|Born||John Herbert Dillinger
June 22, 1903
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
|Died||July 22, 1934
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Bank robbery, murder, assault, assault of an officer, grand theft auto|
|Imprisonment from 1924 to 1933|
|Spouse(s)||Beryl Hovius (divorced)|
John Herbert Dillinger (//; June 22, 1903 – July 22, 1934) was an American gangster and bank robber in the Depression-era United States. His gang robbed twenty-four banks and four police stations. Dillinger escaped from jail twice; he was also charged with, but never convicted of, the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana police officer who shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest during a shootout, prompting him to return fire. It was Dillinger's only homicide charge.
In the heyday of the Depression-era outlaw (1933–1934) Dillinger was the most notorious of all, standing out even among more violent criminals such as Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde. (Decades later, the first major book about '30s gangsters was titled The Dillinger Days.) Media reports in his time were spiced with exaggerated accounts of Dillinger's bravado and daringly colorful personality. The government demanded federal action, and J. Edgar Hoover developed a more sophisticated Federal Bureau of Investigation as a weapon against organized crime and used Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform to launch the FBI.
After evading police in four states for almost a year, Dillinger was wounded and returned to his father's home to recover. He returned to Chicago in July 1934 and met his end at the hands of police and federal agents who were informed of his whereabouts by Ana Cumpănaş (the owner of the brothel where Dillinger sought refuge at the time). On July 22, the police and Division of Investigation closed in on the Biograph Theater. Federal agents, led by Melvin Purvis and Samuel P. Cowley, moved to arrest Dillinger as he left the theater. He pulled a weapon and attempted to flee but was shot four times and killed.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Criminal career
- 3 Escape from Crown Point
- 4 Shootout at the Lincoln Court Apartments
- 5 A family reunion and picnic back on the farm
- 6 Final months
- 7 Plastic surgery at Probasco's house of horrors
- 8 Nash theory of Dillinger's escape
- 9 Challenging Nash's theory
- 10 Film depictions
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 Further reading
- 14 External links
Family and background
John Herbert Dillinger was born on June 22, 1903, in the Oak Hill section of Indianapolis, Indiana, the younger of two children born to John Wilson Dillinger (July 2, 1864 – November 3, 1943) and Mary Ellen "Mollie" Lancaster (1860–1907).:10 According to some biographers, his grandfather, Matthias Dillinger immigrated to the United States in 1851 from Metz, in the region of Lorraine, then under French sovereignty. Matthias Dillinger was born in Gisingen, near Dillingen, Saarland. Dillinger's parents had married on August 23, 1887. Dillinger's father was a grocer by trade and, reportedly, a harsh man.:9 In an interview with reporters, Dillinger said that he was firm in his discipline and believed in the adage "spare the rod and spoil the child".:12
Dillinger's older sister, Audrey, was born March 6, 1889. Their mother died in 1907 just before his fourth birthday. Audrey married Emmett "Fred" Hancock that year and they had seven children together. She cared for her brother John for several years until their father remarried in 1912 to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Patel (1878–1933). They had three children, Hubert, born 1912, Doris M. (December 12, 1918 – March 14, 2001) and Frances Dillinger (May 11, 1922 – January 13, 2015).
Reportedly, Dillinger initially disliked his stepmother, but he eventually came to fall in love with her. The two eventually began a relationship that lasted 3 years.
Formative years and marriage
As a teenager, Dillinger was frequently in trouble with the law for fighting and petty theft; he was also noted for his "bewildering personality" and bullying of smaller children.:14 He quit school to work in an Indianapolis machine shop. Although he worked hard at his job, he would stay out all night at parties. His father feared that the city was corrupting his son, prompting him to move the family to Mooresville, Indiana, in 1921.:15 Dillinger's wild and rebellious behavior was resilient despite his new rural life. In 1922 he was arrested for auto theft, and his relationship with his father deteriorated.:16–17 His troubles led him to enlist in the United States Navy where he was a Fireman 3rd Class assigned aboard the battleship USS Utah, but he deserted a few months later when his ship was docked in Boston. He was eventually dishonorably discharged.:18–20 Dillinger then returned to Mooresville where he met Beryl Ethel Hovious. The two were married on April 12, 1924. He attempted to settle down, but he had difficulty holding a job and preserving his marriage.:20 The marriage ended in divorce on June 20, 1929.
Dillinger was unable to find a job and began planning a robbery with his friend Ed Singleton.:22 The two robbed a local grocery store, stealing $50.:26 Leaving the scene they were spotted by a minister who recognized the men and reported them to the police. The two men were arrested the next day. Singleton pleaded not guilty, but after Dillinger's father (the local Mooresville Church deacon) discussed the matter with Morgan County prosecutor Omar O'Harrow, his father convinced Dillinger to confess to the crime and plead guilty without retaining a defense attorney.:24 Dillinger was convicted of assault and battery with intent to rob, and conspiracy to commit a felony. He expected a lenient probation sentence as a result of his father's discussion with prosecutor O'Harrow, but instead was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for his crimes. His father told reporters he regretted his advice and was appalled by the sentence. He pleaded with the judge to shorten the sentence but with no success.:25 (During the robbery Dillinger had struck a man on the head with a machine bolt wrapped in a cloth and had also carried a gun which, although it discharged, hit no one). En route to Mooresville to testify against Singleton, Dillinger briefly escaped his captors but was apprehended within a few minutes.:27Singleton was killed on August 31, 1937 by a train when he fell asleep drunk on train tracks.
Dillinger had embraced the criminal lifestyle behind bars in the Indiana Reformatory (1924–1930) in Pendleton, Indiana and Indiana State Prison in Michigan City. Upon being admitted to the prison he is quoted as saying, "I will be the meanest bastard you ever saw when I get out of here.":26 His physical examination upon being admitted to the prison showed that he had gonorrhea. The treatment for his condition was extremely painful.:22 He became embittered against society because of his long prison sentence and befriended other criminals, such as seasoned bank robbers like Harry "Pete" Pierpont, Charles Makley, Russell Clark, and Homer Van Meter, who taught Dillinger how to be a successful criminal. The men planned heists that they would commit soon after they were released.:32 Dillinger studied Herman Lamm's meticulous bank-robbing system and used it extensively throughout his criminal career.
His father launched a campaign to have him released and was able to get 188 signatures on a petition. Dillinger was paroled on May 10, 1933, after serving nine and a half years. Dillinger's stepmother became sick just before he was released from the prison, and she died before he arrived at her home.:37 Released at the height of the Great Depression, Dillinger had little prospect of finding employment.:35 He immediately returned to crime:39 and on June 21, 1933, he robbed his first bank, taking $10,000 from the New Carlisle National Bank, which occupied the building at the southeast corner of Main Street and Jefferson (State Routes 235 and 571) in New Carlisle, Ohio. On August 14, Dillinger robbed a bank in Bluffton, Ohio. Tracked by police from Dayton, Ohio, he was captured and later transferred to the Allen County jail in Lima to be indicted in connection to the Bluffton robbery. After searching him before letting him into the prison, the police discovered a document which appeared to be a prison escape plan. They demanded Dillinger tell them what the document meant, but he refused.
Dillinger had helped conceive a plan for the escape of Pierpont, Clark and six others he had met while previously in prison, most of whom worked in the prison laundry. Dillinger had friends smuggle guns into their prison cells, with which they escaped, four days after Dillinger's capture. The group, known as "the First Dillinger Gang," comprised Pete Pierpont, Russell Clark, Charles Makley, Ed Shouse, Harry Copeland, and John "Red" Hamilton, a member of the Herman Lamm Gang. Pierpont, Clark, and Makley arrived in Lima on October 12, where they impersonated Indiana State Police officers, claiming they had come to extradite Dillinger to Indiana. When the sheriff, Jess Sarber, asked for their credentials, Pierpont fatally shot him, then released Dillinger from his cell. The four men escaped back into Indiana where they joined the rest of the gang.
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The Bureau of Investigation was a precursor of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Bureau of Investigation was renamed the "Division" in 1933 until in the 1935 Department of Justice budget appropriation, Congress officially recognized the Division as the "Federal Bureau of Investigation" effective March 22, 1935, when the President signed the appropriation bill. The newly designated FBI was brought into the investigation to help identify the criminals, although the men had not violated any federal law. Bank robbery was not yet a federal crime, so police officers were powerless to pursue robbers across state lines. It was one of the first cases in which the FBI intervened in matters outside its jurisdiction. Using their superior fingerprint matching technology, they successfully identified all of the suspects and issued national bulletins offering rewards for their capture.
Banks confirmed to have been robbed by Dillinger were:
- Before Lima
- New Carlisle National Bank, New Carlisle, Ohio, of $10,000 on June 21, 1933;
- The Commercial Bank, Daleville, Indiana, of $3,500 on July 17, 1933;
- Montpelier National Bank, Montpelier, Indiana, of $6,700 on August 4, 1933;
- Bluffton Bank, Bluffton, Ohio, of $6,000 on August 14, 1933;
- Massachusetts Avenue State Bank, Indianapolis, Indiana, of $21,000 on September 6, 1933;
- After Dillinger was broken out of Lima
- After escaping Crown Point
- Securities National Bank And Trust Co., Sioux Falls, South Dakota, of $49,500 on March 6, 1934;
- First National Bank, Mason City, Iowa, of $52,000 on March 13, 1934;
- First National Bank, Fostoria, Ohio, of $17,000 on May 3, 1934;
- Merchants National Bank, South Bend, Indiana, of $29,890 on June 30, 1934.
To obtain more supplies, the gang attacked the state police arsenals in Auburn and Peru, stealing machine guns, rifles, revolvers, ammunition and bulletproof vests. On October 23, 1933, the gang robbed the Central National Bank & Trust Company in Greencastle, Indiana, making off with $74,802. They then headed to Chicago to hide out.
Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, met John Dillinger in October 1933 and they began a relationship. On November 20, the gang traveled to Racine, Wisconsin and robbed the American Bank and Trust Company, making off with $28,000. On December 14, 1933, CPD Detective William Shanley was killed. The police had been put on high alert and suspected the Dillinger gang of involvement in the robbery of the Unity Trust And Savings Bank of $8,700 the day before. The robbery was eventually determined to have been the work of another outfit. Shanley was following up on a tip that one of the gang's cars was being serviced at a local garage. John "Red" Hamilton showed up at the garage that afternoon. When Shanley approached him, Hamilton pulled a pistol and shot him twice, killing Shanley, then escaped. Shanley's murder led to the Chicago Police Department's establishment of a forty-man "Dillinger Squad."
Dillinger and Frechette, arrived at 901 South Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, December 19, renting a two-story house. A day or two later they were joined by the rest of the gang: Pierpont, Makley, Russell Clark and Opal Long. According to Edwin Utter, the caretaker who occupied the garage apartment at the same address, the four couples kept to themselves and had no outside contacts, as far as he knew, and no one was seen to visit them. The group appeared to Utter to be the gangster type. The gang did mention to him that they were from Chicago. Utter said the group received considerable mail. After the gang left, several letters came addressed to Frank Kirtley (Dillinger), J.C. Davies (Makley), and J.C. Evans (Pierpont) but as the gang left no forwarding addresses, the letters were returned to the postman.
Utter stated there was considerable drinking going on, especially at night. He said the gang stayed at the cottage until about Friday, January 12, leaving at night. This January date would have posed yet another problem for Dillinger's defense team had he gone to trial for O'Malley's killing.
Trouble in East Chicago
While Makley, Clark, and Pierpont extended their vacation by driving west to Tucson, Arizona, Dillinger left Florida on January 12 and met up with Hamilton in Chicago at noon on Monday, January 15, a meeting that had been arranged between the two men while Dillinger was in Daytona Beach. Later that afternoon they robbed the First National Bank in East Chicago. East Chicago marked the first time serious violence occurred at a Dillinger robbery, a trend that would continue through South Bend, the last job. Killed by Dillinger was East Chicago patrolman William Patrick O'Malley, the outlaw's first and only murder victim. At approximately 2:50 p.m., 10 minutes before closing time, Dillinger and Hamilton, and an unidentified driver, pulled up in front of the bank on Chicago Avenue on the wrong side of the street, facing east in the westbound lane, double parked, and exited the vehicle, leaving the driver to wait in the idling car. Hamilton waited in the bank's vestibule, while Dillinger entered the main room of the bank. Once inside, Dillinger leisurely opened up a leather case containing a Thompson, pulled it out, and yelled to the 20 to 30 people in the bank, "This is a stickup. Put up your l and get back against the wall." The bank's vice president, Walter Spencer, while hiding, kicked a button which touched off the burglar alarm. Dillinger then went to the door of the vestibule and told Hamilton to come in. Hamilton produced a small leather bag and began scooping up the cash cage by cage. Dillinger told him, "Take your time. We're in no hurry."
Meanwhile, the first police contingent arrived on the scene after receiving the alarm at police headquarters. Four officers arrived: Patrick O'Malley, Hobart Wilgus, Pete Whalen, and Julius Schrenko. After a quick look through the windows of the bank, the officers could see a holdup was in progress and that one of the men was carrying a submachine gun. Shrenko ran to a nearby drugstore and called for more backup. While Schrenko was calling headquarters, Wilgus entered the bank by himself, but was soon covered by Dillinger. The outlaw "relieved" him of his pistol, emptied the cartridges, then tossed it back to the officer. Referring to his Thompson, Dillinger told Wilgus, "You oughtn't be afraid of this thing. I ain't even sure it'll shoot." Turning his attention to Hamilton, Dillinger said, "Don't let those coppers outside worry you. Take your time and be sure to get all the dough. We'll take care of them birds on the outside when we get there." Dillinger then discovered the hiding VP, Spencer, and ordered him up against the wall with everyone else. Schrenko's call for backup emptied the station of all but its phone operator. Four more officers arrived: Captains Tim O'Neil and Ed Knight, and Officers Nick Ranich and Lloyd Mulvihill (murdered by Van Meter four months later). These four officers joined the other three in positions on either side of the Chicago Avenue entrance to the bank. Apparently, not one of them noticed the bandit car double parked on the wrong side of the street right outside the bank door, with its driver sitting unconcerned in the seat with the motor running.
Dillinger then ordered Spencer and Wilgus to lead the way out of the bank, acting as shields. The four walked down the sidewalk toward the car. O'Malley, standing about 20 feet from the front door, saw an opening and fired four times at Dillinger, the bullets bouncing off the outlaw's bullet-proof vest. Dillinger pushed Spencer away with the barrel of his Thompson and yelled, "Get over. I'll get that son of a bitch." O'Malley fell, with eight holes in a line across his chest. As Hamilton made his way into the street, he was observed to take a round in his right hand. He dropped his pistol in the gutter. The bloody pistol was soon recovered by the police. Hamilton had emptied the entire magazine before dropping it. Dillinger kept firing until he climbed into the rear seat of the car. Two game wardens who had driven up to the scene emptied their guns into the car as it started to pull away. The car actually started to pull away before Hamilton had closed the left rear door, and the door was partly torn off as it caught on the rear of another vehicle. The same Ohio plates used at the Greencastle heist were used on the East Chicago getaway car. Police believed the car "may have been a Plymouth," but was actually a 1934 Ford Tudor Sedan. The abandoned car was found the following day at Byron Street and California Avenue, Chicago.
Every officer, as well as numerous witnesses inside the bank, identified Dillinger as being one of the robbers—and the shooter. Prints were taken of the piece Hamilton left behind, which ID'd him. Dillinger was officially charged with Officer O'Malley's murder, although the identity of the actual killer is debatable, and it is still questioned by some whether Dillinger participated in the robbery at all.:154
As police began closing in again, the men left Chicago to hide out first in Florida; later at the Gardner Hotel in El Paso, Texas, where a highly visible police presence dissuaded Dillinger from trying to cross the border at the Santa Fe Bridge in downtown El Paso to Ciudad Juárez, Mexico; and finally in Tucson, Arizona.
On the run
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On Sunday, January 21, 1934, a fire broke out at the Hotel Congress in Tucson where members of the Dillinger gang were staying. Forced to leave their luggage behind, they were rescued through a window and down a fire truck ladder. Makley and Clark tipped a couple of firemen $12 (each, according to a bureau report) to climb back up and retrieve the luggage, affording the firefighters a good look at several members of Dillinger's gang. One of them, William Benedict, later recognized Makley, Pierpont, and Ed Shouse while thumbing through a copy of True Detective and informed the police, who traced Makley's luggage to 927 North Second Avenue. Officers from the Tucson Police Department went to the address on the afternoon of Thursday, January 25, and there arrested Clark after a struggle. They found him in possession of $1,264.70 in cash.
Makley was then followed to the Grabbe Electric & Radio Store on Congress Street, where he was looking at a radio capable of picking up police calls, and was apprehended there. He had $794.09 of cash in his possession.
To capture Pierpont, the police staged a routine traffic stop and lured him to the police station, where they took him by surprise and arrested him. There was $99.81 recovered in Pierpont's personal effects and $3,116.20 on Mary Kinder.
Dillinger was the last one taken, caught when he returned to the bungalow where Clark was captured. He had $7,175.44 in his possession, including notes from his robbery of the First National Bank in East Chicago, A000919 through A001107. These amounts, along with a leather money bag found, totaled over $25,000 in cash, as well as a cache of machine guns and several automatic weapons. The men were extradited to the Midwest after a debate between prosecutors as to where the gang would be prosecuted first. The governor compromised, and ordered that Dillinger would be extradited to the Lake County Jail in Crown Point for Officer O'Malley's murder in the East Chicago bank robbery, while Pierpont, Makley and Clark were sent to Ohio to stand trial for Sheriff Sarber's murder. Shouse's testimony at the March 1934 trials of Pierpont, Makley and Clark led to all three men being convicted. Pierpont and Makley received the death penalty, while Clark received a life sentence. On September 22, Makley would be shot dead by guards when he and Pierpont attempted to escape with fake pistols that were carved from bars of soap and painted black with shoe polish. Pierpont was wounded, and executed on October 17. Clark would ultimately be released in 1968, dying of cancer a few months later.
Dillinger's flight itinerary from Douglas Airport, Tucson, to Midway Airport, Chicago: with Lake County Chief Deputy Carroll Holley (Sheriff Lillian Holley's nephew), and East Chicago Chief of Police Nick Makar escorting the outlaw, the plane departed Tucson at 11:14 p.m. on Monday, January 29. After stops in Douglas, AZ (plane change), El Paso, Abilene, Dallas (another plane change), Fort Worth, Little Rock and Memphis (another plane change, a Ford Tri-Motor), there was yet another stop in St. Louis, where Chicago Times reporter/photographer Sol Davis boarded the aircraft and was obliged by Dillinger to take a few photos and ask some questions. After a while, growing weary of the questions and being photographed, the outlaw told Davis, "Go away and let me sleep." Dillinger's brutal flight schedule ended at about six p.m. January 30 when the plane finally touched down at Midway. Waiting for him on the ground were 32 heavily armed Chicago policemen. A 13-car caravan consisting of 29 troopers from Indiana was ready to escort Dillinger to Crown Point, 30 miles away, to be tried for the O'Malley killing.
Escape from Crown Point
The police boasted to area newspapers that the Crown Point jail was escape-proof and posted extra guards to make sure. What happened on the day of Dillinger's escape on March 3 is still open to debate. Deputy Ernest Blunk claimed that Dillinger had escaped using a real pistol, but FBI files make clear that Dillinger carved a fake pistol from a piece of wood. Sam Cahoon, a trustee that Dillinger first took hostage in the jail, believed that Dillinger had carved the gun with a razor and some shelving in his cell. However, according to an unpublished interview with Dillinger's attorney, Louis Piquett and his investigator, Art O'Leary, it was later revealed that O'Leary claimed to have sneaked the gun in himself.
The death of Youngblood
On Friday, March 16, Youngblood, Dillinger's fellow Crown Point escapee, died from multiple gunshot wounds in a gun battle with three police officers in Port Huron, Michigan. Deputy Sheriff Charles Cavanaugh was also mortally wounded in the battle and died a few hours later. Before he died, Youngblood had told the officers that Dillinger was in the neighborhood of Port Huron and immediately officers began a search for the escaped man, but no trace of him was found. It is said that later Youngblood retracted the story and said he did not know where Dillinger was at that time as he had parted with him soon after their escape from the Crown Point jail.
Dillinger was indicted by a local grand jury, and the BOI organized a nationwide manhunt for him. After escaping from Crown Point, Dillinger reunited with his girlfriend, Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, just hours after his escape at her half-sister Patsy's Chicago apartment, where she was also staying (3512 North Halsted). According to Billie's trial testimony, Dillinger stayed with her there for "almost two weeks," but the two actually had traveled to the Twin Cities and moved into the Santa Monica Apartments, Unit 106, 3252 South Girard Avenue, Minneapolis, on March 4 (moving out Monday, March 19) and met up with Hamilton (who had been recovering for the past month from his gunshot wounds in the East Chicago robbery), and mustered a new gang, and the two joined Baby Face Nelson's gang, composed of Homer Van Meter, Tommy Carroll and Eddie Green.
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, robbery
Three days after Dillinger's escape, Tuesday, March 6, at about 9:45 a.m., a green 1934 Packard Super 8, 1934 Kansas license 13-786, filled with six men parked near the curb at the Security National Bank and Trust Company. Mary Lucas, bookkeeper for the bank, was applying some lipstick when she looked out the window and saw the big green Packard roll up the street. "If I ever saw a holdup car, that's one," she said to a bank stenographer next to her. The stenographer laughed, saying that she'd been hearing too much lately about bank robberies. Before they could get back to their desks, Dillinger, Nelson, Green and Van Meter "were in the bank lobby, cursing and yelling for the money." Hamilton, the driver, stayed with the car, while Tommy Carroll patroled outside the bank with a Thompson. Inside, Nelson spotted motorcycle patrolman Hale Keith who was approaching the bank on foot. He fired his Thompson at Keith through a plate glass window while standing on an assistant cashier's counter. Keith was hit in the abdomen, in the right leg, about six inches below the hip, the right wrist, and the right arm, just below the elbow but would survive. Nelson was reported to have laughed when Keith fell, then saying, "I got one. I got one."
H.M. Shoebotham, a reporter for the Daily Argus-Leader, happened to be in the office of Sheriff Mel Sells when the phone rang. Shoebotham: "His eyes bulged. 'What? They're robbing the Security bank,' he shouted. Mel grabbed a machine gun and a riot gun, handing the riot gun to me, of all people. We climbed into his coupe and headed for the robbery scene, three blocks away. On the way to the bank, Mel figured his strategy. Across from the bank stood the Lincoln Hotel. He planned to reach a second floor window, stick his gun out and let the bandits have it. When we reached the bank, scores of spectators were watching the bizarre spectacle. In the center of the street in front of the bank stood one of the bandits (Carroll) with a machine gun. Now and then he would fire a few volleys to keep the people impressed (There exists a photograph taken of Tommy Carroll from across the street during the robbery, an "action" photo that is most likely unique to prewar bank robberies). Mel had backed his coupe into the alley behind the Lincoln Hotel and had taken the riot gun to the second floor," leaving the Thompson with Shoebotham.
Surrounding themselves with bystanders, the robbers backed out of the bank to the Packard. No officers dared to shoot. The outlaws picked out five people to go with as hostages and commanded them to stand on the running boards. The hostages were Leo Olson, teller; Mildred Bostwick, Alice Biegen, Emma Knabach, stenographers; and Mary Lucas. "They made us stand on the running boards," said Lucas. "They rolled down the windows and held onto our arms." As the Packard sped away from the bank, Patrolman Harley Chrisman got off one rifle round to the hood of the car, hitting the radiator. Lucas: "Someone shot from the street at the car. The bullet hit the radiator. The gangsters cursed. Dillinger told them, 'Keep driving.' They drove fast and it was cold. I had on a suit. The other girls wore dresses. Just out of town we saw two horse-drawn milk wagons, each headed in a different direction. The milkmen stood in the street visiting. The driver swerved the car up over the curb and we went around them without losing speed. Then they slowed down. Dillinger told Olson to get off. 'We don't need you anymore. Get going. You won't be hurt.' They made us girls get inside the car. It was crowded with six men, machine guns, cans of extra gas, sacks of money. I don't remember whose lap I sat on, but I was behind the driver. He had the biggest, thickest neck I ever saw."
Bill Conklin of the Wilson service station on South Minnesota Avenue saw the Packard coming down the street with smoke pouring from the hood and assumed the car was on fire. He ran into the station, grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran back out. "Get back in there" was the response from the car as they had slowed up for him. Conklin said that he noticed the hood, radiator and spare tire were punctured with bullet holes. The car had begun to slow down right outside of town, giving three pursuing police cars time to catch up. Two miles outside of the "Lakeland farm" the gang got out of the Packard and made the hostages stand around them, then opened fire on their pursuers. The three squad cars retreated. The gang hijacked a farmer's car and transferred the gas cans and money into it.
Meanwhile, the sheriff and Shoebotham had gotten back in the sheriff's coupe and were following the Packard. Shoebotham: "We drove south on Main, swung over on Minnesota Avenue, and Mel spotted the exhaust smoke of the bandit car. A few blocks farther on Minnesota Avenue, Sells climbed into a car driven by Deputy Sheriff Lawrence Green, leaving me with the sheriff's coupe. A few blocks south of 26th Street on Minnesota Avenue, the bandits tossed out the first of a long trail of roofing nails to block pursuit. I drove slowly until I reached the abandoned green Packard holdup car, which was left parked across the highway, serving as a makeshift roadblock. Speeding south in a car hijacked from farmer Alfred Muesche, the bandits swung east on a country road and there was a second fusillade from the bandit machine. They continued with machine-gun blasts as they sped away. Along Highway 77 at various spots stood crippled cars, their tires flattened by the bandits' roofing nails."
Lucas: "About 10 miles outside of Sioux Falls, Dillinger said, 'Start walking. Not running. You'll be all right.' They drove off. We started to walk. It was bitterly cold. Then a car came along and stopped. We told the driver our story. He rushed us back to the bank. Some of the bank officers' raccoon coats were hanging on a rack in an office. They wrapped us up in them and gave us a drink."
Police cars and two airplanes scoured the highways in a 50-mile segment of territory south and east of Sioux Falls. The bandits were believed to have ditched Muesche's Dodge for "a big Lincoln" about two or three miles northwest of Shindler. From St. Paul came the assurance that 20 police cars were patrolling all roads heading into St. Paul and Minneapolis but the gang made it safely back to the Twin Cities and began preparing for the Mason City heist.
Mason City, Iowa, robbery
Seven days later, on Tuesday, March 13, at 2:40 p.m., the same six (Dillinger, Nelson, Hamilton, Green, Van Meter, and Carroll), plus an added seventh man as the probable driver, either Joseph Burns or Red Forsythe, drove down State Street in a 1933 blue Buick 90 series sedan (with the rear window removed) and parked in front of Mulcahy's prescription shop. All sources tell a different story as to who went in the bank and who patrolled outside, but it's nearly certain that Dillinger took a position outside the front entrance, with Nelson on the north side of the street near the alley behind the bank, and at least Hamilton and Green entered the bank, with probably Van Meter. From descriptions by witnesses later, Tommy Carroll was also positioned outside. Carroll stood in the doorway of the prescription shop on State.
Freelance photographer H.C. Kunkleman happened to be filming the bank when the robbery began. Kunkleman was told by one of the bandits to turn the camera off, that they would be the ones doing all the shooting. He began filming again once the gang made their getaway (the five-minute film still exists). Green and Hamilton (and probably Van Meter) entered the bank shouting profanities and firing their weapons into the walls and ceiling. Thirty-one employees and approximately 25 customers were ordered to put their hands up. Tom Walters, a bank guard positioned in an elevated bulletproof observation booth near the front entrance, fired a teargas cartridge, according to procedure, which hit one of the bandits in the back. Walters' teargas gun then jammed. One of the robbers sprayed the booth with machine-gun fire, which shattered the glass, but left Walters unharmed. Tom Barclay, a clerk, threw a teargas bomb over the balcony of the lobby. While the tellers' cash drawers were being emptied (drawers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7, missing 5, about $5,000), Hamilton grabbed assistant cashier Harry Fisher and brought him back to open the vault. About a week earlier, Eddie Green (most likely) had appeared at Fisher's door asking for directions, then peered attentively at Fisher's face, something Fisher would later remember. Directions for alternate routes for the getaway were also mapped out at this time.
Once they got to the vault, Hamilton erred by allowing a steel gate to close and lock between him and Fisher. Fisher now could only hand stacks of $5 bills to Hamilton through the bars, greatly reducing the gang's take from $250,000 to $52,000. During the robbery, Green would periodically yell out the time to the others.
Meanwhile, crowds began to form outside after word had spread that a robbery was in progress at the bank. James Buchanan, an off-duty officer, who had grabbed a sawed-off shotgun when he heard about the robbery, hid behind the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) monument. Unable to fire because of the crowd of people, he instead exchanged barbs with Dillinger. "Come out from behind there, you so-and-so," barked Dillinger, who witnesses said was sharply dressed in a light gray suit, dark overcoat and dark hat (the only robber whose clothing was described). Buchanan called back for him to get away from the crowd and he would fight it out with him. Buchanan said that Dillinger's upper lip turned into a snarl as he talked. Dillinger, armed with a Thompson, drew a .38 from an inside pocket and fired at Buchanan, but never hit him. Witnesses said of Dillinger, "He had bullets pinned on his vest and he reloaded his automatic while he was in front of the bank."
Outside the bank, Nelson "acted crazy," spectators of the event reported. "He interspersed his sprays of shots with outbursts of laughter, keeping, however, a sharp lookout in all directions." He was reported to have "sent shots straight down the street, puncturing tires and cutting holes in other parts of automobiles." R.L. James was walking up to the corner of State and Federal when he heard the gunfire. He turned around and headed back down State. Nelson ordered him to stop, but James didn't hear him. Nelson's blast from his Thompson struck him twice in the right leg, and he dropped to the sidewalk. Tommy Carroll came over to check on James' condition. An oncoming car came and Carroll blasted it with his machine gun. "The radiator of the car was filled with lead and the frantic driver backed out at the rate of 25 mph." From his third-floor office above the bank, police judge John C. Shipley heard the gunfire and went to the window. Dillinger sent a volley of shots in Shipley's direction, warning him to stay back. The judge retreated, but went to his desk and grabbed a pistol, then returned to the window and fired at Dillinger, wounding the outlaw in the left shoulder. Hamilton, Green and Van Meter, with a large canvas bag of cash, left through the front door of the bank, surrounding themselves with hostages that Dillinger had collected. The entire gang moved as one around the corner onto State Street, with Dillinger in the center of the group. Judge Shipley, again, was at a window from above the bank and risked firing into the group, this time striking Hamilton in the shoulder. When Hamilton saw R.L. James lying on the street wounded, he said, "I thought there wasn't going to be any more of this?" Nelson, who had now joined them, said, "I thought he was a copper." Mrs. William Clark and Mrs. Frank Graham had just come out of a butcher shop and were at the intersection of State Street and the alley directly east of the bank when Nelson stopped them, along with an elderly woman who was near, and marshalled them to the car and commanded them to stand outside of it. Before they reached the car, Nelson snatched the package of meat from Mrs. Clark's hands, threw it to the ground and stomped on it, silencing her protests with, "You'll get paid plenty for it."
The number of hostages varies wildly in Dillinger books, but the Mason City Globe-Gazette from that day names 11 people. A couple women sat inside the car on the laps of the outlaws. Bill Schmidt, an employee of Killmer Drug, was delivering a bag of sandwiches to the bank and was stopped by Dillinger and also shoved into the Buick. While riding through town, the bag of sandwiches was discovered and they were quickly eaten by the gang. The Buick slowly moved north on Federal Avenue to 2nd Street, taking a left, headed west to Adams, taking another left. The car stayed at about 25 mph within the downtown area. Near 4th Street, Clarence MGowan, along with his wife and five-year-old daughter, spotted the car. McGowan began to pursue the bandit car after mistakenly believing the vehicle, loaded with people on the outside of the car, to be part of a wedding or "some kind of wild demonstration." He was shot in the abdomen after pulling up too close to the Buick. McGowan went home and bathed before going to the hospital. Both McGowan and R.L. James, Nelson's casualty, recovered.
The Buick stopped from time to time so that roofing nails could be spread across the highway, "sacks full of them." Oncoming cars were stopped by the gang and were ordered to stay where they were for five minutes before moving on. Bill Schmidt: "The bandits would drive fairly fast on the straight away, but slowed down for the bumps." The hostages were let off a few at a time and individually. Mrs. Clark (carrying the meat earlier) and Mrs. Graham were the last two hostages to be released, at a point three and a half miles south and a mile and a half east of Mason City. Asked if she'd be able to identify any of the men, Mrs. Clark said, "I sure would; especially the one who winked at me." The Buick was found in a gravel pit about four miles south of the city later that evening. According to police, two cars had been waiting for the gang, with one driver in each vehicle.
Once the gang made it back to St. Paul, Green showed up at Pat Reilly's, 27-year-old fringe gang member, husband and father, and also bartender at St. Paul's Green Lantern, asking him if he knew where Dr. (Nels) Mortensen's home in St. Paul was, and requested that he accompany him to see the doctor. Reilly later stated to agents that at that time Eddie Green was driving a Hudson and that Dillinger and Hamilton were in the back seat; that both individuals had gunshot wounds in the shoulders and that Dillinger appeared to be nauseated and slightly dizzy. All four proceeded to Mortensen's home at 2252 Fairmount Avenue in St. Paul, arriving just after midnight. Mortensen answered the call in this night clothes. He examined both men, probing the wounds. Reilly said that during this time Dillinger was "quite ill and wobbly or faint" and had to sit down on the couch. Mortensen told them the wounds weren't serious and that he didn't have his medical bag there. He asked them if they had any liquor. They replied in the affirmative. He instructed them to go home and take a stiff drink and to return to his office the next day. They didn't appear. The four returned to Green's car and drove to the intersection of Snelling and Selby, where Green gave Reilly a $5 bill and let him out of the car. Reilly said he hailed a Blue and White taxi and then returned home.
Eddie Green was later questioned by the FBI, and gave the names of the two doctors to them while in a critical state in the hospital.
Proceeding the events of the Mason City, Iowa robbery, John Dillinger and his crew reached for safety at Little Bohemia Lodge, located in northern Wisconsin. The owner of the lodge grew suspicious after seeing the behavior of the group of men, and tipped the FBI. Three FBI agents positioned themselves about the cabin, and waited. Eventually, the agents opened fire on the lodge towards the gangsters, and Dillinger and his crew decided to flee through the woods after returning fire briefly. They escaped, and with no casualties.
Shootout at the Lincoln Court Apartments
Dillinger and Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, moved into apartment 303 of the Lincoln Court Apartments, 93-95 South Lexington Avenue (now Lexington Parkway South) in St. Paul on Tuesday, March 20. The three-story apartment complex (still in operation), built in 1921, has 32 apartments, 10 units on each floor, and two basement units. Dillinger walked across the street to the east side of Lexington Avenue at about 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 24, to talk to the paperboy, Raymond Cutting, 17, who was busy delivering papers. The outlaw requested delivery of the morning paper, the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the evening edition, the Dispatch, to begin the next day for apartment 303. The following is an excerpt from Cutting's direct examination at Frechette's trial. The questioner is George Sullivan, Assistant U.S. District Attorney, on behalf of the Government:
Q. And was anything said about the cost of the paper?
A. Well, he offered me some money, but it was a dollar bill. I did not have any change for it, so I told him that we were supposed to collect at the end of the month, so I would come around then.
Q. And what did he say or how did he respond to that?
A. Well, he responded with a very peculiar smile.
Cutting said he delivered the first paper the next day, March 25, at about 5.30 a.m. He said he went to the apartment on Wednesday, the 28th, to find out the name of the subscribers. Billie answered the knock, only opening the door about five inches, and gave the name "J. Hellman" to the boy, then closed the door. Cutting had no further contact with either occupant again.
Daisy Coffey, the landlord/owner testified at Frechette's trial that she spent most evenings during the Hellmans' stay furnishing apartment 310, which just happened to be perfectly situated for her to observe what was happening in apartment 303 directly across the courtyard. She was curious enough to take a peek the first night the new tenants moved in, March 20, when the lights were on "and the people were moving about." The shades were usually drawn, but she did catch glimpses. She said she saw "Mrs. Hellman," Billie, washing and wiping dishes at various times. On March 26 Coffey was standing just outside of apartment 304, across the hall from 303, when Mrs. Hellman came up the rear stairs carrying groceries, accompanied by a man. The question of what the man looked like was never asked in court. On the morning of the escape, Coffey stated she saw two women leave the building shortly after 10 a.m., one with red hair (Opal Long), and the other -- "I don't know about the color. It looked to have been almost every color" (Pat Cherrington).
With Daisy Coffey becoming more and more suspicious of the goings-on in the apartment, on Friday, March 30, she alerted Werner Hanni, Special Agent in charge of the St. Paul office, of the suspicious behavior of her new tenants, Mr. and Mrs. Carl T. Hellman, including information about the couple's new Hudson sedan parked in the garage behind the apartments. The building was placed under surveillance by two agents, Rufus Coulter and Rosser Nalls, that night, but they failed to observe anything unusual, mainly due to drawn blinds. The next morning at approximately 10:15, Nalls circled around the block looking for the Hudson, but observed nothing. He parked on Lincoln (the north side of the apartments), and about two minutes later he saw two women (Cherrington and Long) walking down Lexington, in front of the apartments, and turn onto Lincoln. At the same time, a Ford sedan bearing 1934 Minnesota license B-419975 (Hamilton) turned off of Lexington onto Lincoln, proceeding on the wrong side of the street, stopped and picked up the two women and drove away. Following this, for a better view of the front of the apartment building, Nalls moved his car and parked on the west side of Lexington, at the northwest corner of Lexington and Lincoln, and remained in his car while watching Coulter and Henry Cummings, a St. Paul PD detective, pull up about the same time to the front of the complex, park, and enter the building. Ten minutes later, Nalls estimated, he noticed a man (Van Meter) driving a green Ford coupe crossing the intersection of Lexington and Lincoln and parking the Ford on the north side of the apartment building, on Lincoln. Meanwhile, Coulter and Cummings were at apartment 303, knocking on the door. Frechette answered, opening the door two to three inches. She said she wasn't dressed and to come back. Coulter told her they would wait. After waiting two to three minutes, Coulter went to the basement apartment of the caretakers, Louis and Margaret Meidlinger, and asked to use the phone to call the bureau. He quickly returned to Cummings, and the two of them proceeded to pace up and down the hall outside of Apt. 303 while waiting for Frechette to open the door. Van Meter then appeared in the hall and asked Coulter if his name was Johnson. Coulter said it was not, and as Van Meter passed on to the landing of the third floor, Coulter asked him who he was. Van Meter replied, "I am a soap salesman." Asked where his samples were, Van Meter said they were in his car. Coulter asked if he had any credentials. Van Meter said "no," and continued to walk down the stairs. Coulter waited 10 to 20 seconds and then followed the man. As he got to the lobby of the ground floor, he saw the man standing behind him, against the wall, who began to use profane language and drew an automatic pistol. From outside, Nalls heard shots fired and then saw Coulter run around the corner of the building with a man running after him. Shots were exchanged. Van Meter stopped and ran back into the front entrance.
Realizing it was the same man who had parked the Ford coupe on the side of the building near his own car, Nalls pointed out the Ford to Coulter and told him to disable it. Coulter fired one shot to the rear left tire. While Coulter stayed with Van Meter's Ford, Nalls went to the corner drugstore and first called the local police, asking to send all available cars, then called the bureau's St. Paul office, but couldn't get through because both lines were busy. Van Meter made good his escape by going out the back door and hopping on a coal truck that was passing by on a nearby street. When Cummings heard the shooting out front, he just happened to be pacing past 303. The door opened a short distance and Cummings said, "Throw them up." Cummings: "She slammed the door and almost immediately bullets commenced coming through the door, so I stepped down the hallway a little ways. And there is an offset there...I had time to step in there. And I just got in there when bullets starting going by me. I started shooting back at him, and he had a machine gun...and when I shot five shots, I was out. So I made a duck down the stairway, and when I got downstairs I reloaded and came back."  But instead of immediately going back to 303, as he testified, Cummings actually first went down the front stairs and walked out the front entrance. At this time Billie was backing the car out of the garage in the alley, and she and Dillinger were off to Eddie Green's in Minneapolis. Meanwhile, Nalls had returned from the corner drugstore and relieved Coulter, who then met up with Cummings at the front entrance, and together they went back up to 303. Nalls stayed with Van Meter's car. It should be pointed out that Van Meter's car was parked (on Lincoln) exactly in line with the rear alley of the apartment building, giving a perfect view of the rear door, the door Dillinger and Frechette exited, not to mention Van Meter. This fact was never brought up at any time during the Frechette/May trial and, more importantly, neither Nalls nor Coulter were questioned about it.
In Frechette's words from her harboring trial testimony: "So I went back to get dressed, and Mr. Dillinger said, 'Who are they?' and I said, 'A couple of policemen,' and he said, 'Well, don't let them in.' He said, 'Come in and get dressed.' So I started getting dressed, and I kept asking him, 'What are we going to do?' He said, 'Never mind.' So he was getting dressed, and so was I. He got a grip (suitcase) out and started packing, and told me to throw a few of my things in it, so I did. And just about that time I think there were shots outside, and I went over to the window and I didn't see anything. So Mr. Dillinger was getting his coat on and things at the time...I was still getting the grip all ready. I was in the back bedroom getting this grip ready, and he started shooting out through the front door of the apartment. I went running out there, and I said, 'My God, don't shoot.' I said, 'Try and get out of here, but don't shoot. You can leave me here.'" When interviewed in prison sometime during the summer of '34, pre-July 22, Frechette had said, "Suddenly, I heard a burst of machine gun fire in the parlor. I rushed to the room and there stood John, the smoking weapon in his hands. A burst of bullets had cut a weird pattern in the front door. He said, "Get that suitcase and follow me." I did as he commanded, but the suitcase was heavier than I thought. John kept a gun and other effects packed in it for emergencies at all times. John walked to the door and snapped back the bolt. He flung the door open wide and stepped into the hall. As he did so, he sent another burst of machine-gun fire along the hall toward the front of the building. A man, barricaded someplace there, returned the fire. John motioned me to pass behind him and start down the hall. He covered my retreat, coming back behind me. We reached the stairs and hurried down, the heavy case almost pulling my arms from their sockets. John kept the machine gun ready, playing it back and forth in all directions as he looked for would-be assailants." Agent Murray Falkner interviewed Frechette in Chicago on April 10, where she shed some light on Dillinger firing the Thompson down the hallway. From Falkner's direct examination at Billie's trial: "She said she had gotten some things in a bag, and he told her to follow him. He got to the door and turned the machine gun down the hall and fired a short burst in that direction, and then turned the machine gun the other way and fired a burst there." Dillinger shot up five doors (with possible help from Cummings) in the apartment building: 303, 304 (across the hall from 303), the service door to 304, and the doors on both ends of the third floor (photographic evidence exists of all but the door to 304 and 304's service door).
Frechette: "As we reached the back door, he handed me the keys to the car, which was parked in a garage a few doors down the alley. 'Get it backed out and I'll be along.' He didn't seem the least concerned or excited. His calmness gave me reassurance and I hurried as fast as I could. The suitcase was too much for me, however, and I had to drop it." Twenty-year-old George Schroth, a student at the College of St. Thomas, watched the escape from one of the four windows facing west on the second floor of his house located right next door. Schroth testified at Frechette's trial: "I saw a woman, a dark-haired woman, dressed in dark clothes coming out behind the apartment. She was running. She was carrying a very large black suitcase. As soon as she got to about the middle of the alley, she started to stumble or slip, as though the suitcase was very heavy. She was facing south. She turned towards the east and looked back, to the north, behind the apartment. At this point a man came out from behind the apartment, dressed in gray clothes. He was carrying a machine gun. He was not running, however. He was merely walking. Then when he came out, this woman picked up the suitcase and started running west in the alley. The man, however, merely took his time and walked up the alley very casually, always keeping a good look behind him as though covering his retreat." During the exchange of gunfire with Cummings, Dillinger was hit in the left calf by one of Cummings' five shots and was now dripping blood in the snow.
When Frechette finally made it to the garage, she started the Hudson and backed it out, facing east. By that time Dillinger had arrived and said, "No, not that way. Back it out the other way." She did so, and when the car was backed out and in the correct position (west), Dillinger got in the back seat and began directing her where to go.
The temperature that morning in St. Paul was 30 degrees, but it was much colder, 18 degrees, at six a.m. Cars were not always reliable starting in cold weather during this era. The Hudson had a six-volt system, giving it a very low cranking power, and the car almost certainly had no heater or defroster. The cold tires were extremely hard to maneuver, and the recent snowfall the city had would have made the skinny tires tricky to drive on without chains. At five-foot-three, Billie would also have had a difficult time with the clutch and brake, with automatic transmission not becoming available for another five years, disc brakes another 14, and power steering another 16.
They drove to Eddie Green's apartment at 3300 South Fremont. Frechette parked the car out front and went inside and told Green, "Johnnie wants you down in the car, Eddie. He's hurt." Green went down and had a conversation with Dillinger for approximately five minutes, then came back up and told Frechette to stay with Dillinger and drive him around for awhile, and to come back in 30 minutes. Green then called Dr. Clayton E. May at his office in Minneapolis, 712 Masonic Temple (still extant), and asked if the doctor was going to be in. May replied in the affirmative. Green showed up minutes later. His wife, Beth, stayed in the car. May testified at his harboring trial that Green asked him to come to his apartment on Fremont to see a friend of his who was injured in a still explosion. After some time, May agreed to go with Green. They returned to Green's Fremont address, stopping first to drop Green's wife off, then proceeded to drive across the alley and stopping between Fremont and Girard, where Green then told May to get out of the car. They both exited the vehicle. Green walked across the street to the black Hudson, with Dillinger in the back seat. They exchanged words for a moment, then Green motioned for May to come over. Green opened the front driver's door and told May to get in, that he would be driving. May was asked on direct examination to describe the man (Dillinger) he saw in the back seat: "He was seated in the back seat, on the right side. He was not sitting up straight. He was sitting at an angle. He had one foot up like this, and the left foot down. His right foot was up on something. I couldn't see what it was. He was slumped down in the car, in the corner like that, way down like that. He had on a top coat and he had something underneath it like a sweater, that was pulled high over the back of his head. He appeared very bulky in the upper part of his body. And he was very pale." May said he could also see the barrel of Dillinger's machine gun and part of the drum. With Eddie, Beth and Billie following in Green's car, Dr. May drove Dillinger to 1835 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, to the ground floor three-bedroom apartment of Mrs. Augusta Salt, who'd been providing nursing services and a bed for May's illicit patients for several years, patients he couldn't risk seeing at his regular office. Once they got inside, May said he told Dillinger to lie on the bed. "He laid down, and he pulled out an automatic, out of the left side of his belt, and when he laid down he put it under the left side of his body, under the quilts." May testified that he first examined Dillinger by taking scissors and cutting the trouser leg and the leg of the underwear up to the place where he found the wound. May was asked to describe the wound, which he said was "in the upper third of the lower left leg." May: "It was an in and out wound, about four inches apart. It did not bleed an awful lot, although it trickled down his leg, but the blood was dry. I treated it, antiseptically, by inserting a probe in and out, with two different antiseptics." May said that Dillinger also requested that the doctor "bring back some serum" later that evening "so I will not get lock-jaw." Nurse Salt testified that Dillinger was moved to a different bedroom the next day, Sunday, at about three p.m. at his request. He'd asked for a larger bed. Plus, the room was very small and crowded, according to Salt. So he was moved to the back bedroom, which had a full-size bed. Salt said Dillinger had company on Monday, April 2, about seven p.m. Eddie Green stopped by for a visit (just hours before he would be mortally wounded in St. Paul). She recalled Green saying to Dillinger, "This is better. Do you want to stay here?" Dillinger said, "No, I would rather be moving." Green then said, "Have you got plenty of jack?" And Dillinger said, "Yes," and then they both smiled. Dillinger's convalescence at Dr. May's lasted five days, until Wednesday, April 4, a week before Eddie Green died from wounds received on April 3. Dr. May was promised $500 for his services, but he received nothing.
A family reunion and picnic back on the farm
After leaving Minneapolis, Dillinger and Frechette traveled to Mooresville to visit Dillinger's father, arriving either the late evening of April 5 or the early morning of April 6. The two entered the home of his father via the fields to the rear of the house. Dillinger later obtained his Hudson and concealed it in the barn. The two spent the balance of the night at the house. Friday, April 6 was spent at the farm in an effort to contact members of the family, particularly Hubert. Once Hubert was reached, Dillinger and Hubert painted the wheels of the Hudson and also painted over the stripe on the vehicle, the same Hudson Deluxe sedan Dillinger had purchased in St. Paul, and for which was issued Minnesota license plates B-420930 (which were later recovered at Little Bohemia). While in Mooresville the car had Tennessee tags. On April 6, Hubert and Dillinger left Mooresville at about eight p.m. and proceeded to Leipsic, Ohio (approx. 210 miles from Mooresville), where they called on Joseph and Lena Pierpont, Harry's parents. Hubert waited in the car for 15 minutes while Dillinger was at the door. The Pierponts weren't home. The two left Leipsic around midnight and started heading back to Mooresville.
On Saturday, April 7, at approximately 3:30 a.m. near Noblesville, Indiana, about 23 miles north of Indianapolis, Dillinger and his half-brother Hubert rammed the Hudson into a Model A driven by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Manning of Peru, Indiana, after Hubert had fallen asleep behind the wheel. They crashed through a farm fence and traveled about 200 feet into the woods. The Mannings told police that one man started walking in the direction of Indianapolis while the other "went through a wooded section along the road." Dillinger also grabbed the Thompson from the car and removed the license plates. Both the outlaw and his brother safely made it back to the Mooresville farm. Swarms of police showed up at the accident scene within a couple of hours, including Matt Leach, who was quoted as saying how lucky Dillinger was, as not a single tree had been hit by the car during its ride through the woods. Found in the car were maps, a machine gun clip, a length of rope, and a bullwhip. According to Hubert, his brother planned to pay a visit with the bullwhip to his former one-armed "shyster" lawyer at Crown Point, Joseph Ryan, who had run off with his retainer after being replaced by Louis Piquett. From a report in the Dillinger File: "In connection with the Hudson Deluxe Sedan, 4-7-34, on Highway 31, north of Noblesville, Ind., after it had been wrecked by John Dillinger and Hubert Dillinger at this point, it is indicated that the sheriff (Frank Hattery) is now offering the car for sale and the returns from same will be turned in to the state after any liens against it have been satisfied. An examination of the car by Agent Bears at Noblesville disclosed that it had been painted over, i.e., the cream-colored stripes were painted black and the shield on the front of the radiator had been painted black."
Also on Saturday morning, April 7, at about 10:30, while Hubert and Dillinger were making their way back to the farm from Noblesville, or were possibly back home in bed after their misadventure, Billie, Hubert and Hubert's wife contacted Albin Dorsey, salesman at the Frank Hatfield Motor Company, 625 Capitol Avenue, Indianapolis, and arranged for the purchase of a four-door Ford V8, black, motor No. 751635, registering it in the name of Mrs. Fred Penfield (Billie Frechette), 409 North LaSalle, Indianapolis (Fred Hancock, Dillinger's nephew's address). Also issued at this time was license No. 83689 (later found at Little Bohemia). At 2:30 p.m., Billie and Hubert went to pick up the V8, then returned to Mooresville.
On Sunday, April 8, the Dillingers enjoyed a family picnic, including a photo session, all the while the FBI had the farm under surveillance nearby. Dillinger's favorites were served: fried chicken and "everything that goes with it," along with coconut cream pie. Audrey Hancock, Dillinger's sister: "I cooked dinner down there. My half-brother come and told us somebody at Pop's wanted to see us. I knew pretty well who it was and went right away. All the family was there. There must have been a dozen of us." Fred Hancock later claimed to agents that he didn't have much conversation this afternoon with John because he was busy flying a kite in the yard. At some point during the afternoon, someone (probably Emmett, Audrey's husband, or Hubert) drove Audrey into Mooresville, where she bought adhesive tape and Mecurochrome to redress Dillinger's bullet wound.
Present at the farm this day along with Dillinger and Billie:
- John W. Dillinger, 69, father
- Audrey Hancock, 45, sister
- Emmett Hancock, 50, husband of Audrey
- Mary Hancock, 18, daughter of Audrey
- Alberta Hancock, 14, daughter of Audrey
- Fred Hancock, 26, son of Audrey
- Norman Hancock, 21, son of Audrey
- Hubert Dillinger, 20, half-brother of John's
- Doris Dillinger, 15, half-sister of John's
- Frances Dillinger, 11, half-sister of John's
Later in the afternoon, Audrey Hancock observed, apparently, the automobile of Agents J.L. Geraghty and T.J. Donegan, who were cruising in the vicinity, and also possibly the automobiles of sightseers, and believing that they were officers watching them, and also being disturbed by a National Guard plane that was in practice over the home, they arranged to leave. Plans were made for everyone to meet at the home of Macy Davis in Mars Hill, about 14 miles away. Hubert and Fred, in Hubert's car, proceeded to Mooresville, to the garage of Jess Richardson (who was married to the sister of Dillinger's stepmother) to obtain the new Ford V8, where it was being temporarily stored, and brought the car to the Dillinger farm. During this time Hubert and Fred believed they were being followed by Donegan and Geraghty. In an effort to draw the agents away from the vicinity, Hubert and Norman proceeded to Mooresville in Hubert's car. The agents, when observing this car, noticed that Norman covered his face with his hands and slipped down into the vehicle as if he were avoiding identification. The second car was that of Emmett and Audrey. The third car to leave was the new Ford V8 sedan. Frechette was driving, with Mary in the front seat with her and Alberta in the back. Dillinger was on the floor of the V8, together with his machine gun. Dillinger was observed, but not identified, by Donegan and Geraghty to change from the rear seat to the driver's seat on Route 267, about a quarter mile beyond the entrance to the Dillinger farm. The last car to leave was Fred and his wife (name unspecified). Dillinger, Billie, Mary and Alberta drove to the home of Macy Davis in Mars Hills, as did Emmett and Audrey. Emmett dropped his wife off, then drove to his sister's, Lida Fisher, at 1342 Blaine Avenue, Indianapolis, to bring her to Davis' in order that she could also see Dillinger.
As directed by Dillinger, Hubert drove to Mary Kinder's house at 516 North Luett Street in Indianapolis and arranged for Mary and Mr. and Mrs. Pierpont, who had come in from Leipsic, to meet Dillinger at the Davis home. The Pierponts followed Hubert and Kinder back to Mars Hill, the Pierponts driving their Auburn sedan, license No. 175665. Mrs. Macy Davis later told agents that Mary Hancock introduced John to everyone as, "This is Uncle John, the ex-con." After some conversation in the Davis home, Dillinger, Mr. and Mrs. Pierpont, and Mary Hancock rode around in the Pierponts' Auburn, with Dillinger and the Pierponts principally discussing the possibility of getting money for the appeal for Harry in Ohio, followed by Norman and Billie in the Ford V8. When the group got back to Macy Davis' home, Mary Kinder and the Pierponts returned to Mary's residence in Indianapolis, and Norman, driving the V8, proceeded with Dillinger and Billie to Chicago, where they separated from Norman, who then later returned to Indianapolis.
Among the scores of people who were willing to testify about the goings-on the last few days at the Dillinger farm, Mars Hills, Indianapolis, and Noblesville, including Mr. and Mrs. Macy Davis and Mrs. Lida Fisher, Emmett's sister, was Paul Samuels, a draftsman from Indianapolis whose yellow Ford coupe was observed by Agents Geraghty and Donegan in front of the Dillinger farm. He explained to agents that he was out driving in the vicinity of Mooresville on April 8 and had stopped in to talk to "old man Dillinger" about how much he was being allowed for the damage done to his orchard caused by the improvements being made on Route 267. He said it was not official business. He told agents that about the time the gathering of people at the farm was getting ready to leave, he walked up to the yard and talked to the old man about the new road, and that while various members of the family were pointed out to him and discussed in conversation, nothing was said as to John himself being at home, nor did he see him at the time the cars departed. "Samuels stated that he did not observe any indications of John's presence at the farm on that day. Samuels stated that he did not at any time observe a new Ford (black) V8 Sedan, and he is quite certain that if it was around the farmyard he would have noticed it. All the cars he observed were old ones, and to the best of his recollection, he can only recall having seen three -- Hubert's Chevrolet coupe, Emmett's Oldsmobile, and Fred Hancock's Whippet. Samuels is very much worried over the possibility of Mr. Al Feeney, Director of Public Safety, hearing of the incident, and he is quite certain that he will lose his job with the state if the fact of his visit to the Dillinger farm on April 8 becomes known, insofar as he has never mentioned it to anybody except for a few close friends."
Fred Hancock on the exchange between Samuels and the senior Dillinger: "When the road commissioner came up to talk with Grandpa, I saw John standing in the kitchen, and he was holding the machine gun in his hands, he having hold of the front grip as if ready to shoot. This was the first time I saw the machine gun, as John was lying on the davenport with a blanket over him, with the gun. The gun had a big round thing on it, and from pictures I had seen, I believed it to be a machine gun. John did not know who this fellow was that was talking to Grandpa."
A few of Emmett Hancock's observations: "I next saw John after church and Sunday school... we stayed until toward evening. I recall my girls were somewhat aroused by the automobiles which were passing the house and an airplane which was flying overhead. I do not remember just what was said as to John leaving. I saw the machine gun he had; at least I believed it was a machine gun from the description, it having a large drum on it, and this was lying on the bed in the front room. I recall the incident where the man drove up into the driveway and turned around and backed out, and John picked up the machine gun and went into the kitchen. John did not say anything except he had a hole through his leg, and I suppose he had gotten this in St. Paul. He stated that this woman was his wife. I did not know any of the arrangements as to how they were to leave. The new car was pulled up around to the side of the house, and I was making my own preparations as to leaving. My two girls and Billie and John went in this new car; however, I did not actually see John in the car, but I was most sure he was in the car. There was no understanding as to Alberta and Mary protecting John in driving out. I realized the danger for the girls and advised my wife that I did not like it a bit, that I would rather they went home with us. The understanding was that they were to catch up to us in their car, and I, together with my wife, drove to the home of Macy Davis, leaving John, Billie, Alberta and Mary at this place, and if I recall, also my wife, and I drove over to get my sister in order that she might see John."
Another witness was Walter Smitherman, who resided on the adjoining farm to that of Dillinger's father. He said that around nine a.m. on April 8 he was in his farmyard standing with M.L. Hobson of Mooresville. He noticed four or five people in the Dillinger farmyard, one of whom strongly resembled John. He had seen Dillinger on several occasions before and had talked with him twice while he was on parole. However, he doubted that this was John, knowing he was wanted at this time. Later in the afternoon, about four p.m., he saw the same party who he thought was Dillinger; that he had light red hair and limped slightly when he walked; that the red hair confused him as to his identification. From the file regarding Smitherman's friend, M.L. Hobson: "Hobson could not positively identify Dillinger, as he only saw the man walk from the house to the 'back house,' (outhouse). What made him think it was Dillinger was because he recognized the droop of the shoulders that was characteristic of Dillinger."
The following is a memo contained in a 14-page report in the FBI Dillinger file concerning several of the principals involved in the events of early April:
"ATTITUDE, BACKGROUND AND PRIOR ASSOCIATION OF PERSONS INDICATED WITH DILLINGER
HUBERT DILLINGER: Hubert has been the member of the family most frequently contacted by John Dillinger in his travels through Indianapolis during the time Dillinger was a fugitive. Hubert is 20 years of age and married. He is employed with Fred Hancock at a filling station at 3301 East New York Street, Indianapolis, and in surveillance of his activities, it is noted that he associates with various girls of loose character, neglecting his wife to do so. He is now driving a Chevrolet coupe, seized from John Dillinger September 26, 1933, and carries a .38 automatic. He has been very active in his efforts to detect whether any agents have been covering the filling station or the home of his father in Mooresville.
FRED HANCOCK: This party also works at the same filling station. He is married, associates with various girls of loose character, neglecting his wife to do so. On July 23, 1934, in a telephone conversation with a girlfriend of Hubert's, in answer to the girl's wish that the double crosser who turned John in would get his, Fred said, "Don't worry. They will." This party also carries a .38 automatic. Conversation as reported by informant A.C. McGinnis indicates that both were desirous of helping Dillinger if they could, which is also indicated in conversations with other friends.
JOHN W. DILLNGER: This party has indicated to newspaper men that he believes Government agents were covering his place and has been alert to detect our cover of his home. On July 20, 1934, at 6:45 p.m. he came out of his house with his shotgun and searched the entire orchard to the north side of his house. Hubert has also been active at the home of his father in an effort to detect whether the agents were covering the place or going upon their property.
NORMAN HANCOCK: Norman has indicated what is believed to be a sincere effort to cooperate with us; same however, being for the purpose of saving his mother, Audrey, from possible prosecution or danger should Dillinger appear at their home.
AUDREY HANCOCK: This woman has indicated in an interview a pleasing, agreeable attitude. This woman reared John for a considerable period subsequent to the death of his mother when John was about two and a half years of age. Since the death of Dillinger, she has been very hostile and accused agents who called at her house of having murdered John like a dog.
J.G. PIERPONT and LENA PIERPONT: These people have been in frequent touch with Hubert Dillinger and John W. Dillinger, and indicated in an article in a newspaper a hostility to the officers who they believed were following them. The family is of a very low social status, having concealed Harry Pierpont, who was living with Mary Kinder, at their home after his escape September 26, 1933 from the Michigan City State Penitentiary. They also concealed other members of the gang at this time up until the murder of Sheriff Jesse Sarber, Lima, Ohio, then living at Leipsic, Ohio. They also aided them after the murder while they were hiding at Hamilton, Ohio.
MARY KINDER: This woman is a low type character. She lived with Pierpont at Leipsic, Ohio, before the murder at Lima, Ohio. She lived with Pierpont at Hamilton, Ohio, after the murder; also in Florida, also at Tucson, Arizona, where Dillinger, Pierpont and others were apprehended in January 1934. Since the confinement of Pierpont on the murder charge, and while supposedly maintaining a loyal attitude towards Pierpont, she has been living a considerable portion of the time with one Carl Walz in Indianapolis.
JESS RICHARDSON: This party is a very tough individual of decided socialistic leanings and freely expresses himself in his opposition to society as now constituted."
The following afternoon, Monday, April 9, Dillinger had an appointment at a tavern located at 416 North State Street. Sensing trouble, Frechette went in first. She was promptly arrested by agents, but refused to reveal Dillinger's whereabouts. Unbeknownst to the agents, Dillinger was waiting in his car outside the tavern and then drove off unnoticed. The two would never see each other again. Dillinger reportedly became despondent after Billie was arrested. The other gang members tried to talk to him out of rescuing her, but Van Meter knew where they could find bulletproof vests. That Friday morning, late at night, Dillinger and Van Meter took Warsaw, Indiana police officer Judd Pittenger hostage. They marched him at gunpoint to the police station, where they stole several more guns and bulletproof vests. After separating, Dillinger picked up Hamilton, who was recovering from the Mason City robbery. The two then traveled to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where they visited Hamilton's sister Anna Steve.
Little Bohemia Lodge
About 1:00 in the afternoon of Friday, April 20, Van Meter, Marie Comforti ("Mickey"), and Pat Reilly were the first to arrive at Little Bohemia Lodge, located 13 miles south of Mercer in northern Wisconsin, in the town of Manitowish Waters. Emil Wanatka, born in Bohemia (in Czech Republic) in 1888 and who opened the resort just four years prior, greeted them. Arriving later, about 5:30, were Dillinger, Hamilton and Cherrington by way of Sault Ste. Marie, then Nelson and wife Helen, who had come in from Chicago, and last to arrive were Tommy Carroll and Jean Delaney. Reilly stated that on that first night he, Carroll, Lester Gillis (Nelson), Dillinger, and Emil Wanatka played "hearts" for several hours and that the game broke up around midnight. He went to the bar to get a drink while the others went to their various rooms. Hamilton and Pat Cherrington occupied the end room on the left side of the upstairs in the lodge, while Van Meter and Comforti occupied the room opposite. Tommy Carroll and Jean Delaney, together with Gillis and Helen, occupied the little cottage on the right of Little Bohemia, near the entrance. Dillinger slept in the first bedroom on the left upstairs in the main lodge. Reilly stated to agents that he was told by Van Meter that Dillinger's room had two beds and that he would be sleeping in the same room with Dillinger.
Reilly stated that as he entered the room, Dillinger was lying on the bed on the left side of the room, reading a detective magazine and with a bottle of whiskey on the stand near the bed; that as he came into the room Dillinger laid his magazine on the table but that no conversation took place between them. He noticed when Dillinger turned over as though to sleep he had a .45 automatic under his pillow. Reilly advised that he then took a drink of whiskey out of the bottle, which was 16-year-old bonded whiskey, the name of which he couldn't recall. He then locked the door and turned out the light and went to bed on the right-hand side of the room.
The gang had assured the owners that they would give no trouble, but they monitored the owners whenever they left or spoke on the phone. Emil's wife Nan and her brother managed to evade Baby Face Nelson, who was tailing them, and mailed a letter of warning to a U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago, which later contacted the Division of Investigation. Days later, a score of federal agents led by Hugh Clegg and Melvin Purvis (The G Man) approached the lodge in the early morning hours. Two barking watchdogs announced their arrival, but the gang was so used to Nan Wanatka's dogs that they did not bother to inspect the disturbance. It was only after the federal agents mistakenly shot a local resident and two innocent Civilian Conservation Corps workers as they were about to drive away in a car that the Dillinger gang was alerted to the presence of the BOI. Gunfire between the groups lasted only momentarily, but the whole gang managed to escape in various ways despite the agents' efforts to surround and storm the lodge.
J.J. Dunn, Dakota County Sheriff, received a call from the Department of Justice at 3:40 a.m. on Monday, April 23, giving notice of the possibility that the gang might be headed his way and to look for Wisconsin plate No. 92652 on the Model A. Dunn gathered a posse that included deputy sheriffs Joe Heinen, Norman Dieters, and Larry Dunn, with Hastings night policeman Fred McArdle. The coupe was spotted six hours later, shortly after 10 a.m., entering the city from the south on Highway 3, then "turned the drug store corner to cross the high bridge, in the direction of St. Paul." The officers used Heinen's Buick sedan in the pursuit, with Heinen driving and McArdle armed with a .30-30 and Dieters a .30-40. A large cattle truck slipped in between the officers' car and the Model A, and Heinen was unable to pass the truck until he reached the opposite side of the spiral bridge. Upon leaving the north end of the bridge, the bandit car was seen climbing the hill a half a mile across the valley. The Buick started to creep up on the trio. McArdle and Dieters fired warning shots outside their windows as the two cars were leaving St. Paul Park. Dillinger, the middle passenger, with Van Meter driving, returned fire with his .45 through the rear window of the coupe. As the cars roared up the highway toward Newport, approximately 50 shots were exchanged. The chase that started near St. Paul Park, according to the officers involved, was for about 20 miles, not 50, as it is usually reported.
McArdle fired the lucky shot that inflicted the mortal wound to Hamilton. In describing the death shot, McArdle said, "When the bullet hit the car, the coupe seemed to wobble for a minute and then we thought it was going into the ditch. The driver managed to keep it on the pavement, however, and after doubling back to St. Paul Park and crossing the highway toward Cottage Grove, they lost us in the hills." The car would soon be replaced before heading to Chicago to seek out medical attention for Hamilton. It should be remembered that the trio hadn't slept at all the night before. It was also extremely cramped in the coupe with three people, one of them being mortally wounded, as the length of a Model A seat is only 39 inches across. Much has been written about the slowness of the Model A used in the escape (top speed about 45 mph), but with a large part of the driving done in darkness, Van Meter wouldn't have been going much faster than 40-45 mph in any car, since headlight systems in all cars of the period were notoriously inadequate. High speed at night was simply too dangerous. It's unfortunate for Dillinger, Van Meter and Hamilton that they didn't ditch the coupe for a faster car at daybreak. It probably wasn't possible to do so.
Hamilton was taken by Dillinger and Van Meter to see Joseph Moran in Chicago, though Moran refused to treat Hamilton. He died at a Barker-Karpis hideout in Aurora, Illinois, three days after the shooting near Hastings. Dillinger, Van Meter, Arthur Barker, Volney Davis and Harry Campbell, members of the Barker-Karpis gang,buried him in Oswego, Illinois. On May 3, one week after Hamilton's death, Dillinger, Van Meter, and Tommy Carroll robbed the First National Bank of Fostoria, Ohio. In the robbery, Fostoria police chief Frank Culp was wounded when Van Meter shot him in the chest with a Thompson. Dillinger and Van Meter spent most of May living out of a red panel truck with a mattress in the back.
In early May, Dillinger paid a visit to Fred Hancock at 3301 East New York Street, Indianapolis (the Shell filling station where Hubert and Fred worked), and gave him $1,200 in cash. Fred Hancock: "It was on Thursday, May 10, that I next saw John. A fellow came into the station between 5:00 and 4:00 p.m. on this date dressed in overalls, wearing glasses, no coat, wearing a sleeveless jacket. He was unshaven, and this party stood by the kerosene drum. I did not recognize him at the time and continued to wait upon a customer who was in the station, and then walked into the filling station house, thinking that this party standing by the kerosene drum was a kerosene customer. This party then walked over to the filling station house and knocked on the window to attract my attention. When I looked at him more closely I realized that it was John. He left with me a package containing money and told me where to take it. He said to tell Dad if anything happened to him to give Billie some of that money. He gave me $1,200 made up in four packages -- $500 for Grandpa, $500 for my mother, Audrey Hancock, $100 for Hubert and $100 for myself, and I personally delivered this money to the people it was intended for. John told me how 'hot' he was. This was after the time the shooting had occurred at Little Bohemia Lodge in Wisconsin. He said he would return in two weeks. He was walking at the time, and I do not know how he came into the station. When leaving, he walked out of the station and walked south on LaSalle Street to Washington Street. The money was all made up of one-, five- and ten-dollar bills. There were very few ten-dollar bills in the money, it being mostly ones and fives. I used the $100 John gave me in connection with some work I was having done on the eyes of my little girl, and I understand that Mother and Grandpa later paid out the $500 they each received to some attorney, possibly John (sic) Ryan, in connection with John's case."
Agent Whitson had been observing the activity at the Shell station on the corner of New York and LaSalle. Whitson: "On 5-10-34 I noticed a stranger talking to Fred Hancock near the kerosene drum in the yard of the station at about 3:45 p.m. He was wearing blue overalls, brown vest, blue shirt and tie, dark hat, and wore spectacles, either rimless or with a thin metal rim. His complexion was ruddy and he had a stubble of beard. In his right hand he carried at all times what appeared to be a pint milk bottle wrapped in newspaper. About 3:50 p.m. the stranger left the station, going south on LaSalle Street toward Washington Street. Agent noted that the man appeared to have a deep cleft in his chin, and decided to follow him and have a better look at him. Agent reached the street without being observed by Hancock and followed the stranger, who was walking rapidly and without any noticeable lameness or infirmity in either leg. The man turned west on Washington Street when Agent was still between 25 and 30 yards behind him. When agent reached the street intersection, the man was nowhere in sight." 
On May 24, it is alleged that Van Meter killed two East Chicago police detectives who had tried to pull them over. On June 7, Tommy Carroll was shot and killed by police in Waterloo, Iowa. Dillinger and Van Meter reunited with Nelson a week later and went into hiding.
On June 30, Dillinger, Van Meter, Nelson, and an unidentified "fat man" robbed the Merchants National Bank in South Bend, Indiana. The identity of the "fat man" has never been confirmed, it is widely suspect that he was one of Nelson's associates, or, as suggested by Fatso Negri to the BOI, Pretty Boy Floyd. During the robbery, a police officer named Howard Wagner was killed when Van Meter shot him in the chest as he responded to the sound of a burst of submachine gunfire coming from inside the bank. Van Meter was shot in the head during the resulting shootout, and was seriously wounded.
By July 1934, Dillinger had dropped completely out of sight, and the federal agents had no solid leads to follow. He had, in fact, drifted into Chicago and went under the alias of Jimmy Lawrence, a petty criminal from Wisconsin who bore a close resemblance to Dillinger's real self. Taking up a job as a clerk, Dillinger found that, in a large metropolis like Chicago, he was able to lead an anonymous existence for a while. What Dillinger did not realize was that the center of the federal agents' dragnet happened to be in Chicago. When the authorities found Dillinger's blood spattered getaway car on a Chicago side street, they were positive that he was in the city.
Dillinger had always been a fan of the Chicago Cubs, and instead of lying low like many criminals on the run, he continued to attend Cubs games at Wrigley Field during the months of June and July 1934. He's known to have been at Wrigley on Friday, June 8, only to watch his beloved Cubs lose to Cincy 4-3. Also in attendance at the game were Dillinger's lawyer, Louis Piquett, and Captain John Stege of the Dillinger Squad.
Plastic surgery at Probasco's house of horrors
As early as March of '34, according to Art O'Leary, Dillinger had expressed an interest in plastic surgery and had asked O'Leary to check with Piquett on such matters. Fast-forward to the end of April, when Piquett paid a visit to his old friend, Dr. Wilhelm Loeser. Loeser stated he earned an M.D. degree from Northwestern Medical School in 1905. He stated he was a registered pharmacist in both Oklahoma and Illinois (at some point he operated a drugstore at 1102 Leland Avenue, Chicago), as well as licensed to practice medicine in Illinois. He practiced in Chicago for 27 years before being convicted of the Harrison Narcotic Act in 1931. He was sentenced to three years at Leavenworth, but was paroled early on December 7, 1932 with Piquett's help. He immediately violated his parole a few weeks later by going to Mexico during Christmas, and stayed for 10 months. He said the time was spent studying the effects of marijuana and mescaline. He later testified that while in Mexico he performed facial surgery on himself and obliterated the fingerprint impressions on the tips of his fingers by the application of a caustic soda preparation. He said he also obtained a divorce from his wife in Mexico in 1933 and married Anna Patzke upon his return to the States, a woman he had been living with for 15 years prior to Mexico. Because of violating his parole, he went by the name of Ralph Robeind.
A couple of days after the initial meeting between Piquett and Loeser, Piquett introduced the doctor to O'Leary. Piquett said the price Dillinger would pay for the procedure was $5,000, of which $4,400 would be split between Piquett, Loeser and O'Leary, and $600 would go to Dr. Harold Cassidy, who would administer the anesthetic. The procedure would take place at the home of Piquett's longtime friend, 67-year-old James Probasco, at the end of May. Probasco occupied the first level of the two-story house, with one Henry Schoknecht, a guard at the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium, about four miles north of the house, occupying the second. Probasco would charge Dillinger $35 per day for rent. At some point in May Loeser sent Frank Daley, his "collector," to buy some surgical instruments. Loeser: "I think I gave Daley about twenty dollars to pay for the surgical instruments. I wrote out a list for him. Two hemostats, one or two hypodermic syringes, pair of scissors, gauze, ether, ether mask, some needles, catgut sutures, horsehair sutures. I believe that is all. I did not tell him to buy any acids or chemicals. I gave Daley several places for him to go. He bought them on Milwaukee Avenue. The name is Diadul." O'Leary: "On the night of May 27, I saw Dillinger at Probasco's house. Mr. Piquett was with me. We met there by appointment, which I made. Dillinger called my residence and asked me to get in touch with Mr. Piquett and have Mr. Piquett meet him promptly at 10:00 that night. We drove over to Probasco's house in Mr. Piquett's automobile. Dillinger was in front of Probasco's residence when we arrived. Dillinger was introduced to Probasco. After we got in the house, Mr. Piquett and Dillinger discussed the appeal of the Evelyn Frechette case. Dillinger asked how long he had known Dr. Loeser. He paid Mr. Piquett $3,000, saying that the balance would be paid after the operation. Probasco was in the house, but he was not back in the kitchen at that time. There was a lady who came out of the bedroom off the kitchen, and Dillinger was very much surprised to see her there, inasmuch as we had told him that Probasco was a bachelor and lived alone. Probasco explained that she was his housekeeper, had been with him for a year, and that she was trustworthy; however, if Dillinger objected to her being there, he would have her stay elsewhere. Dillinger asked if she was a good cook, and Probasco said she was, and they decided to keep her there. Her name was Peggy Doyle. He wanted to know who Dr. Cassidy was, and Mr. Piquett and myself assured him that we had both known Dr. Cassidy for a number of years. He seemed satisfied. We were there that night about an hour or an hour and a half."
Henry Schoknecht, the man living on the second floor above Probasco, told Agent Winstead on July 27 that he had met Peggy (Margaret) Doyle about a year earlier at his place of employment, the sanitarium; that he became quite well acquainted with her and that on several occasions would bring her to his second floor flat at 2509 North Crawford, where she would spend several hours with him, and where he admitted having "immoral relations with her." He said that around Christmas 1933 he introduced her to Probasco. He stated that shortly after this meeting Probasco admitted his fondness and affection for Miss Doyle, and soon thereafter Doyle began calling on Probasco; that within a month to six weeks Miss Doyle began calling on Probasco at least three to four times a week, and would sometimes spend the night. According to Cassidy, Peggy Doyle was "a rather large woman." 
On Monday, May 28, Loeser was picked up at his home at 7:30 p.m. by O'Leary and Cassidy. The three of them then drove to Probasco's. Loeser asked Dillinger if he wished for general or local anesthetic. He chose general. Loeser: "I asked him what work he wanted done. He wanted two warts (moles) removed on the right lower forehead between the eyes and one at the left angle, outer angle of the left eye; wanted a depression of the nose filled in; a scar; a large one to the left of the median line of the upper lip excised, wanted his dimples removed and wanted the angle of the mouth drawn up. He didn't say anything about the fingers that day to me."
The doctors proceeded to get Dillinger ready to operate. He took off his clothes, went into the bedroom and laid down on the cot. Cassidy administered the ether to Dillinger. Cassidy: "The man stopped respiration for a moment during the stage of excitment, which often happens." An overdose of the ether given by Cassidy had caused Dillinger to swallow his tongue. He began to turn blue and stopped breathing before Loeser pulled Dillinger's tongue out of his mouth with a pair of forceps, and at the same time forcing both elbows into his ribs. Dillinger gasped and breathing returned. Thereafter, only a local anesthetic was used. Loeser began by removing several moles on Dillinger's forehead, making an incision in his nose and an incision in his chin and tied back both cheeks. Loeser met with Piquett again on Saturday, June 2, with Piquett saying that more work was needed on Dillinger and that Van Meter now wanted the same work done to him. Also, both now wanted work done on their fingertips. The price for the fingerprint procedure would be $500 per hand, or $100 a finger. Loeser used a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acid - called commonly aqua regia.
More on the use of ether by P.M. Drury:
Loeser met O'Leary the following night at Clark and Wright at 8:30, and they once again drove to Probasco's. Present this evening were Dillinger, Van Meter, Probasco, Piquett, Cassidy, and Peggy Doyle. Loeser: "After all the money was passed, I first of all asked Van Meter what work he wanted done. He explained to me that there was a scar on the left of the median line running about two inches into the hair which was very large and prominent. He wanted that removed and changed in position and shape. If it could be totally removed, he wanted it removed. He wanted the hooker, the result of a broken nose, reduced in size. His lower lip, which was a characteristic negro lip, he wanted thinned. He wanted the large tattoo mark on his right forearm taken off. The tattoo was an anchor with the words, 'Good Hope,' I should judge about four inches long. He wanted all the fingers treated on both hands. While all this was going on, as I recall, Cassidy was in the kitchen boiling the instruments." Loeser continues: "I carried the acids and chemicals mostly in my vest pocket and the instruments in my coat pocket, wrapped in a towel. I had two hemostats, one or two hypos, a pair of scissors, and one knife in my coat pocket. I did not have a bone chisel with me. The scissors were used, as well as the knife, whenever any cutting of their facial tissue was needed. I used scissors for incisions to cut off the nevus on Dillinger. I used scissors to cut out an impression, to improve the lower lip on Van Meter, and finishing touches were done with scissors." Loeser testified that he was at work for only about 30 minutes before O'Leary and Piquett had left.
For his work on Van Meter, Loeser testified: "On Mr. Van Meter, starting above -- there was a large scar to the left of the median line extending about two inches into the hair. I excised that scar, virtually eliminating it, changing it in contour and size, virtually unobservable after completion of the work. Next, Mr. Van Meter had a hooker on his nose from a broken nose. I took that hooker away. Then he had a large pedicle at the end of the nose. I took that pedicle away. Then he had a lip which resembled very much a negro lip. I took and sliced a wedge-formed piece of that away. All the while when I was working up there, I was also working on the hands, because the hands were a very slow progress of work. The process I use on the fingertips has no name in any book. It is an acid. Some use acid, but there are also instruments used, not only chemicals. Chemicals as well as instruments. Cassidy and I worked on Dillinger and Van Meter simultaneously on June 3. While the work was being done, Dillinger and Van Meter changed off. The work that could be done while the patient was sitting up, that patient was in the sitting-room. The work that had to be done while the man was lying down, that patient was on the couch in the bedroom. They were changed back and forth according to the work to be done. The hands were sterilized, made aseptic with antiseptics, thoroughly washed with soap and water and used sterile gauze afterwards to keep them clean. Next, cutting instrument, knife was used to expose the lower skin...in other words, take off the epidermis and expose the derma, then alternately the acid and the alkaloid was applied as was necessary to produce the desired results."
Minor work was done two nights later, Tuesday, June 5. Loeser made some small corrections first on Van Meter, then Dillinger. Loeser on a visitor that arrived: " A man came in before I left, who I found out later was Baby Face Nelson. He came in with a drum of machine gun bullets under his arm, threw them on the bed or the couch in the bedroom, and started to talk to Van Meter. The two then motioned for Dillinger to come over and the three went back into the kitchen. That was while Piquett was there. I was not there more than a half an hour that night." Loeser on a few occasions testified that he believed Van Meter was a morphine user. He said Van Meter was always seen with two things: his automatic and his little box of morphine tablets. Piquett testified that the next time he saw Dillinger was at a Cubs game a few days later (June 8), and that Dillinger said he had left Probasco's the day before. However, Peggy Doyle later told agents: "Dillinger and Van Meter resided at Probasco's home until the last week of June 1934; that on some occasions they would be away for a day or two, sometimes leaving separately, and on other occasions together; that at this time Van Meter usually parked his car in the rear of Probasco's residence outside the back fence; that she gathered that Dillinger was keeping company with a young woman who lived on the north side of Chicago, inasmuch as he would state upon leaving Probasco's home that he was going in the direction of Diversey Boulevard; that Van Meter apparently was not acquainted with Dillinger's friend, and she heard him warning Dillinger to be careful about striking up acquaintances with girls he knew nothing about; that Dillinger and Van Meter usually kept a machine gun in an open case under the piano in the parlor; that they also kept a shotgun under the parlor table."
O'Leary stated that between June 20 and June 25 he again went to the Probasco home, and that while in the house on this occasion he determined that Loeser had also performed more facial and fingertip work on Van Meter. He said that at this time Dillinger made a comment regarding his dissatisfaction with the facial work that Loeser had performed on him. O'Leary said that on another occasion he was waiting in the front room with Probasco, waiting for Dillinger to return from one of his walks: "that Probasco told him, 'the son of a bitch has gone out for one of his walks'; that he did not know when he would return; that Probasco raved about the craziness of Dillinger, stating that he was always going for walks and was likely to cause the authorities to locate the place where he was staying; that Probasco stated frankly on this occasion that he was afraid to have the man around."
Agents arrested Loeser at 1127 South Harvey, Oak Park, IL, on Tuesday, July 24. He was taken into custody barechested, wearing only pants and slippers. Agents had arrived at the house at 10:30 a.m., and after repeated knocks and no answer, the side door was kicked in and the house was entered. The first floor and basement were searched. Three agents were halfway up the stairs on their way to the second level when a man's voice called out, "Who's there?" Loeser was immediately taken to the Chicago Division Office by Agents Charles Winstead and John Welles, then later placed in B-4, Cell 23 at the Cook County Jail. Agents Winstead and Peterson examined a pocketbook found on Loeser. On a piece of paper inside, written in pencil, the following was written: "Don't wash hands. Don't try to clean them in any way. After bath be careful not to fall down in tub. Cannot use hands. Don't use hands at all for one week." Agents thoroughly search the house. In the basement was found a minitature laboratory. In the study upstairs, a large collection of medical books was found, most of which concentrating on cancer and skin diseases. Also in this room were a sun ray machine and an X-ray machine. Loeser later testified that he had met Piquett on two or three occasions after June 5 to collect money that was still owed to him. He testified that Piquett had told him the following during their last meeting, on June 15: "The Government people have been following me and I expect trouble from the work and association we've had with Dillinger and Van Meter. If there is any trouble, I want you to get out of town. If you are apprehended, I want you to maintain that you are Ralph Robeind. If you have to divulge your identity, then you are to shift my blame on Arthur O'Leary, and you state you received the $7,000 from me. I will claim the $3,000 as my attorney's fees. That will leave me in the clear. If you don't do that, you will soon be killed." O'Leary returned from a family fishing trip on July 24, the day of Loeser's arrest, and had read in the newspapers that the Department of Justice was looking for two doctors and another man in connection with some plastic work that was done on Dillinger. O'Leary left Chicago immediately but returned two weeks later, learned that Loeser and others had been arrested, phoned Piquett, who assured him everything was all right, then left again. He returned from St. Louis on August 25 and was promptly taken into custody.
On Friday, July 27, Jimmy Probasco jumped or "accidentally" fell to his death from the 19th floor of the Bankers' Building in Chicago while in custody.
On Thursday, August 23, Homer Van Meter was shot and killed in a dead-end alley in St. Paul by Tom Brown, former St. Paul Chief of Police, and then-current chief Frank Cullen from multiple sawed-off shotgun blasts. Brown: " I kept pumping my shotgun at him as fast as I could and I realized later that Cullen alongside of me was doing the same. He was already dead when we came to him. The shotgun slugs hit him in the chest, face and head. His fingers on both hands were shot off." Morgue photos of Van Meter tell a different story about all of his fingers. Furthermore, Rufus Coulter, who Van Meter exchanged gunfire with at Lincoln Court back in March, took Van Meter's fingerprints on this day at the St. Paul Morgue, or at least the fingers he had left.
Woman in red
Division of Investigations chief J. Edgar Hoover created a special task force headquartered in Chicago to locate Dillinger. On July 21, a madam from a brothel in Gary, Indiana, Ana Cumpănaş, also known as Anna Sage, contacted the police. She was a Romanian immigrant threatened with deportation for "low moral character" and offered the federal agency information on Dillinger in exchange for their help in preventing her deportation. The agency agreed to her terms, but she was later deported. Cumpănaş told them that Dillinger was spending his time with another prostitute, Polly Hamilton, and that she and the couple would be going to see a movie together on the following day. She agreed to wear an orange dress, so that police could easily identify her. She was unsure which of two theaters they would be attending but told the agency their names: the Biograph and the Marbro.
A team of federal agents and officers from police forces outside Chicago was formed, along with a very few Chicago police officers. Among them was Sergeant Martin Zarkovich, to whom Sage had informed on Dillinger. Federal officials felt that the Chicago police had been compromised and could not be trusted, and Hoover and Purvis also wanted a Federal coup for their own reasons. Not chancing another embarrassing escape, the police were split into two teams. On Sunday, July 22, one team was sent to the Marbro Theater on the city's west side, while another team surrounded the Biograph Theater at 2433 N. Lincoln Avenue on the north side. During the stakeout, the Biograph's manager thought the agents were criminals setting up a robbery. He called the Chicago police who dutifully responded and had to be waved off by the federal agents, who told them that they were on a stakeout for an important target.
On December 15, 1932, pardons were issued by Governor Harry G. Leslie of the State of Indiana for the offenses of which Anna Sage was convicted on 11-24-31 and 4-16-31.
Sage told agents that on Tuesday, July 17, "Dillinger had said he was going away for three or four days, and left that day, returning Friday morning, July 20; that after his return she learned from him and Polly that Dillinger and Van Meter had gone to Stevens Point, Ohio (sic); that when they were in Ohio they put Ohio license plates on their car; that while in Stevens Point they parked the car and were standing on the street corner, intending to visit a vaudeville show, but while they were on the street corner they noticed a large man come across the street toward them and walked between them, as they were standing a little distance apart; that they noticed this man go across the street a piece and take a paper out of his pocket and look at it, and they supposed it was a circular with their photographs on same. So they got in their car and returned to Chicago; that Dillinger stated had this man put his hand into his pocket while coming toward them, they intended on killing him. "Mrs. Sage stated that a couple of days before Dillinger went to Stevens Point on July 17, she told Polly that she knew Martin Zarkovich, her friend of East Chicago, Indiana, would get his vacation on July 15, and he would come to see her during his vacation. She did not want Dillinger to know or see Martin or Martin to see Dillinger at the house. She said Polly told her to tell Martin anything so he would not know that Dillinger was there. Mrs. Sage stated Dillinger left Chicago on July 17 and stated he would be away three or four days, and while he was away Martin Zarkovich called her on the telephone on Wednesday, July 18, and came to her home on Thursday, July 19. She stated that during Martin's visit on July 19 and during their casual conversation, she told Martin that she considered him her best friend and wanted his advice on a matter and asked his promise that he would not get her into any trouble; that he promised and asked her what it was about. She stated it was about Dillinger. She stated Martin then said, 'I hope you're not mixed up with that fellow.' She stated she then told Martin about Dillinger coming to visit Polly at her home for the past month or so; that Dillinger was then out of the city, but if he would call her Saturday by telephone she would let him know if Dillinger had returned, or if Polly had heard from him and where he was located. Mrs. Sage stated that Dillinger returned to Chicago Friday morning, and all day Friday Polly and Dillinger stayed at her house and did not go out anywhere, but played cards all day; that Saturday, July 21, Dillinger, Polly, Mrs. Sage's son (Steve Chiolak), and two girlfriends went to the beach at 5800 block North, and as soon as they left the house she got in touch with Martin and told him she knew plenty and arranged to meet him on Fullerton Parkway, where she later met Martin and Mr. Purvis, to whom she was then introduced. She told them she did not want them to come to her home to take Dillinger; that he was going to the Marbro Theater Sunday night or afternoon, and could arrange to take him there; that on Sunday afternoon, July 22, Polly took a nap, and while she was sleeping Dillinger asked her if she wanted to go to the show with them, he and Polly.
"She asked him what show was he going to see, and he said he would 'like to see the theater around the corner,' meaning the Biograph Theater. She stated she was unable to leave the house to inform Mr. Purvis or Martin about Dillinger's plans to attend the Biograph, but as they were going to have fried chicken for the evening meal, she told Polly she had nothing in which to fry the chicken, and was going to the store to get some butter; that while at the store she called Mr. Purvis and informed him of Dillinger's plans to attend the Biograph that evening, at the same time obtaining the butter. She then returned to the house so Polly would not be suspicious that she went out to call anyone."
Sage stated that after she, Dillinger and Polly had dinner, and before they left to attend the Biograph, "Dillinger counted out his money on his bed, and made note of the amounts of different denominations of bills he had. She said he separated fives, tens and twenties; that he had $1,000 in five-dollar bills, which he put a rubber band around and placed in his left-hand trouser pocket, and had about the same amount in ten-dollar bills, which he also fastened with a rubber band and placed in his left hip pocket. He had 65 twenty-dollar bills, which he placed in a leather billfold and placed in his right hip trouser pocket. She stated the billfold was "a very nice one, being hand-tooled." She stated that Dillinger always put some small bills in his right-hand trouser pocket, so he would not have to wait for change of a large bill when he purchased theatre tickets; that he also kept his gun in his right-hand trouser pocket."
Biograph Theater and death
What should have surprised no one, least of all the federal agents and police, Dillinger selected the Clark Gable gangster picture Manhattan Melodrama right around the corner at the Biograph instead of going across town to see Shirley Temple in Little Miss Marker at the Marbro. Dillinger was accompanied by Polly and Anna. Once they knew that Dillinger was in the theater, the lead agent, Samuel P. Cowley, contacted Hoover for instructions, who recommended that they wait outside rather than risk a gun battle in a crowded theater. He told the agents not to put themselves in harm's way and that any man could open fire on Dillinger at the first sign of resistance. When the film let out, Purvis stood by the front door and signaled Dillinger's exit by lighting a cigar. Both he and the other agents reported that Dillinger turned his head and looked directly at the agent as he walked by, glanced across the street, then moved ahead of his female companions, reached into his pocket but failed to extract his gun,:353 and ran into a nearby alley. Other accounts state Dillinger ignored a command to surrender, whipped out his gun, then headed for the alley. Agents already had the alley closed off, but Dillinger was determined to shoot it out.
Three men fired : Clarence Hurt fired twice, Charles Winstead fired three times, and Herman Hollis fired once. Dillinger was hit from behind and he fell face first to the ground. Two female bystanders, Theresa Paulas and Etta Natalsky, took slight flesh wounds in the legs and buttocks from flying bullet and brick fragments. Dillinger bumped into Natalsky just as the shooting commenced. Dillinger was struck four times, with two bullets grazing him, one cut a superficial hole in his right side, and the fatal shot - which entered Dillinger through the back of his neck, severed his spinal cord and tore through his brain before exiting out the front of his head just under his right eye, severing two sets of veins and arteries. Winstead was believed to have fired the fatal shot, and he received a personal letter of commendation from Director Hoover. An ambulance was summoned, though it was clear Dillinger had quickly died from his gunshot wounds and Dillinger was pronounced dead at Alexian Brothers Hospital. According to the investigators, Dillinger died without saying a word.
There were reports of people dipping their handkerchiefs and skirts into the blood pool that had formed as Dillinger lay in the alley in order to have keepsakes of the entire affair.
The amount of money Dillinger carried was not recorded when an inventory was made but by the time the body reached the morgue there was only $7.70 in Dillinger's pockets, Dillinger rarely traveled anywhere without several thousand dollars in his pockets or a money belt and Anna Sage said that Dillinger had left that evening with more than $3,000 on his person. Initially, not a single agent claimed to have seen anyone reach into the outlaw's pockets; everyone also insisted that the body was watched by at least one agent at all times. Agent Daniel Sullivan recalled that, with Purvis watching, he examined the body at the scene and "felt what appeared to be a roll of either money or paper in the right hand pants pocket." Eventually East Chicago detective Glenn Stretch claimed he saw a fellow officer take the money from Dillinger's pockets, though no charges were ever filed. The officer Stretch implicated was Martin Zarkovich.
Dillinger's body was displayed to the public at the Cook County morgue after his death. An estimated 15,000 people viewed the corpse in the day-and-half circus. As many as four death masks were also made. On July 24, Dillinger's body returned to Mooresville. Agents Johnson and Wood were stationed outside the undertakers and mingled with the crowd there. The body was put on exhibition at intervals during the evening to satisfy the curiosity of the crowd. The home of Audrey Hancock in Maywood was guarded through the night by Indianapolis city police, since the next day, July 25, at two p.m. funeral services were held at the home. Mary Kinder was observed by agents to be seated inside the house beside the body. Indianapolis city police were stationed at intervals of approximately every 300 feet on both Highway 67 and Old Highway 67, which passed in front of the Hancock residence. State police were cruising in automobiles and motorcycles in the vincinty. At the main entrance to Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis were five uniformed police, five police cars, and five motorcycle police. All other entrances were guarded by uniformed police and squad cars. Dillinger was buried in Section: 44, Lot: 94. His gravestone has needed to be replaced several times because of vandalism by people chipping off pieces as souvenirs. Hilton Crouch (1903-1976), an associate of Dillinger's on some early heists, is buried only a few yards to the west.
On Tuesday, July 24, Jack Smith, manager of the Chicago Gun Club in Lincoln Park, Chicago, noticed three boys nearby playing with a submachine gun. Smith took the gun away from the boys and took it to the police. The boys had been swimming and diving near the Diversey Street bridge on Lake Michigan and found the Thompson along with a Colt .38 Super automatic (with its identifying numbers removed), a blue bulletproof vest, and canvas bag containing 75 .45 rounds. Anna Sage, the day before, had dumped the small Dillinger arsenal in the lake to rid the incriminating evidence from her apartment.
Late in the afternoon of Thursday, July 26, police found on top of the Dillinger headstone, weighted down with a rock, a piece of torn notebook paper with the message: "I will get her, John. Leaving tonite. So Long. J.H." The grave had been guarded at all times since the funeral the day before to prevent vandalism. The two officers that were on duty at the grave site, Walker and Haugh, thought it to be a joke and gave it to the newspapers, it appearing in the Indianapolis News. Walker and Haugh remembered a mysterious black vehicle with Ohio plates parking nearby and two women dressed in black getting out, with the driver remaining in the car. The women walked over to the grave and stood for a few moments, but the officers didn't see them leave anything. The note was found a short time later. The note was interpreted by many to be a threat from John Hamilton (who'd been dead for three months).
From the Indianapolis News, Friday, July 27:
"Dillinger's father had just observed his 70th birthday on his farm near Mooresville. The days preceding it had taken a heavy toll on his strength and fortitude. A surprise birthday party which had been planned for him by his family was called off when word of the Chicago shooting was received. The elder Dillinger sat on the front porch of his modest home and watched automobiles drive slowly by. Occupants would point, slow down momentarily, then speed away, their curiousity partly satisfied. "There isn't much we can do on the farm now but mow weeds," John Sr. said. I've decided to take it easy for a while." The brakes of another car squeal in front. "I suppose they want to see where John lived," he said. I'll be happy when this dies down and we can live a simple life again."
Nash theory of Dillinger's escape
In The Dillinger Dossier, author Jay Robert Nash maintains that Dillinger escaped death at the Biograph Theater simply by not being there. In his stead was a "Jimmy Lawrence", a local Chicago petty criminal whose appearance was similar to Dillinger's. Nash uses evidence to show that Chicago Police officer Martin Zarkovich was instrumental in this plot. Nash theorizes that the plot unraveled when the body was found to have fingerprints that didn't match Dillinger's (the fingerprint card was missing from the Cook County Morgue for over three decades), it was too tall, the eye color was wrong, and it possessed a rheumatic heart. The F.B.I., a relatively new agency whose agents were only recently permitted to carry guns or make arrests, would have fallen under heavy scrutiny, this being the third innocent man killed in pursuit of Dillinger, and would have gone to great lengths to ensure a cover up.
In shooting the Dillinger stand-in, F.B.I. agents were stationed on the roof of the theater and fired downward, causing the open cuts on the face which were described through the media as "scars resulting from inept plastic surgery". The first words from Dillinger's father upon identifying the body were, "that's not my boy." The body was buried under five feet of concrete and steel, making exhumation less likely. Nash produced fingerprints and photos of Dillinger as he would appear in 1960 that were allegedly sent to Melvin Purvis just prior to his 1960 alleged suicide (more probably an accident). Nash alleged Dillinger was living and working in California as a machinist, under what would have been an early form of the witness protection program.
Challenging Nash's theory
- Dillinger did indeed have a heart condition according to Dr. Patrick H. Weeks, a physician and psychiatrist at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City during the time of Dillinger's incarceration at the facility. In his 1938 book, "The Big House of Mystery," he writes, "During his term at the Indiana prison I was well acquainted with Dillinger, but came rarely into contact with him in my professional capacity. The lad from Mooresville was not a hospital pest; that is, he was not one of those prisoners who needs medical treatment upon the slightest provocation whatsoever. I examined him two or three times, however, and discovered something about his physical condition which is quite surprising and which, incidentally, was never revealed in the press. John Dillinger suffered from heart disease. He had a distinct heart lesion. The disease was organic. I told Dillinger that he should never subject himself to great mental or physical strain, because it might hasten his death. I was confident that he would follow my advice."
- Dillinger's father initially couldn't believe the dead man he was looking at was his son. Neither could his sister, Audrey, when first seeing the body. It should be remembered that Dillinger underwent plastic surgery in late May and early June, including fingerprint removal/alteration, just a month and a half before his death. Audrey was finally convinced when E.F. Harvey of the Harvey Funeral Home asked her to locate the scar on the back of Dillinger's thigh, a souvenir of an encounter with a barbed-wire fence years prior during a watermelon raid.
- Dillinger's father was offered $10,000 by H.G. Cross of Wapun, Wisconsin, for use of the body to display for profit. It was due to offers such as these that the coffin was encased in concrete—to prevent ghouls from grave robbing—not because the casket contained a doppelgänger by the name of Jimmy Lawrence, as Nash suggests.
- 1941: Humphrey Bogart, who bore some physical resemblance to Dillinger, played a Dillinger-like role in a film based loosely on research into Dillinger's life by WR Burnett High Sierra.
- 1945: Lawrence Tierney played the title role in the first film dramatization of Dillinger's career; Dillinger.
- 1957: Director Don Siegel's film Baby Face Nelson, starred Mickey Rooney as Nelson and Leo Gordon as Dillinger.
- 1959: The FBI Story starring James Stewart, Jean Willes plays Anna Sage and Scott Peters plays Dillinger. Peters, a small-time actor, went uncredited in this role.
- 1969: Director Marco Ferreri's film Dillinger Is Dead includes documentary footage of real John Dillinger as well as newspaper clips.
- 1971: "Appointment with Destiny; The Last Days of John Dillinger," narrated by Rod Serling, 52 minutes. Shot in newsreel style, very accurate for its time. The late Joseph Pinkston served as technical advisor. Pinkston himself makes an uncredited cameo in the Biograph sequence, playing an agent.
- 1973: Dillinger, directed and written by John Milius with Warren Oates in the title role, presents the gang in a much more sympathetic light, in keeping with the anti-hero theme popular in films after Bonnie and Clyde (1967).
- 1979: Lewis Teague directed the film The Lady in Red, starring Pamela Sue Martin as the eponymous lady in the red dress. However, in this film, it is Dillinger's girlfriend Polly in red, not the Romanian informant Anna Sage (Louise Fletcher). Sage tricks Polly into wearing red so that FBI agents can identify Dillinger (Robert Conrad) as he emerges from the cinema.
- 1991: A TV film Dillinger, starring Mark Harmon
- 1995: Roger Corman produced the film Dillinger and Capone, featuring Martin Sheen as Dillinger and F. Murray Abraham as Al Capone. Dillinger survives the theater stakeout when the FBI mistakenly guns down his brother and is then blackmailed by Capone into retrieving $15 million from his secret vault.
- 2004: "Teargas and Tommyguns; Dillinger Robs the First National Bank," DVD, Mason City Public Library, 38 minutes. Documentary regarding the bank robbery, including contemporary interviews with still-living witnesses; also contains the H.C. Kunkleman film in its entirety.
- 2009: Director Michael Mann's film Public Enemies is an adaptation of Bryan Burrough's book Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34. The film features Johnny Depp as John Dillinger and Christian Bale as FBI agent Melvin Purvis. Although the film has accurate portrayals of several key moments in Dillinger's life - such as his death and dialogue at his arraignment hearing - it is inaccurate in some major historical details, such as the timeline (and location) of deaths of key criminal figures including Pretty Boy Floyd, Baby Face Nelson, and Homer Van Meter.
- 2012: British actor Alexander Ellis portrays Dillinger in the first Dollar Baby screen adaptation of Stephen King's short story, "The Death of Jack Hamilton".
- Weapons used by John Dillinger
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- Dillinger File, 62-29777, Nalls report
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- Mahoney, Tim, "Secret Partners; Big Tom Brown and the Barker Gang," p. 155
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- Purvis, Alston W.; Alex Tresinowski (2005). The Vendetta. PublicAffairs. pp. 155–156.
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- Weeks, Patrick H., M.D., "The Big House of Mystery," p. 148-149
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- Burrough, Bryan. Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34. New York: Penguin Press. 2004. ISBN 1-59420-021-1.
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- Girardin, G. Russell, Helmer, William J., Mattix, Rick. Dillinger: The Untold Story.
- Gorn, Elliott J. Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One (New York, OUP USA, 2009).
- Helmer, William J.; Mattix, Rick (1998). Public Enemies: America's Criminal Past, 1919-1940. New York City, New York: Facts on File. p. 17. ISBN 0-8160-3160-6.
- Stewart, Tony. Dillinger, The Hidden Truth: A Tribute to Gangsters and G-Men of the Great Depression Era. Xlibris Corporation, 2002. ISBN 1-4010-5373-4.
- Peters, Robert. What Dillinger Meant to Me Seahorse Press 1983 (with link to complete text online)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Dillinger.|
- Famous Cases: John Dillinger – at the FBI
- John Dillinger at Find a Grave
- Dillinger: The Untold Story, Anniversary Edition. Indiana University Press.
- Matera, Dary. Review of John Dillinger. Letters on Pages.
- John Dillinger Historical Crime Museum.
- Dillinger with rare photos from the FBI and U.S. National Archives
- Dillinger not killed
- View footage of the hunt for Dillinger and Dillinger posing for cameras in 1934
- Wanted poster: John Dillinger, published 12 March 1934 by U.S. Department of Justice, Division of Investigation