The Ashley Gang was Florida’s equivalent of Jesse James and Al Capone rolled in to one criminal package. Between 1911 and 1924, these brazen bandits left a trail of crime from the Everglades to Jacksonville.
The gang was led by John Ashley who, after robbing and killing fellow trapper Desoto Tiger, fled into the swamps with his brothers in tow. After a legendary standoff with local lawmen, The Ashley gang became infamous. Just about every crime in southwest Florida was blamed on them, whether they did it or not. Yet, as ruthless as they were, they stuck to one golden rule … never rob a woman!
The Ashley Gang was soon joined by Chicago mobster, Kid Lowe, and just about any other desperado looking for a home. They terrorized Florida banks and railroads until Sheriff Robert Baker received a tip that the gang was plotting its final robbery. A trap was set up on a bridge over the Sebastian inlet near Fort Pierce, and the Ashley gang was captured and taken into custody. John Ashley had other plans though. John pulled a concealed weapon on the deputies and began to fire. When all was said and done, John Ashley and three members of his gang laid in a pool of blood on the bridge.
Six deceased gangsters were buried just outside of Gomez, in the Ashley Family Cemetery. According to local legend, something else is buried there as well …. stolen loot that the gang never had a chance to recover before their deaths. Today, the cemetery sits in the middle of an exclusive residential development called Mariner Sands, where the infamous members of the Ashley Gang are now resting in the midst of millionaires and bankers.