What's the address of the building where on May 1, 1936, the FBI located Karpis in New Orleans?
Donald J. Landry
What a day it was — such excitement at 3343 Canal St. near Jefferson Davis Parkway. You should have been there. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover came to New Orleans to personally capture Public Enemy No. 1 Alvin Karpis — a leader of the Barker-Karpis gang — and become a hero.
Karpis, also known as "Old Creepy," was born Aug. 10, 1907, in Montreal, Canada. He began a life of crime early; his first prison sentence was in 1926.
Just three weeks before his arrest in New Orleans, Karpis had rented an apartment on Canal Street under the alias Ed O'Hara.
The area around his apartment was crawling with federal officers armed with machine guns and pistols. The agents had been working on the case for two years and were ready to make the arrest. But Hoover wanted to get the credit, so he showed up in New Orleans three days before the capture.
When Old Creepy left his apartment at 5:30 p.m. that day in May, more than 12 agents, led by Hoover, were waiting for him. As the story goes, they shouted "Stick 'em up," perhaps a nod to Karpis' history of robberies. Even though he was armed, Karpis did as he was told and the whole event was over in minutes. There was one unusual problem: When Hoover told agents to handcuff Karpis, he discovered no one had brought handcuffs because they had planned on having to kill him. They tied up Karpis with an agent's necktie. "He didn't have a chance," Hoover told a reporter.
Karpis told a different version. "I noticed someone peeping around the corner of a building," he said. "Several agents begin shouting, 'It's OK. Come on Chief. We got him. You can come out now.'" Either way, the capture of Karpis made Hoover famous, and he became Public Hero No. 1.
After the arrest, Mrs. J. B. Mayer, owner of the apartment Karpis rented, said, "He was such a nice, quiet little man. He is just a boy. I can't imagine such a slim fellow being as bad as they say he is." (Karpis was 5-foot-10 and weighed 128 pounds.)
Karpis was the only man Hoover ever arrested, and Hoover was the last person ever to arrest the outlaw. Old Creepy spent 26 years in Alcatraz Federal Prison — longer than any other prisoner. In April 1962, Karpis was transferred to McNeil Island Penitentiary near Steilacoom, Wash., because Alcatraz was closing.
He was released in 1969 and was deported to his native Canada. Karpis wrote his memoirs, Public Enemy Number One: The Alvin Karpis Story (McClelland and Stewart,1971), and retired to Spain before he died in 1979.
Upon his death, the following appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Gangster Alvin Karpis apparently died of natural causes, police said, contradicting earlier reports that he had committed suicide by taking an overdose of sleeping pills. Karpis, triggerman for the notorious Ma Barker Gang that terrorized the Midwest with blazing machine guns in the 1930s, was found dead Tuesday at his home on Spain's Costa del Sol. He was 71."