this day in crime history: january 13, 1939

On this date in 1939, five inmates, including Arthur “Doc” Barker of the infamous Karpis-Barker gang, attempted to escape from the federal prison on Alcatraz Island. The men escaped from the cell house after sawing and bending the bars on a window. They made their way to the shoreline and attempted to escape on a makeshift raft. When they were discovered, three of the inmates, William Martin, Henri Young, and Rufus McCain surrendered. Barker and inmate Dale Stamphill were shot by guards. Barker died later from his wounds.

Further reading:

Alcatraz Escape Attempts

Alcatraz – Escapes

Alcatraz – Arthur “Doc” Barker

9 thoughts on “this day in crime history: january 13, 1939

  1. John D.:
    Never knew ANY of the Barker Gang were sent to THE ROCK…

    And I didn’t know that Karpis and Barker had teamed up.
    Always thought “Ma” had her gang and that was it.

    Very good story and links.

    Roll safe out there.


    • Yup, Karpis was the brains of the operation. Ma just tagged along and cooked and cleaned for the gang. Her status as a criminal mastermind appears to have been invented by the FBI. Probably to deflect some of the heat from having filled her full of bullet holes.


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