|Born||January 29, 1902|
Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma
|Died|| July 20, 1979 77) (aged|
Sonoma County, California
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
|Criminal status||Paroled from Alcatraz in the 1950s|
|Spouse(s)||Daisy I. Graham|
Volney Everett "Curley" Davis (January 29, 1902 – July 20, 1979) was an American bank robber and Depression-era outlaw. A longtime Oklahoma bandit, he was the boyfriend of Edna Murray and an associate of both the John Dillinger and Alvin Karpis-Barker gangs during the 1930s.
Edna "Rabbit" Murray (1898–1966) was a criminal associated with several high-profile gangs in the Depression-era of the early 1930s. Although popularly known to the press as the "Kissing Bandit" for kissing a male robbery victim, she was known in the underworld as "Rabbit" for her skills in breaking out of the penitentiary.
John Herbert Dillinger was an American gangster in the Great Depression-era United States. He operated with a group of men known as the "Dillinger Gang" or "The Terror Gang" which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations, among other crimes. Dillinger escaped from jail twice. He was also charged with the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer who shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest during a shootout, prompting him to return fire; he was not convicted of this crime, however. It was Dillinger's only homicide charge, despite his infamy.
Alvin Francis Karpis, a Depression-era gangster nicknamed "Creepy" for his sinister smile and called "Ray" by his gang members, was a Canadian-born criminal of Lithuanian descent known for being a leader of the Barker–Karpis gang in the 1930s. Karpis led the gang along with Fred Barker and Arthur "Doc" Barker. There were only four "public enemies" ever given the title of "Public Enemy #1" by the FBI and he was the only one to be taken alive. The other three, John Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Baby Face Nelson, were all killed before being captured. He also spent the longest time as a federal prisoner at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, serving twenty-six years.
Born in Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma, Volney Davis's criminal career began in 1919 when he was sentenced to three years imprisonment for grand larceny at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.Davis was an early member of the Oklahoma-based "Central Park Gang" during the 1920s, where he first met the Barker Gang, and committed his first major robbery with Arthur "Doc" Barker when they burglarized St. John's Hospital in Tulsa. The night watchman, Thomas J. Sherrill, was killed during the robbery. Barker was arrested about 5 months later for the murder; however, Davis evaded authorities for nearly a year before he was captured. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the robbery. In February 1923 (or January 1925), he briefly escaped from the state penitentiary in McAlester, participating in a mass escape with several other convicts by using ropes and a ladder to climb over the wall, but was recaptured almost two weeks later.
McAlester is a city in and the county seat of Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 18,363 at the 2010 census, a 3.4 percent increase from 17,783 at the 2000 census, making it the largest city in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, followed by Durant. The town gets its name from James Jackson McAlester, an early white settler and businessman who later became lieutenant governor of Oklahoma. Known as "J. J.", McAlester married Rebecca Burney, the daughter of a full-blood Chickasaw family, which made him a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.
Seven years later, Davis applied for a 20-month "leave of absence" from the prison which was granted on November 3, 1932.Such leniency was common in Oklahoma during that time, even with such a criminal record as his, although Alvin Karpis later claimed that the state's decision was influenced by a $1,500 bribe. He was scheduled to return to the prison on July 1, 1934, but Davis went on the run instead. A month after his release, he reunited with girlfriend Edna Murray, who herself had escaped from prison for a third time. The couple joined the Alvin Karpis-Barker Gang who were then at the peak of their success and in the midst of a major crime spree. Davis and Murray were later implicated in the kidnapping of St. Paul banker Edward Bremer who was successfully ransomed for $200,000.
The kidnapping of Edward Bremer was the last major criminal enterprise of the Barker-Karpis gang. Though successful in netting the gang a large ransom, it brought down the full force of the FBI on the gang, resulting in the death or capture of its main members in the months afterwards. The kidnapping was organized by racketeer Harry Sawyer, and the principal kidnappers were Fred Barker, Alvin Karpis, Arthur Barker, Volney Davis and George Ziegler.
Davis received an unscheduled visit from John Dillinger and Homer Van Meter at his home in Aurora, Illinois. They had brought John "Red" Hamilton, who had been mortally wounded days earlier in a running gunfight in Minnesota hours after their escape from Little Bohemia Lodge. Davis agreed to hide Hamilton in his home and, with Murray, looked after him until he died of his wounds a few days later.Dillinger, Dock Barker, Van Meter, and Davis later buried Hamilton in an unmarked grave.
Homer Virgil Van Meter was an American criminal and bank robber active in the early 20th century, most notably as a criminal associate of John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson.
Aurora, a suburb of Chicago, is a city in DuPage, Kane, Kendall, and Will counties in the U.S. state of Illinois. Located primarily in DuPage and Kane counties, it is an outer suburb of Chicago and the second most populous city in the state, and the 114th most populous city in the country. The population was 197,899 at the 2010 census, and was estimated to have increased to 200,965 by 2017.
John "Red" Hamilton was a Canadian criminal and bank robber active in the mid 20th century, most notably as an associate of John Dillinger. He is best known for his lingering death and secret burial after being mortally wounded during a robbery.
Davis and Murray were never charged with the holdups he committed while part of the Karpis-Barker Gang. However, they were indicted for the Bremer kidnapping on January 22, 1935. A little over two weeks later, Davis was captured in St. Louis by federal agents on February 6 but escaped from federal custody the next day. He had been traveling under escort to stand trial in St. Paul when their plane was forced to land in Yorkville, Illinois. Once on the ground, Davis knocked out a guard and stole a car. He evaded capture for nearly four months before being traced to Chicago by the FBI and arrested by Agent Melvin Purvis on June 1. He was eventually returned to St. Paul where he was convicted of kidnapping and sentenced to life imprisonment.Davis cooperated with the government and gave information as well as testified against other members of the gang.
Yorkville is a city in Kendall County, Illinois, United States. The population was 16,921 at the 2010 census and was estimated at 19,388 as of 1 July 2017. It is the county seat of Kendall County.
Melvin Horace Purvis II was an American law enforcement official and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent. Given the nickname "Little Mel" because of his small boned 5′4″ frame, Purvis became noted for leading the manhunts that tracked such bank robbers as Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, and Pretty Boy Floyd, but his high public profile was resented by local law enforcement.
Like the rest of the Karpis-Barker Gang, Davis was sent to Alcatraz, where he spent the next several decades. He did not participate in the escape attempt organized by Arthur Barker in 1939. There are claims that he became involved in a violent fistfight with Karpis, which he won. By the time of his release in the late 1950s, however, he was in poor health.Davis married Daisy Irene Graham on May 21, 1960, in Contra Costa County, California, and resided in Guerneville, California. He died on July 20, 1979, in Sonoma County, California.
Contra Costa County is a county in the state of California in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the population was 1,049,025. The county seat is Martinez. It occupies the northern portion of the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area, and is primarily suburban. The county's name is Spanish for "opposite coast", referring to its position on the other side of the bay from San Francisco. Contra Costa County is included in the San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Guerneville is an unincorporated community and census-designated place in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County, California, United States. The town is historically known for the logging community, formed in the late 1800s. Guerneville is also known for its natural environment, liberal atmosphere, and proximity to wine-tasting and redwood forests. It was founded by the Guerne family in the 1850s.
Sonoma County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 483,878. Its county seat and largest city is Santa Rosa. It is to the north of Marin County and the south of Mendocino County. It is west of Napa County and Lake County.
Kate Barker, better known as Ma Barker and sometimes as Arizona Barker, was the mother of several American criminals who ran the Barker-Karpis gang during the "public enemy era" when the exploits of gangs of criminals in the Midwest gripped the American people and press. She traveled with her sons during their criminal careers.
Joseph P. Moran (1895–1934) was an American doctor known for catering to the Depression-era criminal underworld in the early 20th century. He was also a peripheral member of the Barker-Karpis gang, and was possibly the last physician to see the mortally wounded John Hamilton, a member of the John Dillinger gang, whom Moran refused to treat.
Arthur R. Barker was an American criminal, the son of Ma Barker and a member of the Barker-Karpis gang, founded by his brother Fred Barker and Alvin Karpis. Generally known as "Doc", Barker was typically called on for violent action, while Fred and Karpis planned the gang's crimes. He was arrested and convicted of kidnapping in 1935. Sent to Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in 1936, he was killed three years later while attempting to escape from the Rock.
Ma Barker's Killer Brood is a neo noir crime film, released in 1960. The low-budget film was directed by Bill Karn and starred Lurene Tuttle as the title character, Ma Barker.
John Paul Chase was an American bank robber and Depression-era outlaw. He was a longtime criminal associate of the Karpis-Barker Gang and most notably Baby Face Nelson who later brought him into the John Dillinger gang. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover once referred to Chase as "a rat with a patriotic-sounding name". Chase and Nelson continued to rob banks with John Dillinger until Dillinger's death in July 1934. After the death of Nelson in November 1934, Chase fled back to California where he was arrested a month later on December 27, 1934. Chase was sent to Alcatraz where he became one of the longest-serving inmates;.
Russell Lee "Boobie" Clark was an American thief, bank robber and prison escapee. He is best known as the "good natured" member of the John Dillinger gang and participated in armed holdups with them in a three-month crime spree across the Midwestern United States from October 1933 until his capture in January 1934.
Ed Davis was an American burglar, bank robber and Depression-era outlaw. He was especially active in Oklahoma, referred to by authorities as "The Fox", and frequently teamed with Jim Clark and Frank Sawyer during the early 1930s. Eventually captured in 1934, he was involved in a failed escape attempt from Folsom State Prison, resulting in the deaths of one guard and two inmates, and was executed at San Quentin.
The Cretzer-Kyle Gang was a Depression-era criminal group led by Joseph "Dutch" Cretzer and Arnold Thomas Kyle during the mid-to late 1930s. Largely active in the West Coast, they were one of the few groups to gain national attention outside the Midwest and also one of the last groups to be captured by the FBI at the end of the decade. Cretzer was killed in a failed attempt to escape Alcatraz resulting in the 1946 prison riot.
Lawrence DeVol was an American criminal, bank robber, prison escapee and Depression-era outlaw. He was connected to several Midwestern gangs during the 1920s and 1930s, most often with the Barker-Alvin Karpis and Holden-Keating Gangs, and was also a former partner of Harvey Bailey early in his criminal career. DeVol is known to have killed at least eleven people during his criminal career, including six law enforcement officers.
Russell "Slim Gray" Gibson was an American bank robber and Depression-era outlaw associated with Alvin Karpis and the Barker Gang during the late 1920s and 1930s. Gibson spent much of his early criminal career with the Central Park Gang based in Tulsa, Oklahoma which included the Barkers, Volney Davis, Ray Terrill and other local criminal figures. He participated in his first major robbery when he teamed with Neal Merritt and James "Cowboy" Long to rob a bank messenger in Oklahoma City of $75,000. Gibson was arrested for this robbery but escaped from county jail prior to his trial.
James Franklin "Frank" Sawyer was an American Depression-era bank robber and prison escapee. An associate of Jim Clark, Ed Davis and other fellow Oklahoma bandits, he was a participant in countless bank robberies throughout Kansas and Oklahoma between 1917 and 1933. He was wrongfully imprisoned for a 1932 bank robbery in Fort Scott, Kansas and spent almost 40 years in prison before he was pardoned by Governor Robert Docking in 1969.
Verne Sankey and Gordon Alcorn were a pair of Depression-era outlaws whose successful kidnappings of Haskell Bohn and Charles Boettcher II in 1932 made them two of the most wanted criminals in the United States, and inspired a number of other kidnappings across the country. Their eventual capture was, in fact, a direct result of one of these copycat kidnappings, of which they themselves were wrongly accused. Sankey was initially a suspect in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping but was cleared after an investigation by the FBI.
Harold Eugene "Eddie" Green was an American bank robber and Depression-era outlaw during the 1930s, best known as a member of the John Dillinger gang. He was also associated with Frank "Jelly" Nash, Volney Davis and the Barker-Karpis Gang in his early career.
Frederick George Barker (1901–1935) was one of the founders of the Barker-Karpis gang, which committed numerous robberies, murders and kidnappings during the 1930s. He was the youngest son of Ma Barker, all of whose children were criminals. He was killed in a lengthy gunfight with the FBI in 1935.
The Kimes-Terrill Gang was a bank robbing gang, led by Matthew Kimes and Ray Terrill, active in the Midwestern United States during the 1920s. The gang was known, not only for their high-profile robberies, but for their frequent escapes from prison. The members were alleged to have sworn a blood oath to free each other from jail, should they ever be captured, or die in the attempt.
The Barker–Karpis Gang was one of the longest-lived criminal gangs during the Depression Era, spanning from 1931 to 1935. The gang was founded by Fred Barker and Alvin Karpis, and later joined by Fred's brother Arthur "Doc" Barker. Along with the three core members, the gang's network spanned up to 25 members at one point.