Saturday, July 21, 2012


John Dillinger
(June 22, 1903 – July 22, 1934)

I'd like to have enough money to enjoy life;
be clear of everything — not worry;
take care
of my old man,
and see a ball game every day.

— John Dillinger

(a life long Chicago Cubs fan)

"The Dillinger gang had directed its efforts entirely to the robbing of banks. Naturally a great many holdups were erroneously ascribed to the band. The following is a confirmed list of their depredations, although there is often a considerable variance between the losses claimed by banks or reported in the papers and what Dillinger declares he actually obtained.

July 17, 1933 — Commercial Bank, Daleville, Indiana, $3,500

August 4, 1933 — Montpelier National Bank, Montpelier, Indiana, $6,700.

August 14, 1933 — Bluffton Bank, Bluffton, Ohio, $6,000

Dillinger (wearing open vest) being led from jail to a courtroom at Crown Point, Indiana, on Feb. 9, 1934, for arraignment on the charge of killing a policeman in East Chicago, Indiana.

September 6, 1933 — Massachusetts Avenue State Bank, Indianapolis, Indiana, $21,000

October 23, 1933 — Central National Bank and Trust Company, Greencastle, Indiana, $76,000

A driver takes no chances of being suspected of harboring John Dillinger. 26th April 1934
© AP / TopFoto

November 20, 1933 — American Bank and Trust Company, Racine, Wisconsin, $28,000

December 13, 1933, — Unity Trust and Savings Bank, Chicago, Illinois, $8,700

January 15, 1934 — First National Bank and Trust Company, Sioux Falls, North Dakota,

Members of the Dillinger Gang (from left) Russell Clark,
Charles Makley, Harry Pierpont, John Dillinger, Ann Martin,
and Mary Kinder are arraigned in a Tucson, Arizona courtroom.

Photo courtesy the Associated Press.

March 13, 1934 — First National Bank, Mason City, Iowa, $52,000

June 30, 1934 — Merchants National Bank, South Bend, Indiana, $29,890"

from Dillinger, the untold Story
G. Russell Girardin with William J. Helmer
(Indiana University Press, 1994)

During these holdups, fifteen officers of the law and private citizens were killed and seventeen wounded.

The police officers who aided in the capture of the Dillinger gang in Tucson Arizona shown above with five sub-machine guns, bullet proof vests, revolvers and ammunition taken from members of the gang of Bank Robbers and escaped convicts. From left to right standing Detective Dallas Ford ; Chief of Police Gus Wellard ; Harry Foley ; Frank Eyman ; Captain Jay Smith ; Chet Sherman ; James Herron . From left to right kneeling Milo Walker ; K. Mullaney Earl Nolan . 28th January 1934

Out of the Dillinger gang, eleven were killed and twenty-three sent to prison. This would include John Dillinger himself, killed in Chicago by federal agents and police officers on July 22, 1934.
Homer Van Meter was shot by police in St. Paul, Minnesota on August 23, 1934. Harry Pierpont was electrocuted in the state penitentiary at Columbus, Ohio October 17, 1934, and on November 27, 1934, George "Baby Face" Nelson (Lester Gillis) died from gunshot wounds given by federal agents in Barrington, Illinois.

John Dillinger, Fred Barker,
'Pretty Boy' Floyd, Homer Van
Meter, Alvin Karpis, and 'Baby
Face' Nelson

Along with the human life lost, three-hundred thousand dollars was taken in bank robberies, and a million dollars spent by federal, state and local governments, plus private organizations, at protecting the public while running this gang down.

A photograph of the exterior of the house in Chicago where John Dillinger lived prior to his death near a Chicago theater. Here, the outlaw, who had changed his appearance with the aid of a plastic surgeon, stayed only to make frequent trips to the theater where he was killed. 25th July 1934

John Dillinger was the only criminal designated "Public Enemy Number One" by a federal official.

Dillinger once more nabbed by lawmen
(will escape)

Though Girardin and Helmer state the Dillinger gang only held up banks, it's been noted they also robbed four police stations.

(click on images to enlarge)

John Dillinger was alleged to have killed an East Chicago, Indiana police officer during a shoot-out. This has since been disputed but if true would be Dillinger's only known homicide. He was charged but never convicted.

After eluding the law in four states for almost a year, Dillinger returned to Chicago, Illinois, a city he felt comfortable in, and met his end on July 22, 1934 while leaving the Biograph Theater when federal agents and police officers closed in to make an arrest. A woman companion, Ana Cumpanas, the legendary "Woman in Red" (she actually wore an orange dress that night (10:35) while with Dillinger, as a signal to the law) was the turncoat. Dillinger pulled a revolver and was shot dead by a fuselage of lawman led by federal agents Melvin Purvis and Samuel P. Cowley with three, some say four, bullets that struck home. Purvis was given credit for shooting Dillinger, but he never fired his gun. Three men fired the fatal shots: Clarence Hurt fired twice, Charles Winstead fired three times, and Herman Hollis fired once.

Two months earlier, in Louisiana, Bonnie & Clyde were gunned down.

Biograph Theater, Chicago

A little background on Ana Cumpanas (alias Anna Sage), a native of Romania : early that year she was facing deportation to Romania, after the authorities described her as "alien of low moral character". She was the madam of a Chicago, Illinois brothel. On July 4, 1934, John Dillinger began frequenting Cumpanas' establishment which included twenty-six year old Polly Hamilton, Dillinger's latest girlfriend.

Polly Hamilton

Both Cumpanas and Polly Hamilton would be on either side of Dillinger when he walked out of the Biograph Theater that fatal night. Once AC became aware of Dillinger's criminal identity, and the large reward being offered for his capture, she fingered the bank robber as a way of obtaining permanent US residence.

Ana Cumpanas (alias Anna Sage)

Dillinger on the floor of a police vehicle as he was taken to the mortuary after he had been killed.

After Dillinger was gunned down, the FBI shuffled Cumpanas first to Detroit and then to California. She earned herself a $5,000 reward, only half of what she had been promised.
In the meantime mixed messages were occurring whether she was staying in the country or being shipped out — the FBI went so far as to admit they were powerless to stop the deportation proceedings due to shoddy communication between branches of the federal government. Little has changed! Cumpanas appealed this decision in Chicago but the court stood with the lower court and Ana Cumpanas was that same year deported to Timișoara, Romania, where she lived out of the public eye until her death in 1947 from liver disease.

The bank robber on display at Cook County Morgue

"Nash theory of Dillinger's escape —

In "The Dillinger Dossier," author Jay Robert Nash maintains that Dillinger escaped death at the Biograph 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 this dupe, 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 to prevent any exhumation. Nash produced photos that were sent to Melvin Purvis just prior to his 1960 suicide (more probably an accident) along with fingerprints of Dillinger as he would appear in 1960 (he was apparently living and working in California as a machinist) under what would have been an early form of the witness protection program."

~ Wikipedia