John Dillinger (page 2)

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.[16]

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."[16]

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.[16] 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.[53]

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.[16]

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."[54]

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."[55]

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."[16]

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:


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.[56] 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.

Final months

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.[18]

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 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.[57] 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. Agent W. Carter Baum was shot dead by Nelson during the gun battle.[7]


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.[59]

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.[60]

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.[61] 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 be back 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." [16]

On May 24, it is alleged that Van Meter killed two East Chicago police detectives who had tried to pull them over.[62] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[7]

Cubs games

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.[63] 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. There were eight future Hall of Famers at the park this day. Dillinger saw seven of them play.[16]


He had better luck at the next known game he attended, Tuesday, June 26, when his Cubs beat Brooklyn 5-2. Future Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler homered for Chicago. Leading the Dodgers this day was rookie manager Casey Stengel.[65]

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 as price as well as a hideout. Fast-forward to the end of April, when Piquett paid a visit to his old friend, Dr. Wilhelm Loeser, at the good doctor's home (536 Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago). Loeser, born in Barby, Germany, in 1876, the family (mother, one sister, four brothers) relocated to the U.S. the following year via the North German Lloyd ship Lahn. The Loesers lived in various towns in Iowa until 1897, when they moved to Bryon, Oklahoma, for a year, then to Lawrence, Kansas, where Loeser studied pharmacy and medicine at the University of Kansas. The family finally arrived in Chicago in 1902. 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 married Bertha Danitz in 1906, had four children, then separated from her in 1913, said Loeser, "because she was insane." Both of his parents died in 1911. 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. He spent a little time in Texas and Oklahoma before returning back to Chicago in January 1934. Because of violating his parole, he went by the name of Ralph Robeind.[66]


A couple 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 (recruited by Piquett), who would administer the anesthetic. The procedure would take place at the home of Piquett's longtime friend, 67-year-old James Probasco, at 2509 North Crawford Avenue, 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."[68] 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."[69]

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." [70]


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. O'Leary on the setup of the house: "There is a small living room, and off to the left of the living room to the left as you enter is a small bedroom, a very small bedroom, and straight through a small archway to the right is a bathroom; you then enter the kitchen through this archway, and to the left off the kitchen is another bedroom." Loeser was introduced to Dillinger, they shook hands. Loeser asked Dillinger if he wished for general or local anesthetic. He chose general. Loeser: "Then I examined him like I would examine anyone before operating and giving an anesthetic. When he said that he had not eaten anything since morning and had not taken any liquids for about six hours, 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."[72]

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: "A local anesthetic was given by injection in the skin, in the subcutaneous tissue around the field of operation, with a hypo syringe. That was what was done with Dillinger." 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. Present this first night were Dillinger, Loeser, Cassidy, O'Leary, and Probasco, who, according to testimony from Piquett, had a broken leg and was on crutches at this time. O'Leary testified that Peggy Doyle was also present, but Cassidy and Loeser say otherwise. 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: "I made preparations for that. I had the necessary chemicals and instruments in my possession at the time. I prepared the chemicals between midnight of June 2 and the evening of June 3. It took me possibly a half hour to prepare the chemicals. Nobody was present while I prepared them. That's my own secret. It's a mixture of two acids. Nitro-hydrochloric acid. It is called commonly aqua regia. It is the only acid that will dissolve gold. I took two of hydro-chloric and one of nitro. I prepared whatever I thought I would need. I do not recall the amount. It may have been twenty-five cubic centimeters. I prepared that in my room. There was one other chemical I had ready. I'm quite sure it was sodium. I had probably 10 cc. I had all those chemicals for months. I had them in Mexico with me."[73]

More on the use of ether by P.M. Drury:

"Despite manifest disadvantages, ether owed its continuing use in this decade and beyond to the maintenance of circulatory stability at high inspired concentrations, and to its ability, also at high concentrations, to produce abdominal relaxation, which approached that provided by today's relaxants. In these respects, it had no real rivals. But it was flammable and explosive, and its after effects were extremely unpleasant. They were vividly described by Henderson and Coburn in the following terms: 'patients... were flaccid, cyanotic, pallid, or grey, with empty veins, weak peripheral pulses, and depressed respiration; it was one to three hours before consciousness returned, and this was followed by nausea, vomiting, and retching for some time afterwards.'"[74]

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."[75]

Minor work was done two nights later, Tuesday, June 5. Loeser made some small corrections first on Van Meter, then Dillinger. Loeser on a vistor 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."[76]

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."[77] 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.[78]

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.[79]


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 Cumpănaº, also known as Anna Sage, contacted the police. She was a Romanian immigrant threatened with deportation for "low moral character"[81] 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. Cumpănaº 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, which is believed to have appeared red in the artificial lights of the theater,[82] 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.[7]

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.[82] 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.[7]

Sage had had a lengthy history of arrests:

As Katie Brown, arrested in Gary, Indiana, as prostitute 2-12-23. Case dismissed July 17, 1923.

As Katie Brown, arrested as prostitute August 11, 1923. Found guilty August 13, 1923. Amount of fine not indicated.

As Katie Brown, arrested as keeper of the house of ill fame May 25, 1924. Found not guilty.

As Anna Sage, arrested February 8, 1930. Keeper of house of ill fame. Found guilty. Sentenced 90 days in Women's State Prison. Fine $25 and cost. Prison sentence suspended pending good behavior.

As Anna Sage, arrested as keeper of house of ill fame September 20, 1930. Found guilty October 23, 1930. Sentenced 60 days in Indiana State Women's Prison. Fine $60. Case appealed to Lake County Criminal Court and was dismissed by prosecuting attorney.

As Anna Sage, arrested October 25, 1930 on charge of keeper of house of ill fame. Found guilty November 17, 1930. Fine $50 and cost. Served thirty days in the Lake County Jail.

As Anna Sage, arrested November 16, 1930—keeper of house of ill fame. Case dismissed on motion of prosecutor May 18, 1932.

As Anna Sage, convicted February term, 1931.

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.[83]

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."[84]

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. As determined previously, Dillinger was accompanied by Polly and Anna. Once they knew that Dillinger was in the theater, the lead agent, Samuel P. Cowley, contacted J. Edgar Hoover for instructions, who recommended that they wait outside rather than risk a gun battle in a crowded theater. He also 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[86] 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,[5]:353 and ran into a nearby alley.[82] 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.[87]

Three men fired shots: 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.[88] 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.[16]

[82] 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.[3] Although three agents shot Dillinger, Winstead was believed to have fired the fatal shot, and he received a personal letter of commendation from Director Hoover.[82] An ambulance was summoned, though it was clear Dillinger had quickly died from his gunshot wounds. At 10:50 p.m. on July 22, 1934, Dillinger was pronounced dead at Alexian Brothers Hospital.[7]

[88] According to the investigators, Dillinger died without saying a word.[89] There were also reports of people dipping their handkerchiefs and skirts into the blood pool that had formed as Dillinger lay in the alley in order to secure keepsakes of the entire affair.[90]

List of Dillinger's clothing and accoutrements at the time of death:

1 pair white buckskin Nunn Bush shoes, size 9D, manufacturer No. 369 105721

1 pair black socks; no manufacturer's name

1 pair red Paris garters

1 pair shorts (Hanes) white in color, with blue stripes, size 34, bearing manufacturer No. 185A-350SE-34

1 pair gray pants containing laundry mark in pocket, No. 355 (40)

1 black belt with silver buckle, no monogram

1 white broadcloth shirt, Kenilworth brand

1 red printed necktie, bearing tag of Paul Boldt & Sons, 2724 North Clark Street, Chicago

1 gold ring with ruby set, containing the following inscription on the inside of the ring: "With all my love, Polly"

1 yellow gold 17-jewel Hamilton watch, works No. 344347, case No. 0568384. The rear of the case contained a photo of Polly Hamilton.

2 keys tied with a string; one for Anna Sage's apartment, the other for a clothes cabinet in the apartment (where Dillinger stored his ordnance), manufactured by the Independent Lock Company (cabinet key)

1 .380 automatic pistol

1 extra loaded .380 automatic magazine. The magazine was filled with U.M.C. Remington cartridges

1 white handkerchief with a brown border

(his glasses, straw boater, and the amount of money carried was not inventoried on this list)[91]

By the time the body reached the morgue (the 116th corpse to arrive so far that July), only $7.70 remained in Dillinger's pockets,[92] a man who rarely traveled anywhere without several thousand dollars stuffed in his pockets or a money belt. 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.[93]

Dillinger's body was displayed to the public at the Cook County morgue after his death.[94] An estimated 15,000 people viewed the corpse in the day-and-half circus, with the outlaw's brain already having been removed—and misplaced (with Dillinger's father and half-brother Hubert threatening to sue). As many as four death masks were also made.[95] On Tuesday, July 24, Dillinger's body returned to Mooresville, to Harvey's Undertaking Parlor, arriving at six p.m. Agents Johnson and Wood were stationed outside and mingled with the crowd surrounding Harvey's. The body was put on exhibition at intervals during the evening to satisfy the curousity of the crowd. The body had arrived in a sheet only, the clothes not having been brought to the undertaking establishment. 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. Both Highway 67 and Old Highway 67, which passed in front of the Hancock residence, were watched by both Indianapolis city police as well as state police. City police were stationed at intervals of approximately every 300 feet on each of the above-mentioned roads. State police were cruising in automobiles and motorcycles in the vincinty. Stationed 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.[96] His gravestone has needed to be replaced several times because of vandalism by people chipping off pieces as souvenirs.[97] Hilton Crouch (1903-1976), an associate of Dillinger's on some early heists, is buried only a few yards west of the former Public Enemy at Crown Hill.[98]

At about 11:30 a.m. 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 turned it in to police. The boys had been swimming and diving near the Diversey Street bridge on Lake Michigan and found the Thompson along with the following items inventoried by agents:

1 Thompson submachine gun, without a stock, Model 1921, No. 7387 (stolen during the Crown Point escape 3-3-34), fully loaded drum, fully loaded magazine. 1 Colt .38 Super automatic, fully loaded, both secret numbers and regular numbers removed

1 blue bulletproof vest, on the neck of which was sewn a piece of loose fabric which had approximately 9 holes in it, which might have been caused by buckshot, although neither the cloth nor the metal underneath it substantiated this

1 .380 magazine which contained no ammunition

1 canvas bag containing 75 rounds of .45 shells

Also from the same report: "The point where the articles were located is about 150 feet east of the Diversy Street bridge, this being a bridge in Lincoln Park on the outer drive. The spot where the articles were found was about 50 feet from the parking space of the Chicago Gun Club. The shore at that point is composed of large rocks. The water near the shore is about 7 feet deep, and it was near this shore that the articles were found. The assumption would be that whoever threw the articles in the lake drove into the Gun Club parking space, which is not private, parked the car and carried the articles over to the lake and threw them in." [16] 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, found by police on top of the Dillinger headstone, weighted down with a rock, was 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 vandelism. 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 appeared in an evening edition and also the next day's edition of 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, signed "J.H.," was interpreted by many to be a threat from John Hamilton (who'd been dead for three months).[99]


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."[100]


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.[102]

Challenging Nash's theory

Film depictions

Author:Bling King
Published:Oct 24th 2014
Modified:Oct 24th 2014

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