stated that “Freddy Barker was probably trying to kill Gator Joe”, a legendary alligator that was supposedly seen in the area from time-to-time. Based on that information, the agents narrowed it down to the city is Ocklawaha and monitored mail and visitors to the town, eventually being lead to the right house.
On the morning of January 16th, 1935 the house was surrounded and Agent Earl Connelly of Cincinnatti yelled, “Unless you come on out, we’re going to start shooting!”
Ma replied, “Go ahead.” Moments later Fred Barker opened fire starting one of the longest shootouts in FBI history.
In the end Kate “Ma” Barker was found dead on the 2nd floor, laying there with bullet holes in her chest just a few feet away from her fallen son Fred, whom had 14 bullets in him. Fred’s gun was still clenched tightly in his hands, splintered from a bullet that had hit it, and between the two of them on the floor laid a Tommy gun. Some believe that once Fred was shot and gone, Ma turned a gun on herself. Some say they have seen apparitions of Ma Barker standing by the 2nd floor window in which her and her son’s final stand took place.
(Publicity photo of “Ma” Barker and her son, Fred, after being shot to death in a brutal four hour long gun fight.) All three of her other sons met a grueling doom as well. Herman (the oldest son) had killed himself in 1927 to avoid being caught after a robbery, Arthur “Doc” Barker was killed trying to escape Alcatraz in 1939, and the fourth son Lloyd Barker, whom was trying to start a straight life after doing time, was shot to death by his wife in 1949 during a domestic dispute.
In the end, all of their murders, bank robberies, and kidnappings for high ransoms may have cost the Barker Gang their lives, but whomever said crime doesn’t pay obviously never owned a haunted house where a famous criminal shootout had taken place at, because this fine Floridian home is on the market for $1 million. I did however read that the owners are considering renting it out for only $1800 a month if they don’t sell it.
I checked several sources for this story, and there are different versions with different ideas as to what Ma Barkers true role in the gang really was. Whether she was the ring leader or just a loving mother along for the ride, she’s famous, she’s dead, and she’s believed to still be lingering in the home waiting on her boys to come back to join her.
After doing a little research, I found this clip on YouTube of one of the owners talking about his family’s property and the role it played in the Barker story, including information about a seance that revealed other famous and notorious murderers, visiting the home.
Until next time…
~ William C. Raustler