Over the next few weeks, Karpis and Fred Barker pulled off a string of crimes in Missouri, including the burglary of McCallon’s clothing store in West Plains on December 17th.  Two days later, Karpis and Barker pulled into the Davidson’s Garage in West Plains.  Karpis’ vehicle, a 1931 blue De Soto, had two flat tires that needed repair.  Recognizing that the vehicle matched the description of one near McCallon’s store the night of the robbery, the suspicious garage owner quickly contacted Howell County sheriff C.R. “Roy” Kelly.  When the sheriff arrived on the scene, Karpis and Barker were still seated in their car.  As Kelly approached the driver’s side of the DeSoto to investigate, Barker and Karpis opened fire on the sheriff killing him.

On the Lam

After the murders of the two lawmen, the Barker-Karpis gang went on the run. In February of 1932, they arrived in St. Paul, a safe haven for criminals due to the O’Connor layover agreement. The O’Connor system allowed criminals to remain in St. Paul under three conditions: they had to check in with police upon their arrival; they had to give a portion of their earnings to the police department; and while in St. Paul they couldn’t commit any major crimes, though Minneapolis was fair game.

Upon their arrival in the city, the gang, posing as a family of musicians, rented a house at 1031 South Robert Street. At the time, the house was owned by the Hannegraf family.  The Hannegrafs had no concerns with renting their home to what appeared to be a middle-aged mother and her family of nice young men. During their time in the house, the tenants were reportedly quite friendly with their neighbors.

Despite being on the run and in hiding, however, the gang couldn’t resist planning a job. On March 29, 1932, the Barker-Karpis gang robbed the Northwestern National Bank and Trust over the river in Minneapolis.  No one was injured or killed during the robbery, but the gang made off with $266,500 in cash, coins and bonds. Their escape vehicle was a Lincoln owned by an executive of the National Lead Battery Co. of St. Paul, which the gang had stolen specifically for the bank heist.