Alvin Karpis

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Alvin Karpis, also referred to as “Creepy,” was a renowned gangster and a founding member of the infamous “Barker-Karpis Gang,” which gained notoriety in the US in the 1930s for its brutal deeds. At an early age, he began his criminal career and made friends with gamblers, pimps, and bootleggers. He was first apprehended for breaking and entering and given a 10-year sentence at the “State Industrial Reformatory,” where he subsequently escaped. When he was incarcerated at the “Kansas State Prison,” he met Fred Barker of the infamous “Bloody Barkers.” His gang began by robbing banks but quickly realized that kidnapping offered a more lucrative opportunity. Millionaires William Hamm and Edward Bremer were abducted, and they demanded $100,000 and $200,000 in ransoms, respectively. Karpis was caught in New Orleans after the “Federal Bureau of Investigation” (FBI) began operations to capture him. He received a life term after being found guilty at the “St. Paul Federal Courts” trial. He stayed in Alcatraz for 26 years. He was moved to the “McNeil Island Prison” in Washington after Alcatraz was closed. Later, he was given parole and sent back to Canada. Later in life, he relocated to Spain. In 1979, he overdosed on drugs and passed away.

Early Youth & Life

Albin Francis Karpaviius was the son of Lithuanian emigrants John and Anna Karpaviius and was born on August 10, 1907, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was reared in Kansas’s Wichita. At the age of ten, he started hanging out with bettors, pimps, and drug dealers.

He was charged with breaking and entering before he turned 20 and received a 10-year term at the Kansas “State Industrial Reformatory” in Hutchinson. Together with a friend called Lawrence De Vol, he broke out of the reformatory, and they continued to commit crimes until Lawrence was apprehended.

Alvin relocated to Kansas City, Missouri, where he was detained for auto theft and transported to the “Kansas State Penitentiary” in Lansing, where he met Fred Barker, a member of the infamous “Bloody Barkers” group. Fred was then spending time robbing a bank.

The Barkers family members were progressively exterminated. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Fred Barker and Alvin Karpis established the “Barker-Karpis Gang” in 1931. The gang, which was ruthless in its methods and did not think twice about killing, rose to become one of the most dreaded groups.

Illegal Behavior of Alvin Karpis

Karpis and Fred murdered the sheriff in December 1931 while he was looking into the gang’s involvement in a store theft. The group ran into some issues as a result. The gang then split up while they awaited an improvement in the circumstance.

Karpis rose to become the gang’s commander and was renowned for his keen memory and presence of mind, which earned him the respect of the group’s other members and enabled him to elude law enforcement. They quickly moved on from robbing banks to kidnappings and extortions as a profitable business.

In 1933, the group abducted William Hamm, a wealthy brewer from Minnesota, and demanded a $100,000 ransom in exchange for his release. As they acquired confidence, they quickly kidnapped wealthy banker Edward Bremer from St. Paul. His freedom cost $200,000 in ransom.

President Roosevelt and Edward Bremer’s father were close friends, so the police agency quickly increased its operations to stop a kidnapping in the state. The “Barker-Karpis Group” suffered as a result.

In January 1935, after Ma Barker and Fred were slain in a shootout with the “FBI,” attention returned to Karpis, who the “FBI” had designated as “Public Enemy Number 1.” On the roster, the first three gangsters had already been taken out. Karpis persisted in his illegal behavior. He had to keep a low image, though, in order to avoid the law.

The “FBI” began its hunt for Karpis in May 1936 and was eventually successful in capturing him by trapping him in his vehicle in New Orleans. Although according to Karpis, he arrived at the site only after the action had ended, J Edgar Hoover, the “FBI” chief at the time, claimed personal credit for the arrest.

At his trial in the “St. Paul Federal Courts,” Karpis originally entered a not-guilty plea. On the counsel of his attorney, he subsequently agreed to plead guilty to the Bremer conspiracy in exchange for the dismissal of the kidnapping charges.

He received a life sentence and served the following 26 years in Alcatraz. He was forced to labor in the bakery while he was being held captive. He was moved to the “McNeil Island Prison” in Washington in April 1962, when Alcatraz was closed. He frequently encountered conflict with both the officials and other prisoners during his time in prison.

In 1969, he received a pardon and was sent back to Canada. He struggled greatly to obtain a Canadian passport because the surgery had previously removed his fingerprints. While residing in Montreal in 1971, he wrote his autobiography. A year later, in 1980, he also wrote another book that was released.

Bigger Productions of Alvin Karpis

Public Enemy Number One: The Alvin Karpis Story, his debut novel, was released in 1971. The same term also applies to a television documentary. After his passing in 1980, his second work, “On the Rock: Twenty-five Years in Alcatraz,” co-written with Robert Livesey, was released.

Individual Existence of Alvin Karpis

In January 1935, Karpis had a narrow escape from the police in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where his girlfriend, Dolores Delaney, was hurt in a shootout. At the time of the incident, she was eight months along in her pregnancy. She later gave birth to a son, whom Karpis’ parents later adopted. Karpis sought refuge with brothel owner Edith Barry during this time in order to avoid the police.

In 1973, he relocated to Spain. He was known to be a voracious reader, to have a good sense of humor, and to appreciate the company of women despite the criminal life he had led. His final girlfriend, Nancy, was responsible for introducing him to drugs and alcohol, which eventually led to his death in August 1979.

Karpis was not the kind of individual to give up on life or commit suicide, yet his death was given as a suicide. Some reports claim that the pill overdose may have been unintentional.


Ma Barker is thought to have held the group in her iron grip. Alvin asserted that they only told her and made their own operational plans. When the federal agents discovered they had killed a 62-year-old mother, they made Ma Barker out to be the leader of the gang, according to Harvey Bailey, a well-known bank robber.

He was given the moniker “Creepy” because of his eerie grin, and between 1931 and 1936, he is thought to be responsible for over ten murders and a dozen kidnappings.

While incarcerated at the federal prison in Washington, he encountered Charles Manson. During that time, he claims to have taught Manson how to play the guitar.