John Dillinger Death Photos Biography
One of the most famous bank robbers in history, he was born John Herbert Dillinger on June 22, 1903, to a grocery store owner named John Wilson Dillinger and his wife Mollie (the family also included an older sister, Audrey). By all accounts the Dillingers were a normal "all-American" family, but the normality was broken when John was three and his mother passed away (her death has been ascribed to a variety of causes, but the best guess is that she died of pneumonia). With his mother gone and his sister getting married and moving out a few years later, John was left alone with his father, who was caring but not very affectionate. In that kind of environment young John, a naturally rambunctious boy, began to rebel and get into all sorts of mischief, including shoplifting, vandalism and even stealing coal from train cars and selling it to neighbors. In order to curb his son's wild behavior, as well as to fulfill his own need for companionship, John Sr. married Elizabeth Fields and moved the family back to her hometown of Mooresville, IN, but the change of scenery did little to deter John's behavior. He was still in and out of trouble, and by the time he was 16 he had dropped out of high school and taken a job at a machine shop. Even as a young adult, though, John was irresponsible and in 1921 he was caught by a policeman in Indianpolis trying to steal a car. He managed to elude the officer in a foot pursuit, fled home and joined the Navy. He was assigned to the U.S.S. Utah (a ship that would later be sunk by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor). Unable to stay out of trouble even in the Navy, he soon deserted and returned home, and not long afterwards in 1924 he married Beryl Hovius and took another job. He was a neglectful and sometimes abusive husband and an absentee worker, and hooked up with an ex-con named Ed Singleton. They hatched a plan to mug an elderly grocer named Frank Morgan, who was known to carry his weekly cash and receipts with him to the bank after his store closed on Saturday night. The plan was for John to rob the old man at gunpoint on the street and hop into a getaway car driven by Singleton, which was parked at a nearby curb. However, when John confronted Morgan, the old man fought back, knocking the gun out of John's hand and causing it to fire. Thinking he had accidentally shot the old man (which he hadn't), John fled to the pre-arranged getaway spot, only to find that Singleton wasn't there. He fled on foot but was caught two days later. The incident aroused public indignation, and after a trial and conviction, the judge gave John 10 years for assault with a deadly weapon (he had tried pistol-whipping the old man) and 20 years for attempted robbery, despite the fact that this was John's first crime and he had pleaded guilty and confessed freely to the crime. Embittered, Dillinger vowed revenge.
From the fall of 1933 and into the winter, the gang robbed banks in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin, using Chicago as a base of operations. While living there, John fell for a party girl named Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, who would become his lifelong companion. In December of 1933 the gang decided to take a break from the "heat" caused by law enforcement and went on vacation in Miami. In January of 1934 they decided to temporarily split up, with Pierpont, Clark and Makley heading for Tucson, AZ, and Dillinger and "Red" Hamilton heading back to Chicago. It was there that John committed his one and only murder. During the robbery of the East Chicago (Indiana) bank, an alarm went off, and the arrival of police forced Dillinger and Hamilton to take hostages to escape. As they were leaving the bank, a patrolman named Patrick O'Malley fired at the exposed Dillinger, only to have his bullets bounce of the bandit's bulletproof vest. In a fit of anger, Dillinger--carrying a Thompson submachine gun--shot and killed O'Malley. The resulting gun battle with other officers resulted in Hamilton being wounded before the pair managed to escape. Once Red was tucked away in a safe house where he could get medical aid, Dillinger reunited with the others in Tucson. Unbeknownst to Dillinger, however, Tucson police had taken notice of Pierpont, Makley and Clark, whose fancy clothes, flashy girlfriends and heavy suitcases (which carried their guns and robbery proceeds) aroused their suspicion. When police discovered their true identities they quickly arrested the gang, and when Dillinger arrived in Tucson he was arrested, too. Extradited back to Indiana to stand trial for the murder of Officer O'Malley, Dillinger was found guilty at a lengthy trial (in which his defense was that he wasn't in Chicago at the time), sentenced to death and returned to Michigan City Prison, where he was placed on Death Row. However, in transit to Michigan City he was held overnight at a jail in Crown Point, IN, where he pulled off one of the great jailbreaks of all time by carving a "pistol" out of a bar of soap and coloring it black with shoe polish, fooling his jailers into thinking it was a real gun (adding insult to injury, he escaped in the town sheriff's pers