Alvin Karpis: Pursuit of the Last Public Enemy
In the early evening of January 8, 1935, as Doc Barker and his girl friend left his apartment near Lake Michigan in Chicago, he was surprised and seized by FBI agents. Upon searching him and finding no weapons, agent Melvin Purvis asked him where his gun was. Doc replied, Home, and aint that a hell of a place for it?
That was it for Doc Barker. Guilty of the Bremer kidnapping, he was sent off to Alcatraz to serve a life sentence. In 1939, after an ill-advised escape attempt gone bad, Doc kept walking to the ocean and was gunned down by the guards...among his final words, Im all shot to hell.
Doc Barkers fingerprints on a discarded gasoline can had been found along the Bremer kidnap route and was part of the evidence implicating the gang.
When the FBI searched his apartment after his arrest on January 8th, they found a map of Florida, with the Ocala region circled. The FBI had an informant named Monty (Byron) Bolton who was a participant in the gangs Hamm kidnapping, and he offered information about Fred (and Ma) Barkers location in Florida.
It took the FBI one week to find the cottage Fred and Ma Barker were renting on Lake Weir. By one account Special Agent E.J.Connelley (who functioned as an Assistant Director whom the other agents often received their orders from) actually went up to the house, knocked on the door, and when it was answered by Ma Barker. He told her that the FBI was there to arrest Fred Barker. Ma went to tell Fred this while Connelley waited. Naturally, Fred Barker opened up with a machine gun and Connelley was lucky to escape unharmed.
After a shootout that lasted for hours Fred and Ma Barker were dead.
Alvin Karpis had visited the Barker cottage in December, after he spent some time vacationing in Havana, Cuba. Fred and Karpis had driven up to Cleveland to meet with Doc Barker who came down from Chicago and they planned a score for later in the winter. Then Karpis went down to Miami with his pregnant girl friend, Dolores Delaney and gang member Harry Campbell and his girl, Wynona Burdett. They wanted to go fishing in the Atlantic, and planned to revisit the Barkers at Lake Weir soon.
The inevitable moment came when the FBI finally caught up with them in Atlantic City shortly after Karpis heard of the violent deaths of Freddie and Ma Barker. Karpis planned to go into hiding the next day, but it was too late.
The next morning, Karpis recounts in his autobiography,when he opened the door to his room, his landlady screamed to the agents below:
Heres one of them! Here he is!
Come out of there, the agent called. Come out with your hands up.
Karpis played innocent and spoke loudly enough for Harry in the next apartment to understand what was happening. The agents wanted Karpis to get Harry out of his room which Karpis proceeded to do.
I opened Harrys door, jumped back, and flattened against the wall in the hallway. Harry let fly with his machine gun. I knew he would. He sprayed the hall but didnt hit any of the cops. One burst of bullets blasted chunks of wood off the wall, and a flying splinter caught one cop in the head. He screamed...probably thought he had been shot.
Harry ran into the hall, still firing. The cops rushed...down the stairs. They were too busy running to shoot back. Harry swung the machine gun after them. He was firing like a wild man. The bullets ripped into my room. Dolores screamed. I ran to her. One of the bullets had hit her in the thigh. She was bleeding. Eight months pregnant and now a bullet wound.
I tied the wound quickly with a strip of bed sheet...I put on my shoes, pants and an overcoat. And I packed my forty- five.
The four of us started down the stairs, Harry and me in the lead, me with the forty-five, Harry with the machine gun. We could see the detectives from the second floor landing...they didnt see us, and we slipped down to the first floor and made our way through a back hallway that led to an alley...I gunned the engine and wheeled out into the street...Harry jumped into the back. He leaned out the window as we turned away from the hotel and fired some shots at the cops.
I didnt know Atlantic Citys downtown streets...(one) turn took me to a dead end at the Boardwalk. The cops knew wed trapped ourselves. They waited for us to turn around.
Well run right through, I told Harry. Get the gun ready.
I wheeled the car in a 360-degree turn and raced it straight at the waiting cops. But partway down the street, I saw an alleyway I hadnt noticed before. We skidded and threw burning rubber all over, but we made the turn.
Karpis and Campbell completed their escape, ending at Toledo, Ohio in Edith Barrys House of Prostitution; Karpis moved in with Edith Barry and sat back to read the papers and await developments.
As far as the general public knew, after the January Atlantic City incident Karpis was next seen in August, 1935 watching horse races in Saratoga Springs; then he vanished for nine more months. His actual travels at this time included a long drive through the eastern U.S. during the summer of 1935.
The FBI wasnt letting up on their hunt and Karpis was still planning robberies. Hoover recalled this phase as, perhaps the most amazing sequence in the whole fantastic case.
He evidently was referring to an April, 1935 Warren Ohio mail truck robbery of $70,000 and a November, 1935 train holdup at Garrettsville, Ohio for $30,000(which included a private airplane flight to Hot Springs as part of the getaway.) Karpis and Campbell performed these two crimes with new accomplices, including a gambler and ex-convict named Fred Hunter. (Two innocent men were convicted of the first crime twice - after an original trial, and a re-trial.)
Both Ohio holdups were carried out in the face of ever-closer tracking pressures by the FBI. The November train robbery, especially, provided the Bureau with a fresh trail on Karpis.
The new Karpis associate Fred Hunter was thirty-six in 1935. His hometown was Warren, Ohio. He was convicted there in 1923 for car theft and then for attempted jailbreak. Although he worked sporadically as a welder, his mainoccupation and interest was gambling, until he met Alvin Karpis. This meeting, according to FBI files, probably occurred in January 1935 at Warren, Ohio soon after the Atlantic City shootout. Karpis and Campbell told Hunter they were referred to him by a friend who said Hunter could find them a place to stay...Hunter said he was going to Hot Springs, Arkansas and, would look the place over to see if the town was cool. (Harry Campbell had been to Hot Springs in 1932.) In June of 1935, Hunter and Karpis traveled from Warren to Hot Springs where they located a place to stay.
Hunter originally suggested the $70,000 robbery mentioned above.
Fred Hunter was afflicted with a noticeable speech stutter, which disappeared during the high tension of a robbery. In his later years, whenever he saw a police car, friends recalled, he would repeat excitedly, theres one of themoh boy-oh boy-oh boy-oh boy.
After he was recognized in Saratoga Springs in the summer of 1935, Karpis wrote, (we) pulled out for Hot Springs in a big hurry. Wed already made contacts earlier there...Grace Goldstein was my girl friend there and Freddie went around with one of Graces hookers, a girl named Connie Morris.(Both Hunter and Connie later independently stated that Karpis and Hunter first arrived in June, 1935.)
Karpis described Grace as, a peroxide blonde about thirty five, and she ran the finest whorehouse in Hot Springs...she maintained great connections. The mayor had a big crush on her. She entertained all the top crooks who visited and all the top cops and politicians. Grace was a genuine big leaguer...she rented houses and cottages for me...when the feds started breathing closer to me, they latched on to Grace. They put her through some rugged times and, for the most part, she stood up to them with a lot of courage.
The police force for the United States Post office - the postal inspectors- entered the Karpis manhunt because the November train robbery loot included bags of U.S. mail.
Depending on various sources, Karpiss known, plus suspected, crimes from 1931 to the end of 1935 totaled three kidnappings, three-to-fourteen murders, countless bank robberies, and the train and mail truck hold-ups. By 1936, he had two major federal agencies tracking him; several states wanted him for murders and robberies; multiple rewards were offered for his capture (which presumably inspired ordinary citizens and bounty hunters to join the search); and he was the last big name Public Enemy still free, so the forces chasing him could remain undiluted. He was red-hot at this time, quickly heating to white-hot.
A brief glimpse of a Public Enemys life on the run in 1935-1936: setting a handgun on a chair beside him at meals; a pistol always under a pillow when sleeping; a gun on him or next to him while driving; listening to a short-wave police radio installed in every car; wearing glasses as a disguise; pulling a hat far down his face almost to the nose; relying on associates to transact everyday business with the public whenever possible; evaluating every strangers stare; changing autos and transient hideouts every few weeks; keeping an eye out for the cops every second of the day and night.... And trying to maintain calm, rational thoughts and actions, because any panic or mistake could be fatal. It was a psychological atmosphere of extreme paranoia yet totally realistic.
The prolonged pursuit was not helping J.Edgar Hoover. The FBI, prior to Hoovers appointment as director in 1924, was only a fledgling agency. A Hoover Foundation article said it was perceived as an, ill-regarded Bureau beset by scandal and run by hacks, ex-convicts, and political appointees with little professional law enforcement experience.
Hoover cleaned up and professionalized the Bureau, but there was still criticism. He was derided for never personally making an arrest and called a swivel chair detective. And in early 1936 Senator Kenneth McKellar, chairman of an appropriations committee, lopped off $225,000 from the FBI budget (later restored) and accused Hoover of irresponsibly spending governmental money.
McKellar: Did you ever make an arrest?
Hoover: No, sir, I have made investigations.
McKellar: How many arrests have you made and who were they?
Hoover: I handled the investigations of Emma Goldman, and I prosecuted that case before the immigration authorities up to the Secretary of Labor. I also handled the Alexander Beckman case, and the case of Ludwig Martens, former Bolshevik ambassador to the U.S.
McKellar: Did you make those arrests?
Hoover: The arrests were made by the immigration officers under our supervision.
McKellar: I am talking about actual arrests.
Hoover: We did not have Power of Arrest.
McKellar: You never arrested them, actually?
Hoover: We had no Power of Arrest until a year ago.......
As Karpis recalled it, I enjoyed reading about Hoovers problems, but I had worse troubles of my own.
The FBI was aware that the postal inspectors were in the chase. Within the Bureaus documents concerning the Barker-Karpis gang, J. Edgar Hoover is extremely distrustful of other law enforcement agencies. Whatever reasoning elicited this attitude, it certainly was justified in this case, because of the numerous local corrupt officials Karpis and the Barkers had paid off to be forewarned of imminent arrest raids. However, Hoover realized that the postal inspectors might have information the FBI didnt, so he co-operated with them to some extent.
By December 1935, the FBI learned from the postal detectives which car had been used in the train robbery, and, the (postal) inspectors working on this case are satisfied in their own minds that subjects Karpis and Campbell were involved in the holdup.
The FBI distributed a full account of the car to its field offices, which then requested the state auto licensing offices in the region to check registration records for this car.
However, Karpis paid the pilot of the small plane used in the getaway, a man named Zetzer, to cut apart the car with torches and then sink it in Lake Erie. Zetzer was known as a crackerjack pilot, and he smuggled liquor in from Canada during Prohibition. The FBI memos during this stage often have the fugitives cars identified and Karpis is just as often trading in the car and buying a new one, or abandoning the vehicle. Sometimes doing so in a rural area, with the motor running, so when found without gas lawmen might conclude they were on foot in the vicinity.
The FBI was very busy in Ohio in late 1935-early 1936. The usual dead-end leads, short-lived leads, and false leads, many of which came from ordinary people who might have seen Karpis in the past, confronted them. But none of them knew anything about his current presence and hideouts in Hot Springs.
When the FBI showed Karpiss photo to people during the manhunt, his notoriety caused potential confusion. Witnesses may have seen newspaper or magazine photos at an earlier time and mistakenly thought that was the same person they were being asked to identify now. The agents often disqualified witness recognitions due to this phenomenon.
Dolores Delaney, captured in the January 1935 hotel shootout in Atlantic City, supplied the Bureau with several places and hangouts she knew about in Ohio where Karpis had been. But that applied to 1934; and he probably anticipated the FBI might collect this information from her. So, he either stayed clear of past locations or the FBI simply decided they couldnt stake out all the places he might appear. He had moved his base of operations to Hot Springs months before the train robbery in November, 1935.
During January and February 1936 the FBI established temporary phone taps on gamblers in Cleveland who knew Karpis, and the Bureau also set up a procedure to scan mail at a Cleveland post office for the known aliases of the crew participating in the train robbery.
Another stratagem the agents used was to try to identify people that received phone calls from Karpis, or his associates, from a hotel room where they had stayed.
Karpis knew quite a bit about what the FBI was up to during this phase, through the last months of 1935 and early 1936 I had to keep moving to keep some distance between me and the feds. The FBI was really collecting its forces to pin me down...in Cleveland and Toledo they were ransacking all my old haunts and they were keeping a constant watch on the apartment in Chicago where my parents and my baby son lived. They thought there was an outside chance Id risk a visit to the baby Id never seen. But I couldnt.
When he says constant watch, this would include, per the FBI files, ...the parents, being Lithuanian...are covered by a telephone tap on which an interpreter is being used, also by a mail cover, and surveillance of the apartment building.
In February 1936, the FBI prepared a fifty-six-page guide in alphabetical order listing names and addresses of approximately two hundred people that knew Karpis in the past, and/or peripheral persons the FBI thought might have future knowledge about him. Copies were distributed to the Bureaus field offices with instructions, renew investigations and where contacts appear to be active or information might be obtained as to the location of Alvin Karpis constant investigative activity should be maintained, and reports submitted at least twice monthly.
Another memo to the field offices contained a section on Karpiss habits, ...good conversationalist, never calls person by correct name; refers to person by some place or incident (note: this trait evidently was to avoid implicating others in crimes). Smokes one pack of Chesterfield cigarettes per day; drinks canned beer and expensive whiskey; gets drunk; never talks when drunk; does not use narcotics; reads all newspapers; reads Detective Story and True Story magazines; desires female company regularly and likes to maul them; gambles-dice and poker; usually stays at tourist camp when traveling.
Omitted from this memo, but known to the FBI, was the fact Karpis was an avid fisherman.
Not all the information the FBI assembled to track him was gathered through pure detection procedures. In fact, the most critical leads may have been from informants. There were three basic methods to develop an informant: threats, money, or promised reductions in prison sentences or severity of criminal charges.
During 1935-1936, the agents had derived major intelligence from the following informers:
· Volney Davis a friend of Doc Barker and former associate in the Barker-Karpis gang
· Monty (Byron) Bolton a Chicago mobster who had been part of the Barker-
· Karpis gang for the Hamm kidnapping and stayed for other crimes.
· George Burrhead Keady an Oklahoma middleman who functioned as an intermediary between the gang and corrupt state officials.
· John Brock accomplice in the November, 1935 train robbery.
And there would soon be an Informant Nonpareil emerging in 1936.
There may have been several other informers who still remain unknown. The FBI files at this period are rife with references to their informants. Developing an accurate informer could circumvent tedious and time-consuming investigative labor and allow the law officers to leap significantly closer to the fugitives.
Doc Barker and Karpis demonstrated the opposite of informing - never revealing anything of value.
When Doc Barker was arrested in 1935, a husky FBI agent supposedly broke two telephone books on his head and back. This failed to yield results.
Karpis was a prison escapee in 1930 when Kansas City police who found safecracking tools in his car arrested him. He then absorbed a physical beating that lasted an entire night and resulted in his front teeth being knocked out, and my face busted in.
But he hadnt talked either.
There may have been more than one path that led the FBI down to Hot Springs in early 1936. Agents knew that Harry Campbell had been to the city in 1932.
A March 10, 1936 memo written to Hoover from D.M. Ladd, the Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago office said,
In reviewing the file, it was noted that Harry Campbell is afflicted with gonorrheal rheumatism. In the past he has frequented mineral wells and health resorts in an effort to obtain relief....Previous reports indicate that Campbell has visited the baths at Hot Springs, Arkansas and Mineral Wells, Texas...It is suggested that efforts be made to properly cover such health resorts...in case Campbell appears for treatment. Even though Campbell apparently was not in Hot Springs at that time, the FBI may have acted on this memo and dispatched an agent(s) there.
The Karpis version of how the FBI came to Arkansas,
Another news story came along that reported sixty FBI agents converging in Little Rock, Arkansas. Hoover said that his men were merely holding a regional conference, but the underworld news told me differently. The feds were in Little Rock following up a lead they had that I was holed up somewhere in the area. They were almost right - I was living in Hot Springs at the time....
After the train job, Freddie and I moved back to Hot Springs. We didnt settle in any one house. It wasnt good for our nerves to spend time in the same few rooms.
Grace rented us a cottage on a mountainside on the outskirts of Hot Springs. It was isolated and suited me perfectly. But a couple of weeks after we set up in the place, Freddie brought Burrhead Keady around. I didnt like it. I didnt want anybody to know where I was staying. I especially didnt want Burrhead to know anything about me. Burrhead was a nice guy, but he was a lush, and guys who drank usually talked.
We moved again.
NOTE: George Burrhead Keady was clearly revealed as an informant in FBI files in February 1936 - and probably earlier. The FBI memo in February said about him, this man is an informant of the Oklahoma City Bureau office. In the past he has supplied data as to the activities of Campbell and, in view of that, he is valuable.
Karpis said he was more worried about the postal inspectors than the FBI because the postal authorities were better investigators:
They had scored a big victory up in Tulsa. There had been a bad shootout there that had riled up the Tulsa police, and they conducted a series of raids on all the joints around the city.... they busted into a safe that Burrhead Keady owned, and some of the money in the safe came from the train job. One of the guys on the job, Brock, had turned the money over to Burrhead to change into clean bills.
The postal people got in on the act, and it didnt take them long to trace the money back to Ohio. They grilled Burrhead, and he told them about Brock and the train robbery. They got their hands on Brock, and he really sang. He confessed to them about Edith Barrys whorehouse in Toledo, about how it was a traditional hideout, and all the details of the train heist, including the part about my plane trip from Ohio to Hot Springs. That information brought the postal cops and the FBI into Arkansas in greater numbers than ever before.
Fred Hunter later confirmed that he and Karpis worried about the postal inspectors for much of the time they were hiding out in the Hot Springs area. Periodically, the two fugitives would drive to downtown Hot Springs at night - and circle the Post Office attempting to learn if there were any postal inspectors in town. Presumably this was based on viewing the automobiles parked there.
Regardless of who, or what, led the FBI to Hot Springs, by March, 1936 they had established that Grace Goldstein and Connie Morris were associating with Karpis and Hunter.
The only imperfection with this news, from the FBIs standpoint, was that the quartet always seemed in perpetual motion, conforming to a cardinal precept in the Fugitives Handbook.
A bewildering itinerary was recounted in a statement later given to the FBI by Connie Morris:
About November 15, 1935 Hunter and I went to visit my sister in San Antonio. We went to Corpus Christi, Texas after two weeks there, we went to Galveston, then drove to New Orleans then through Mississippi back to Hot Springs.
After about two weeks Hunter drove me to Frederick, Oklahoma...(we) were back in Hot Springs for Christmas. After about two weeks, I accompanied Karpis and Hunter to Corpus Christi...after a few days (leaving Karpis in Corpus Christi).... we went to Florida by way of Houston, and New Orleans.
We spent nights at Tallahassee, Ocala, and probably two or three weeks at Orlando.
They also stopped at Tampa, Naples, Homestead, Key Largo, Melbourne, Daytona Beach, drove through Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, arriving New Orleans about March 5, 1936.
Hunter had received a letter from Karpis at one of the Florida spots; this may have been pre-arranged, or perhaps they kept in touch via telephone.
Karpiss continuous motion and maneuvering strategies, plus an early warning setup with underworld tipsters, and a generous amount of luck, had preserved his freedom during a five year crime spree, but now the Manhunters were closing in. There were too many cops, too many informants, and too hot a trail for him to avoid seizure much longer. Actually, he didnt expect an arrest; he thought the FBI would kill him. All the highly publicized Public Enemies except George (Machine Gun) Kelly had died from lawmens bullets.
Considering the FBIs deadly gun battles with the crazed killers among the Public Enemies, Baby Face Nelson and Fred Barker, the use of machine guns by both cops and robbers, and Karpiss well-known remark (to Fred Barker and Fred Hunter) that he would never be taken alive, he was justified in his expectation. The fugitive felt the palpable intensity of heat and tension surrounding him like never before. He recognized the grim outlook of that time and later recalled :
Things didnt look good, and sometimes I thought I should buy a place hundreds of miles away, in some isolated place where I had no past connections. Maybe in Oregon somewhere, or in Washington State. The feds would never consider looking for me in places like that....
Sometime during the stay in Rockport (commencing circa March 27) Karpis stashed his red Buick in a garage in Corpus Christi. The motivation for concealing the car came from Fred Hunter. An FBI memo later dryly explained, Grace Goldstein went with Freddie Hunter to the Corpus Christi police station where Hunter endeavored to secure something in connection with the registration of a new Ford car which Hunter had just purchased at Corpus Christi.
During the time they were in the police station...Grace and Hunter heard a radio broadcast for the pickup of the maroon Buick driven by Karpis and inasmuch as this car was at that time parked directly in front of the police station, it was determined by Hunter and Karpis that it would be best to dispense with this automobile.
Every FBI field office in the nation received a memo dated April 1 alerting them, ...Investigation by the Bureau has disclosed that as late as March 26th, a maroon-colored 1936 model, four-door Buick Sedan.... was in the possession of subject Alvin Karpis.
The FBI assigned six agents to drive through all the streets in Hot Springs searching for red Buicks.
Within one or two days after Karpis and Hunter fled Hot Springs, an informant told the FBI, specifically, omnipresent Special Agent E.J. Connelley, the location of the fugitives hideout was seven miles southeast of Hot Springs on Malvern Road. This information was given to us the night of March 28th. We arrived at Hot Springs Sunday night March 29th, and raided the place at six oclock a.m., March 30th.
The informant had given the agents a highly detailed outline of the terrain surrounding the house, and drew a sketch of it, and the raid was co-ordinated carefully. Among the raiding party were Connelley, Clarence Hurt, W.L Buchanan and several more agents from the FBI, postal inspectors, and a Kansas State policeman; approximately twenty lawmen in total. J. Edgar Hoover was consulted via telephonic conference and he advised an early a.m. time for the assault.
The agents hit the house with heavy firepower. They shot out the windows, the door, and a fire started inside. Then it was discovered the house was unoccupied.
It was another frustrating near miss; an embarrassing blunder for Hoover and the FBI. They were thwarted once again. None of the previous Public Enemies had been so evasive for so long. The headline in the regional paper, the Hot Spring Sentinel, blared:
KARPIS MAKES GETAWAY BEFORE SPECTACULAR RAID
The agents did retrieve something of potential value inside the house. They found a map bearing the stamp Arrow Tourist Apartments, New Orleans. There were plenty of other items found that suggested alternative sites the fugitives could have fled to. Actually, the failed raid simply left the FBI with no solid, direct leads. They had to start anew.
After the raid, searching for Karpis and Hunter, they did an enormous amount of canvassing at local tourist camps in the area, interviewing people in Hot Springs, and listing the damages they inflicted upon the house. It must have been galling. The agents conducted an extensive investigation at the Hot Springs airport interviewing the airport authorities and others about the private plane flights of Karpis and Hunter. The Bureau had also grilled Zetzer, the pilot from Cleveland who had flown the fugitives from Ohio to Hot Springs after the train robbery.
Karpis, now in Texas, had arranged to meet Grace Goldstein in two weeks on a side road outside Hot Springs.
When they read about the raid, Karpis and Hunter decided to leave Rockport, Texas. Next stop, New Orleans. Karpis, Hunter, and Connie drove there in Hunters car. They rented two apartments: Connie and Hunter were staying at 3343 Canal with Karpiss apartment a mile or so away at 3300 St. Charles.
Karpis drew from his cache of elusive tactics and told Hunter to write to several mail order houses, so he would be receiving mail every few days at the new apartment.
Meanwhile, the agents convinced Grace Goldstein to become their top informant. This effort did not succeed instantly. E.J. Connelley talked with her on March 31st (the day after the raid) but he doubted her reliability initially. Hindsight reveals that she was honest about some matters concerning Fred Hunter and Connie Morris, but she denied even recognizing Alvin Karpis. Connelley knew this was untrue and he threatened her with a harboring charge and prison sentence if she did not fully co-operate in relaying all knowledge of Karpis...and he offered her $1,000 if she contributed directly to an arrest.
The morning after the interview conducted at the Hatterie hotel, the FBI called upon the director of Bell Telephone at Hot Springs asking for the long distance calls made from the hotel subsequent to Graces questioning. There were two calls placed, one to Memphis, and one to New Orleans.
When Grace Goldstein met Karpis on the side road, it definitely was after her original interrogation, and could have been after follow-up visits from the lawmen. Karpis referred to this in his autobiography:
She looked as if shed been through hell. She was pale and exhausted. Early one morning seven agents piled into her room, some from the FBI, some from the postal department. They wanted to know where I was and they threatened her with jail, beatings, and all kinds of trouble. She claimed she didnt know me and eventually the cops went away.
The FBI was unable to extract any new information from her because she left Hot Springs. Her departure was April 10th or 11th when she met Karpis as they had planned on the side road, and she would not return until late April. There would be time to think, or worry, about the predicament she was in.
During their rendezvous, Karpis told Grace to go to her brothers place in Paris, Texas, pick up some machine guns he had left there and return to the apartments in New Orleans.
However, upon arrival in New Orleans, she reported that when her brother read about the Hot Springs house being shot up by the FBI, he took the guns and buried them out in his fields. The FBI called on him and was still watching his place. The machine guns were inaccessible.
While she was in New Orleans, Grace Goldstein visited Hunter and Connie at their Canal street apartment.
Karpis and Grace decided to take a holiday, and drove off in his new Terraplane coupe. They fished, and saw tourist attractions in Florida: Sarasota, Tampa, and Pensacola. Also, they passed through Biloxi and Gulfport in Mississippi. Still the thief, Karpis noticed a dam being built that must have had a good-sized payroll. I took a look at another possibility, a train score in Iuka, Mississippi. All this despite the super-intense police pressure.
Karpis, possibly with Hunter and Connie accompanying, drove Grace back to Hot Springs and then returned to New Orleans. Fred Hunter and Karpis listened to a radio broadcast on Monday, April 27th at the Canal street apartment, which reported that they, along with Harry Campbell, were sought for the Ohio train robbery back in November.
Karpis told Hunter that he was going fishing in Mississippi and did not reappear at the apartment until Friday, May 1st.
Grace Goldstein had been absent from Hot Springs April 10th to April 25th. There is considerable subterfuge in the FBI documents regarding information she provided. This was to protect her and maintain secrecy in references to her as an informer. Yet, it is possible that another Karpis insider-turned-informant now held by the FBI in Ohio was the link between the FBI and Graces knowledge of the fugitives whereabouts. If this was the actual situation, then she was not confessing directly to the agents, but rather to a Karpis colleague that was trusted and unsuspected as an informer.
However, the intermediate informer could have been an elaborate ruse created by the Bureau to befuddle anyone reviewing the FBI documents then - or in the future.
Further complicating the issue, former agents scuttlebutt claims that Grace Goldstein had developed an especially close relationship with an FBI agent in an investigation of white-slavery cases.
An FBI memo said,
Informant ____, Saturday night, April 25, contacted Grace Goldstein upon her return to Hot Springs, and in talking with her, learned that she had been in New Orleans; that she had been in contact with Alvin Karpis and Fred Hunter, and she indicated that Connie Morris was receiving treatment from a doctor located in the building on the same floor upon which there was located the office of the doctor who had previously treated Grace Goldstein when she was in New Orleans; that Grace Goldsteins physician was one of three doctors by the same name, operating from this same office....
Surprisingly, the agents took the remainder of the weekend off. On Monday morning, April 27, agent J.L. Medala reported the results of the contact of ______ with Grace Goldstein and proceeded to New Orleans, where Special Agent in Charge David Magee was to locate the doctors.
They were located in Room 1111, Maison-Blanche bldg...Dr. J. E. Isaacson, physician, and his two dentist brothers, this being the only doctor, with two others associated with him, by the same name that could be located in New Orleans. Thereafter, through the courtesy of the building officials, Agents established surveillance of all persons coming from the elevators on the 11th floor, for the possible appearance of Connie Morris to see her doctor.
Then, on April 30th, came The Breakthrough.
Agent E.J. Connelley wrote, ...our confidential informant ____ was contacted on the early morning of April 30th, and at this time this confidential informant furnished me with information as to the alleged location of Fred Hunter, Connie Morris, and Alvin Karpis in New Orleans.... this informant indicated to me that these people, that is, Fred Hunter and Connie Morris, were located on the right hand corner, going out of town, of Canal Street and Jeff Davis Parkway; that Karpis was not living at this place, but was coming there for his meals...it was also indicated that Karpis had purchased a Plymouth automobile under the name of OHara; that it was believed that they had rented this apartment, possibly under the same name; that there was a very definite possibility that Karpis would not be at this address at all times, but might be away fishing at this particular time, but that, eventually, if the other two were located at the apartment, he would return there and be in contact with Hunter and Connie.
The pace suddenly quickened at this point.
A telegram from the Dallas FBI office to New Orleans advised that the Western Posse was on the move: Clarence Hurt was to arrive in New Orleans by bus that night (April 30th) at 11:20 pm. William Buchanan and Dwight Brantley (agent in charge of the Oklahoma City office) were en route by automobile from Texas.
E.J. Connelley noted, at New Orleans on April 30, immediate arrangements were made to put this place under surveillance, and Special Agent In Charge D.W. Magee arranged with the owner of the property, directly across Jeff Davis Parkway from this address, to occupy the vacant dwelling for purposes of observation, and agents L.I. Bowman and R.L. Tollett were established in this vacant house on April 30, agents C.W. Toulme and E.M. Heavrin relieving them on the night of April 30, and agents Bowman and Tollett returning on the following morning, May 1st. .
The agents were also working assiduously to verify the apartment rental and car data offered by the informant. An agent learned from the Light and Gas Service that an application had been made for service by Edward OHara in apartment #3 at 3343 Canal. The same agent determined that Edward OHara of Corpus Christi, Texas had purchased a new Plymouth deluxe coupe - for $806 - from a New Orleans Car Dealer.
Edward OHara was the alias Fred Hunter was using.
Connelley further stated, On the night of April 30, the Director, Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, together with Assistant Director Clyde Tolson, and Special Agent W.R. Glavin, arrived at New Orleans, and in conformity with my previous conversations with the Bureau as to the activities and developments in this case, on the night of April 30, conference was had with Mr. Hoover as to the general situation, it being noted that as yet, we had not definitely identified anyone, other than Connie Morris as being at the apartment, and it was decided to defer action until the following day, with a continued surveillance of this place, in an effort to identify Karpis and Hunter as being on the premises before any definite action was taken.
Connelley referred to a May 1st memo written by the night shift agents watching the apartment from across the street which said, On the morning of May 1, 1936 at 9:45 a.m. a man was observed to drive up to the front of the apartment on Canal Street in a Terraplane 1936 coupe and parked near the corner. This individual locked the door of the car, walked around the corner to the iron grill entrance of the apartment being watched, and appeared to let himself through the gate.
The man who entered the apartment may be described as follows:
Age in the 30s
Clothes stiff straw hat, tan trousers, cream-colored shirt, coatless.
Fifteen minutes later the day shift agents returned to the observation building. L.I. Bowman wrote in his report, at 10:51 a.m. ..Observed a man leave the apartment and proceed to the Terraplane, which he unlocked and removed a magazine therefrom, then relocked the door and returned to the apartment. This party was tentatively identified as Subject Karpis, in view of the fact that he wore rimless glasses, appeared to be about 510, slender build, rather stoop-shouldered...about 12:00 noon, agents observed Subject Karpis leave the apartment and enter his Terraplane, while Hunter, who was observed.... to be wearing a mustache proceeded to the garage located at the back of the apartment and removed a black Plymouth. Hunter, in the Plymouth, followed Karpis in the Terraplane. They proceeded down Jeff Davis Parkway toward the river for a block, making a U turn, returned down Jeff Davis Parkway toward Canal Street, and crossed Canal Street, passing directly in front of the writer and Agent Tollett, who were observing from the basement window at 3401 Canal Street. At this time it was definitely decided that the two parties in question were Alvin Karpis and Fred Hunter....about forty-five minutes later, Hunter and Karpis returned to the apartment in the Plymouth coupe, Karpis driving, and parked same on Jeff Davis Parkway at the side of the apartment.
About 2:00 p.m. Special Agents in Charge E.J. Connelley and Dwight Brantley appeared at 3401 Canal, where they surveyed the situation and instructed us to remain at our point of observation.
The same information was set down by Tollet and Magee: Agent Tollett had phoned the New Orleans office and told Agent-In-Charge David Magee at 1:02 pm the two badmen had returned in the Plymouth.... the observing agents repeated their belief that these two individuals are Karpis and Hunter. Magee then phoned Connelley at Dwight Brantleys room in the DeSoto Hotel (where many of the out-of-town agents were staying), and these two agents left for Canal Street to make a personal survey.
Tollett also reported that he pointed out Hunter and Connie Morris as they made exits and entrances to the apartment while Connelley was at the stakeout.
Connelley agreed with the agents positive identification of Fred Hunter, and that was enough; Hoover and his agents gathered at Magees office to formulate plans for raiding this house while the subjects were available in same.
The Public Enemy Crime Wave Era was about to expire; the futures of Karpis, Hoover, and the FBI would all change radically in a span of mere seconds.