Wynona Burdett and the FBI file: Barker-Karpis Gang
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known bank robber and Larry DeVol, a friend of Karpis, with whom he was arrested in Kansas City, Missouri prior to his return to the Kansas State Industrial Reformatory at Hutchinson, Kansas. Also with this gang was Bernard Phillips, a policeman who had turned to the profession of bank robbery. The entire mob was residing in close proximity to each other in Kansas City, Missouri and planned new depredations. Kansas City was used as the hide-out. On June 17, 1932 Fred Barker, Keating, Holden, Bailey, DeVol, Karpis and Phillips made a raid on a Fort Scott, Kansas bank, after which they returned to Kansas City, Missouri and split the loot in the apartment occupied by Fred Barker, Ma Barker and Alvin Karpis, located at 4804 Jefferson Street, Kansas City, Missouri.
On the date of the robbery of the bank at Fort Scott, Kansas, another criminal who was to join the Karpis-Barker gang was released from the Kansas State Penitentiary at Lansing, Kansas. While in the penitentiary at Lansing, Kansas, Fred Barker and Alvin Karpis became acquainted with Jess Doyle, who had been received at that Institution on March 19, 1927 to serve a five to ten year sentence for second degree burglary and grand larceny. Doyle had served a previous sentence in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary for the larceny of an automobile. He had been received at that Institution on April 21, 1921 and was released at the expiration of his term on July 28, 1926 and less than a year later, Doyle found himself in the State Penitentiary at Lansing, Kansas. Prior to the release of Fred Barker, he made arrangements with Jess Doyle to meet the latter in Kansas City, Missouri at the expiration of Doyle's term, which was on June 17, 1932. In accordance with this arrangement, Jess Doyle immediately procceded to Kansas City, Missouri after his release and met Fred Barker in front of the Majestic Hotel. Fred Barker was well supplied with money at this time and from the spoils of the Fort Scott bank Fred gave Doyle four or five hundred dollars for clothes and other expenses. At Barker's apartment that night a celebration was held to celebrate the successful robbery of the bank and the release of Jess Doyle from the penitentiary. Those who attended this party in Fred Barker's apartment were Francis Keating, Thomas Holden, Harvey Bailey, Larry DeVol, Alvin Karpis and Bernard Phillips.
Kate Barker, with her son Fred and Karpis lived at the Longfellow Apartments in Kansas City, Missouri from May 12, 1932 until July 5, 1932, on which latter date they moved from this apartment as a safety measure, and began living at an apartment at 414 West 46th Terrance in Kansas City, Missouri under the name of Mrs. A. F. Hunter and "sons". Ma Barker was the housekeeper for Fred and Karpis and for a few days they enjoyed the homelike atmosphere which Ma Barker endeavored to create. Larry DeVol was also living in the same apartment building in which Ma Barker lived. This tranquility, however, was disturbed on July 7, 1932 by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who had been for some time endeavoring to cause the apprehension of Francis Keating and Thomas Holden to return them to Leaven-
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worth to complete the sentences which they were serving for mail robbery. Special Agents had learned that Keating and Holden were golf enthusiasts and a Special Agent in checking the golf courses in Kansas City, Missouri located Keating, Holden and Harvey Bailey playing golf on the Old Mission Golf Course on July 7, 1932. Holden and Keating were apprehended on that date and returned to the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Harvey Bailey was found to have a liberty bond in his possession which had been stolen from the Fort Scott, Kansas Bank. He was removed to Fort Scott, Kansas by state authorities and identified as one of the participants in the robbery of the bank at that place on June 17, 1932 and was later convicted and received a ten to fifty year sentence to be served in the Kansas State Penitentiary. The fourth member of the foursome who had been playing golf with holden, Keating and Bailey on the Old Mission Golf Course that day was Bernard Phillips, who by chance was not with the other three men at the time of their apprehension, which occurred at about 3:00 in the afternoon. Phillips apparently carried this disturbing news to other members of the gang, for it was learned that Kate Barker and her son Fred, with Alvin Karpis, hurriedly departed from their apartment about 5:30 P.M. on the same date that the arrests took place, leaving a fully cooked meal on the table. The condition of the apartment when later examined by Special Agents, clearly indicated that the fugitives had made a rapid departure.
From Kansas City, Missouri, Fred Barker, Kate Barker, Alvin Karpis, Bernard Phillips and Jess Doyle fled to St. Paul Minnesota and later, on July 9, 1932, rented a cottage at Mabtomedi, a summer resort on White Bear Lake, Minnesota. While living in the vicinity of St. Paul, the mob relaxed by frequenting the saloon operated by Harry Sawyer at 545 Wabashe Street and also found entertainment at the Hollyhocks, a night club operated by John (Jack) Peifer, who later committed suicide after he was convicted and sentenced on July 31, 1936 to serve thirty years' imprisonment for participating in the kidnaping of William A. Hamm, Jr., a wealthy St. Paul brewer.
It is reported that around the period Fred Barker and Alvin Karpis were living at White Bear Lake, Minnesota, they were associated with a criminal attorney, one J. Earl Smith of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and subsequent to the robbery of the Fort Scott bank at Fort Scott, Kansas and the apprehension of Harvey Bailey, Smith was retained to defend Bailey at his trial. After Bailey was convicted and sentenced, Smith received a mysterious telephone call on the morning of August 13, 1932 and the next morning Smith's body was found bullet riddled at the Indian Hills Country Club, fourteen miles north of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Earl Christman, a confidence man who was a fugitive from the Indiana State Penitentiary, with his moll, Helen Ferguson, sought refuge in St. Paul
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and through Harry Sawyer, Earl Christman and Helen Ferguson became acquainted with Alvin Karpis, Fred Barker and other members of the gang who at that time were frequenting St. Paul, Minnesota. The associates of the gang at this time included Frank Nash, also an escape from the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas and Nash, like Fred Barker, was an intimate friend of Herbert Farmer of Joplin, Missouri. On July 26, 1932 Karpis and Fred Barker with their augmented gang, left their hide-out at White Bear Lake, Minnesota and staged a daring daylight robbery of the Cloud County Bank at Concordia, Kansas, securing approximately $240,000 in bonds and an indefinite amount of cash and after a successful escape returned to their hide-out at White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
At this period of time, Arthur "Doc" Barker was confined in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary and negotiations were under way looking towards the release of "Doc" Barker from the Penitentiary. The Karpis-Barker gang was now becoming well organized and through the efforts of Fred Barker and Alvin Karpis, a private detective at Leavenworth, Kansas by the name of Jack Glynn was successful in securing the release of "Doc" Barker from the Penitentiary on September 10, 1932. Immediately after the release of "Doc" Barker from the Penitentiary, he went to visit his father at Neosho, Missouri, as the condition of his parole was that he should leave the State of Oklahoma and never return. After a short visit with his father, "Doc" Barker joined his mother and brother Fred in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ma Barker now had two sons to provide her with a life of luxury. Her oldest son, Herman Barker, after an extensive criminal career beginning on March 5, 1915 by an arrest by the Police Department of Joplin, Missouri for a highway robbery and followed by several other arrests on various charges, was cornered by police officers at Wichita, Kansas on August 29, 1927 after he had killed a police officer. Herman Barker committed suicide rather than submit to arrest. Lloyd Barker was also prevented from becoming a member of the gang due to his incarceration in the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas, where he had been received on January 16, 1932 to serve a twenty-five year sentence for robbing the United States Mail. Efforts on the part of Fred Barker and other members of the gang to secure the release of Lloyd Barker on parole were not successful.
Efforts, however, to secure the release of Volney Davis from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary were successful and on November 3, 1932, less than two months after the release of his fellow murderer, "Doc" Barker, Davis was granted a leave of absence from the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, which leave of absence was to permit Volney Davis to roam the country at will until July 1, 1934, when he was to again report to the Penitentiary officials, which he failed to do. The reunion between Volney Davis and "Doc" Barker took place at Leavenworth, Kansas, after which they immediately proceeded to St. Paul, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, Volney Davis took a vacation and with Kate Barker made a trip to California where they visited the latter's sister. Fred
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November 1932 to December 1932, Fred Barker, "Doc" Barker, Alvin Karpis and Jess Doyle were residing at the Twin Oaks Apartment in St. Paul, Minnesota. Larry DeVol also was in St. Paul, Minnesota at this time and was residing in an apartment on Grand Avenue. The citizens of the Minnesota Twin Cities and vicinity until this time had been unmolested so far as known from the depredations of the Karpis-Barker mob, but the gang planned new crimes and the immunity which had been enjoyed by the citizens in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota was to soon cease, for on December 16, 1932 Fred Barker, "Doc" Barker, Larry DeVol, Alvin Karpis, William Weaver, Verne Miller and Jess Doyle robbed the Third Northwestern Bank of Minneapolis at Minneapolis, Minnesota and during the perpetration of the robbery, two police officers and a civilian were murdered by machine gun bullets fired by members of this gang. The civilian was murdered because the robbers believed he was endeavoring to secure the license number of the gang's getaway car. Five days later, Larry DeVol was arrested in an apartment house and there was found some sixteen to seventeen thousand dollars in his possession which was identified as part of the loot of the Third Northwestern Bank robbery. He pleaded guilty to a charge of murder and was sentenced to serve life imprisonment in the Minnesota State Penitentiary at Stillwater, Minnesota. Immediately after the arrest of Larry DeVol, the news was carried to the other members of the gang by Harry Hull and a rapid exit was made from the Twin Cities by Fred Barker, "Doc" Barker, Alvin Karpis, Jess Doyle, William Weaver and Harry Hull, their destination being Reno, Nevada. At Reno they joined Earl Christman and Helen Ferguson, Kate Barker and Volney Davis who had returned from their vacation in California and were in Reno, Nevada at the time other members of the gang arrived there.
Prior to the conviction of Volney Davis for murder in the State of Oklahoma he had known and associated with Edna Murray. In tracing the history of Edna Murray, it was learned that she was born in Marion, Kansas on May 26, 1898, the daughter of H. D. and Luella Stanley. When Edna was still a small child, she moved with her father to Cardin, Oklahoma. Edna had one sister, Doris, later to become known as Doris O'Connor and three brothers, Matt, Floyd and Harry. The family's income was derived from the rent of miners' shanties which were owned by Edna's father near Cardin, Oklahoma. Edna Murray at the age of twenty-three was working as a waitress and cashier at the Imperial Cafe in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and it was here that she first became the sweetheart of Volney Davis. After Davis was sentenced to life imprisonment, Edna Murray left her employment in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and sought other means of livelihood in Kansas City, Missouri. Here she met Fred Sullivan, alias "Diamond Joe", a jewel thief, and it is said that Edna Murray married this man. Edna had twice before been married. Her first husband's name was Patton and by this marriage she had one son, Preston. Her second husband was Walter Price. Edna after meeting Sullivan continued to live with him until the year 1924 when Sullivan was convicted of murder
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and subsequently electorcuted at Little Rock, Arkansas. Jack Murray, a Kansas City, Missouri bootlegger, was Edna Murray's next man and with Murray Edna engaged in the illicit traffic of liquor, assisting Murray in transporting the same from New Orleans, Louisiana to Kansas City, Missouri. These activities on the part of Edna Murray continued until the night of April 6, 1925, when she and Jack Murray were arrested and charged with the holdup of one H. B. Southward at Kansas City, Missouri and for this crime Edna and Jack Murray were convicted at Kansas City, Missouri on October 1, 1925 and each sentenced to serve a twenty-five year sentence in the Missouri State Penitentiary. From the alleged activities of Edna Murray during this holdup, the press gave her the sobriquet of the "Flapper Bandit" or the "Kissing Bandit".
Edna Murray was confined in the Missouri State Penitentiary on December 3, 1925 and soon acquired another nickname - "Rabbits", due to her agility in escaping from that Institution on May 2, 1927. After this escape, Edna remained at liberty until she was arrested in Chicago, Illinois and returned to the Missouri State Penitentiary on September 10, 1931. Upon her return, Edna immediately began to plot another escape and on November 4, 1931 she again succeeded in escaping, but on this occasion her freedom was short-lived, as she was located and taken into custody the following day. Edna upon being returned to the Penitentiary at this time was placed in an individual cell, but she succeeded in conspiring with another inmate, Irene McCann, to escape the third time. Edna Murray and Irene McCann succeeded in sawing the bars of their cells and escaped on December 13, 1932. She immediately proceeded to Kansas City, Missouri and in some manner, Volney Davis, who was then in Reno, Nevada with other members of the gang, learned of the escape of Edna and proceeded to Kansas City, Missouri, where he met the woman who was to continue to live with him as his paramour and share in the loot of the notorious Karpis-Barker gang. Edna and Volney then joined the other in Reno, Nevada.
While in Reno, Nevada, dissension arose between Harry Hull and other members of the gang, as Hull had not believed in the time honored axiom "honor among thieves" and had stolen $250.00 and some clothes from Jess Doyle. Doyle anticipated that Hull would go to Kansas City, Missouri and he, with "Doc" Barker, set out by plane for that city in an effort to locate Hull and kill him. Their efforts in this regard, however, were unsuccessful.
Early in February 1933 found the members of the gang back in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they remained until March 4, 1933, when some member of the gang received information that the police were going to raid an apartment in which some members of the mob resided. The next refuge for this band of criminals was Chicago, Illinois and its suburbs. During March, 1933 they found refuge in various apartments in Oak Park, Illinois and found their entertainment at a roadhouse operated by Louis Cernocky at Fox River Grove, Illinois, which place had long been a rendezvous for such notorious criminals
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as Francis Keating, Thomas Holden and Frank Nash. They also found entertainment and refuge at the O. P. Inn, Maywood, Illinois, operated by Louis "Doc" Stacci, who had long been a known associate of criminals. At Chicago, Illinois the robbery of a bank at Fairbury, Nebraska was planned and on April 4, 1933 the Fairbury National Bank, Fairbury, Nebraska, was held up by Fred Barker, Volney Davis, Frank Nash, "Doc" Barker, Alvin Karpis, Earl Christman, Jess Doyle and Edward Green, commonly known as Eddie Green, an ex-convict who had joined members of the Karpis-Barker gang in St. Paul, Minnesota. Green was an accomplished bank robber and due to the close friendship between Harry Sawyer and Eddie Green, Green made numerous acquaintances with "hoodlums" who were making St. Paul their haven, including the Karpis-Barker gang. He became the close confident of Volney Davis, Alvin Karpis, Fred Barker and "Doc" Barker. During the robbery in Fairbury, Nebraska, Earl Christman was severely wounded. He was immediately rushed to the home of Vernon C. Miller at 6612 Edgevale Road, Kansas City, Missouri. The home of Miller was at that time considered a safe refuge for gangsters of the middle west. It was later destined to be highly publicized as a rendezvous for Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd and Adam Richetti, who gathered in Miller's home on the night of June 16, 1933 to formulate their planes for the unlawful delivery of Frank Nash, who was apprehended by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at Hot Springs, Arkansas on June 16, 1933. An attempt was made by Miller, Floyd and Richetti to free Frank Nash as Special Agents and police officers emerged from the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri on June 17, 1933. The attempt was bungled and instead of freeing Nash, he was the first to die in the blast of machine gun fire aimed at the officers by Miller and his associates. Special Agent Raymond J. Caffery, Chief of Police Otto Reed, of McAlester, Oklahoma, and William J. Grooms and Frank Hermanson, Detectives of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department, died as a result of this attemped delivery. Herbert Farmer and Louis "Doc" Stacci, harborers and confidents of the Karpis-Barker gang, were subsequently convicted in Federal Court at Kansas City, Missouri for conspiracy to deliver Frank Nash from the officers and each was sentenced to serve two years in a Federal Penitentiary and pay a fine of $10,000. At the time Christman was being held in Verne Miller's home in Kansas City, Missouri, the associates of Christman frantically sought the assistence of an underworld physician who was called upon to administer to the wounded Earl Christman. Christman, however, did not respond to this treatment and within a few days died and was buried in an inidentified grave.
The day following the robbery of the Fairbury National Bank, Fred Barker expressed his desire for a woman companion. He thought of a woman by the name of Paula Harmon, whom he had previously met at the home of his friend, Herbert Farmer, Joplin, Missouri. in accordance with Fred Barker's wishes, Vivian Lattie
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[This page is terribly blurry. I'm afraid there will be a lot of blanks (_______) in this transcription.]
the paramour of Verne Miller, telephoned Paula Harmon and asked her to visit Kansas City. Paula accepted this invitation and thereafter met Fred Barker at Vivian Lattie's home. Paula Harmon was the widow of a notorious bnak robber, Charles Harmon, who was killed while participating in the robbery of the Kraft State Bank at L___________, Wisconsin on November 19, 1931. She was a mative of Georgia, having been born in Demorest, Georgia on February 11, 19_4, the daughter of Annie and Bird Drenon. When Paula was two or three yers of age, her family moved to Port Arthur, Texas, where Paula later attended grade schools and it is said she attended an exclusive girl' finishing school in the south. She was first married to a man by the name of Dennis Hood at Port Arthur, Texas in the year 1921. Hood was employed as a mate on a ship and Paula's marriage to him was dissolved in the year 1922. She then secured employment as a c__________ operator in Houston, Texas and continued at this occupation until the year 1923, when she married Charles Harmon, who had just been released from the penitentiary at Huntsville, Texas after serving a term for bank robbery. She soon met the associates of her husband, Frank Nash, Verne Miller and Herbert Farmer and it was a short time after the relase of Fred Barker from the penitentiary that she first met him at Farmer's home. During the married life of Paula and Charles Harmon they quarreled frequently and during one of these quarrels, Paula separated from her husband, and operated a house of ill fame in Chicago, Illinois, for a short period of time.
Paula Harmon and Fred Barker on May 24, 1933 established a home at 3_4 Vernon Avenue, St. Paul, Minnesota under the name of Mr. and Mrs. J. Stanley ______. Other members of the gang established themselves in a cottage at Bald Eagle Isle, Minnesota in June of 1933.
On June 15, 1933, Mr. William A. Hamm, Jr., of the Theodore Hamm Brewing Company, St. Paul, Minnesota, was kidnaped by "Doc" Barker, Fred Barker, Alvin Karpis, Charles J. Fitzgerald, Bryan Bolton and Fred Goetz and transported to ______ville, Illinois, where he was held until his family had enriched the coffers of these notorious mobsters by $100,000, which was paid as ransom for the release of Mr. Hamm. Fred Goetz, had for a number of years known Jack Peifer and it was Peifer who originally conceived the plan to kidnap Mr. Hamm. Before aligning himself with criminals, he was a student at the Engineering School of the University of Illinois and participated as a player of the football team of that Institution. upon leaving the University of Illinois, he worked as a life guard at the
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It appears that it was through the existing friendship between Peifer and members of the Karpis-Barker gang that Goetz became one of their associates. As the result of the relationship between Bryan Bolton and Goetz, he was invited to participate in the kidnpaing of Mr. Hamm.
Charles J. Fitzgerald, an ex-convict with an extensive criminal record, had for a long period of time found refuge in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, being an intimate friend of Harry Sawyer and Jack Peifer. Like Goetz and Bolton, Fitzgerald also had friends among the underworld of Chicago, Illinois.
Subsequent to the release of Mr. Hamm on June 19, 1933, the gang which had now become a syndicate of crime fled from St. Paul, Minnesota to Chicago. Ma Barker during the rime that her sons Fred and "Doc" and their associates were engaged in the abduction of Mr. Hamm, was residing at 114 Home Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois, where she was in association with Helen Ferguson, the former paramour of Earl Christman. Volney Davis and Edna Murray, as Mr. and Mrs. E. V. Davis, were living in an apartment at 219 North Second Avenue, Maywood, Illinois. The entire gang rented and established themselves in other apartments in Chicago, Illinois. However, their criminal proclivities did not remain dormant, for on August 30, 1933 six bandits staged the robbery of a pay roll which was being delivered to the Stockyards National Bank at South St. Paul, Minnesota, in which $50,000 was obtained. During the course of the robbery, two police officers were shot by machine guns fired by the robbers, one of the officers being murdered and the other as a result of the wounds sustained is expected to be an invalid for the rest of his lfie. At the time of the robbery, one of the officers who was shot was equipped with a Thompson submachine gun, which was taken by one of the bandits after the officer had been wounded. More than a year later, a hide-out of the Karpis-Barker gang was raided at Cleveland, Ohio and there was found a "getaway" chart, which investigation disclosed began at zero at the Stockyards National Bank, South St. Paul, Minnesota and it is believed that this was a chart used by memeber of the Karpis-Barker gang in affecting their escape subsequent to the pay roll robbery.
The mob moved swiflty to Chicago, Illinois and in less than a month the newspapers announced the murder of a policeman in Chicago, Illinois, which murder occurred on September 22, 1933 as police officer Miles A. Cunningham endeavored to investigate an automobile accident near the intersection of Jackson Boulevard and Halsted Street in Chicago, Illinois. Officer Cunningham did not have the information that a few moments before two bank
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messengers were held up by five men at Jackson Boulevard and Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, seizing two sacks of registered mail which proved to be of no value to the bandits. In tracing the history of the Karpis-Barker gang, Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified that mob as being responsible for the murder of Officer Cunningham.
It appears that during the year 1933, William J. Harrison became acquainted with members of the Karpis-Barker gang through Fred Goetz. Harrison originally was from St. Louis, Misouri, where he was born on September 27, 1900. He spent the major portion of his adolescent years in St. Louis. In about 1926 he went to Calumet City, Illinois, where he operated numerous speak-easies during the Prohibition era. He became acquainted with the Capone Syndicate of Chicago and fraternized with persons of such notoriety as "Killer" Burke, Gus Winkeler and "Big" Homer Wilson. Harrison was a man of wide experience and as a result of his underworld activities was able to furnish members of the Karpis-Barker group some of their most valued contacts and without whom many of their sisnister designs would not have been consumated. Harrison, despite his precarious undertakings, was a man of wit and humor and served as a "court jester" or "court fool" to the amusement of his gangster affiliates.
While various members of the Karpis-Barker gang were on the rampage throughout the middle west perpetrating bank robberies and kidnapings, Harry Campbell, a boyhood associate of the Barker brothers, had been content to confine his criminal activities to the State of Oklahoma, where he was associated with Glen Leroy Wright and Charles Cotner, Oklahoma outlaws of a very desperate character who subsequently were incarcerated in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary. Very few intimate details are known of his early life. Harry Campbell was born on New Year's Day in the year 1900 at McClintocville, Pennsylvania. His family later moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was released and associated with the Barker boys, Volney Davis and Will Green. Green was later sentenced to serve a long term in the United States Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas, and was one of the leaders of the gang which affected it's escape from that Institution in December of 1931. Green later committed suicide rather than be apprehended.
In 1930 Campbell became acquainted with Wynona Burdette, a part Cherokee Indian woman whose family was very poor. Wynona was one of more than a dozen children in the family, nine of whom are now living. In the spring of 1933 Campbell frequented Casper, Wyoming, where it is alleged he engaged in the robbing of safes, but in a short while Campbell returned to Tulsa, Oklahoma and remained in the company of Wynona Burdette until September, 1933, when he received a communication from Fred Barker to join the gang at the Savoy Hotel, Hammond, Indiana and was promised that there was "big money" to be had by casting
"Ballad Of Jed Clampett"