Thursday, December 14, 2017
Human Interest

Behind the Lens: Three photos of the ghost of Ma Barker?

In 1935 FBI agents swapped gunfire for six hours with Ma and Fred Barker, gangsters on the run in a rented lakeside home in Ocklawaha, FL. When the gunfire stopped, Ma was dead in a bedroom, clutching her machine gun. Fred had been shot in the back of the head. The home owners have for years reported hearing voices and furniture moving. Others claim the ghost of Ma Barker has confronted them.

In 2012 Lane DeGregory and myself were in the home doing a real estate story about the historic home for sale. I was alone in the bedroom Ma died in, taking pictures out the window, and the mattress fell through the middle of the antique bed frame. I hadn't touched it.

I used to have an antique bed frame. I know modern mattresses are a bit smaller than old frames. They can easily fall through the middle if they get wiggled. I am more of a believer in good ghost stories than in actual ghosts...but...when that mattress dropped, I was outta there. All the way outta. Down the stairs, out the door and in the front yard outta there.

I was photographing the house with a Speed Graphic camera, the old fashioned kind they used in the 1930's. Before we left I shot four or five pictures of the front of the house and got them processed a few days later. Looking at the sheets of film on the light table, I saw something creepy in the doorway. I scanned the film, zoomed in, and immediately got creeped out.

My first thought was "And stay out!"

My second thought was that there are shadows in windows of all houses, all the time. Maybe we only look for ghosts in the spooky ones?

You be the judge.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

They recently sold the land and are moving the house to a state park. Two more people claim to have pictures of Ma Barker's ghost in the house. Three ghost pictures? Hmmmmm.

What do you think?

This one is from Tony Stewart, a crime biographer:

Tony Stewart

Another from Donald J. Weiss, retired police officer:

Donald J. Weiss

Donald J. Weiss

So….do you believe in ghosts?

John Pendygraft

www.johnpendygraft.com

Twitter/Instagram: @pendygraft

Tampa Bay Times

727-580-1866

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