John Herbert Dillinger was an American gangster in the Depression-era United States. He operated with a group of men known as the Dillinger Gang or Terror Gang, which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations, among other activities. Take a look below for 30 more bizarre and interesting facts about John Dillinger.
1. Dillinger escaped from jail twice.
2. 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; despite his infamy and unlike the other members of his gang. It was Dillinger’s only homicide charge.
3. He courted publicity and the media of his time ran exaggerated accounts of his bravado and colorful personality, styling him as a Robin Hood figure.
4. In response, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover developed a more sophisticated Bureau as a weapon against organized crime, using Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform.
5. After evading police in four states for almost a year, Dillinger was wounded and returned to his father’s home to recover.
6. 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 of Ana Cumpanas; the owner of the brothel where Dillinger had sought refuge at the time.
7. On July 22, 1934, the police and the Division of Investigation closed in on the Biograph Theater.
8. Federal agents, led by Melvin Purvis and Samuel P. Cowley, moved to arrest Dillinger as he exited the theater.
9. He drew a Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket and attempted to flee, but was killed. This was ruled as justifiable homicide.
10. He was born John Herbert Dillinger on June 22, 1903, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to John Wilson Dillinger, a grocer, and Mary Ellen Lancaster.
11. His mother died before he turned four and he was raised by his older sister for several years until his dad remarried.
12. Dillinger got into trouble often as a teenager, and quit school to work.
13. His father moved the family out of the city to Mooresville but Dillinger’s behavior escalated.
14. He joined the U.S. Navy and was eventually dishonorably discharged.
15. After marrying and not being able to find a job, Dillinger turned to robbing banks and his legacy of crime began. His crime spree eventually led to the title of “Public Enemy Number 1.”
16. Dillinger married Beryl Ethel Hovious in Mooresville in 1924.
17. He robbed a grocery store in 1924 while carrying a .32 caliber pistol and a large handkerchief-wrapped bolt. He attacked the grocer, but the grocer fought back and Dillinger ran. He was later arrested and sentenced to 10 to 20 years.
18. While in prison at the Indiana State Reformatory, he met future co-criminals Homer Van Meter and Harry Pierpont.
19. In 1929, Dillinger’s wife Beryl divorced him, leaving him heart broken.
20. Dillinger’s bitterness resulted in a parole denial. He was granted a transfer from Michigan City Prison, where he met Walter Dietrich, a seasoned bank robber.
21. While in prison, Dillinger and his future accomplices made plans to rob banks upon release. Dillinger managed to be granted parole because his step mother was gravely sick.
22. While on parole, Dillinger began to rob banks, and was arrested while visiting Mary Longnaker in Ohio. He was sprung by his accomplices in Lima, Ohio.
23. Dillinger and his accomplices robbed several Midwest banks beginning late in 1933 and well into 1934.
24. The Dillinger Gang robbed banks in a very theatrical manner, posing as alarm system reps, and film crews to gain access. They began to gain a glamorous reputation and the law began to look very inept.
25. The Chicago Police Department established the Dillinger Squad, a group of season officers, to hunt the robbers down.
26. While robbing the First National Bank in East Chicago, an officer shot at Dillinger. Dillinger shot back and the officer died. Dillinger was set to stand trial but escaped.
27. The FBI got involved when Dillinger crossed state lines with a stolen vehicle.
28. Hoover was head of the FBI at the time, and a failed attempt to arrest the gang at a lodge led to Dillinger going underground.
29. Dillinger made his final bank robbery on June 30, 1934. The bank was Merchant’s National Bank, located in South Bend, Indiana. Dillinger’s friend Anna Sage, a Romanian immigrant and prostitute, turned him in to avoid deportation.
30. The government spent more money trying to capture Dillinger than he ever stole. It’s estimated that he made away with approximately $500,000, while the government spent $2 million trying to catch him.