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John Dillinger-related data



''Til shoot my way out," sneered Desperado John Dillinger when after his ignominious capture in Tucson, Ariz., he was brought back to Indiana and locked up in Crown Point's jail to be tried for murder (TIME, Feb. 5).
Sheriff Lillian Holley, mistress of Crown Point's escape-proof jail, also made a promise: "I know he's a bad baby and a jailbreaker but I can handle him." The sheriff meant to keep her promise, but Dillinger's promise was a shrewd piece of bluff. For weeks he sat in his cell doing nothing but whittle a small piece of wood with a razor blade.

One morning last week Turnkey Sam Cahoon was distributing soap to the prisoners taking morning exercise. Suddenly, Dillinger's stick of wood, whittled into the shape of a pistol and blacked with shoe polish, poked into Turnkey Cahoon's back. Cowed by the wooden weapon, he yielded up the jail's keys, was forced to call the deputy sheriff, who called the warden. Within 15 minutes Dillinger had 33 trusties, prisoners, jailers, wardens and special guards locked securely in the cells.

With the way to freedom wide open Dillinger invited fellow prisoners to take it with him. "Go to hell! I wouldn't walk two feet with you," replied his cellmate. Herbert Youngblood, a Negro in for murder, alone accepted. They selected two machine guns from the jail arsenal, and, taking Deputy Ernest Blunk as hostage, went to the jail garage. They could not start the two cars there. Dillinger tore out ignition wires. Once over an eight foot wall, with Blunk between them, Dillinger and Youngblood made their way to a garage whose owner was foreman of the Grand Jury which indicted Dillinger. There stood Sheriff Lillian Holley's new Ford V8 sedan, equipped with red headlights, a siren, a short-wave radio set and decorated with the sheriff's badge. With Blunk at the wheel, and another hostage, the two fugitives set off across country.

Some minutes later Sheriff Lillian, reclining on her divan in her home, got the news by telephone. All but hysterical she called police headquarters at nearby Gary: ''Rush all the police and guns you can get hereóDillinger's loose!" It took more than an hour to find keys to release the imprisoned jailers. Toward noon Deputy Blunk called by long distance to say that the jailbreakers had released him and the garageman near Peotone, Ill., about 25 miles away, giving them $4 for carfare and a cigaret each.

Sheriff Holley distractedly cried to badgering newshawks: "If I ever see John Dillinger, I'll shoot him dead with my own pistol. This is too ridiculous to talk about." Meantime three of Dillinger's confederates, arrested with him at Tucson and waiting in jail at Lima, Ohio, heard of his escape, speedily dressed in their best clothes so as to be ready when he came to deliver them.
[Time Magazine, Monday, Mar. 12, 1934 - submitted by K. Torp]



Last week a jury at Lima, Ohio condemned Harry Pierpont to the electric chair for shooting the town sheriff in freeing Desperado John Dillinger from Lima's jail last October. Last week in Crown Point, Ind., Deputy Sheriff Blunk and Turnkey Cahoon were arrested, charged with deliberately aiding Desperado Dillinger to bluff his way out of Crown Point's jail fortnight ago with a wooden gun. Last week in Chicago police, chasing automobiles believed to contain Desperado Dillinger, were twice halted by machine gun fire. But these alarms and excursions were less serious to many a politician than the repercussions of Dillinger's escape.

Said a judge in Crown Point: "This case is beginning to smell." The resignation of Sheriff Lillian Holley, from whose jail Dillinger escaped, was demanded by the county board which threatened to appeal to Governor McNutt if she refused. Democrats throughout Indiana feared that the public reaction to Dillinger's escape would cost their party a fat wad of votes in the next election. Ridicule, most dangerous of all political weapons, was already at work. A Captain of the State Police received a book entitled How to Be a Detective.

In Washington Attorney General Cummings pointed disgustedly at a newspicture of Desperado Dillinger clubbily grouped with Sheriff Holley and Crown Point's Prosecutor Estill (see cut). The photograph was taken six weeks ago when Dillinger was first brought back to Crown Point's jail after his capture in Arizona. Snorted "General" Cummings:

"That's the sort of thing that makes the enforcement of laws difficult. If they had been Federal officials when the picture was taken, they would not be now. I would remove them in ten minutes. This shows a complete lack of a sense of responsibility or of propriety and common sense. The negligence of these people may result in the death of some honest person. . . ."
[Time Magazine, Monday, Mar. 19, 1934 - submitted by K. Torp]



For months the Midwest has cringed under a reign of terror. For every kidnapping and extortion reported in the Press, perhaps a dozen others went unrecorded as respectable citizens had their first terrifying contact with crime and kept mum about it. Last week a new chapter in the history of Midwest crime was being forced upon them, a chapter less terrifying to most men individually, but one that reached unmatched heights of daredevil ruthlessness. It was the third chapter in the career of Desperado John Dillinger.

First chapter of the Dillinger career was the sordid story of a boy gone wrong. In 1924 he began with petty robbery, was identified after a grocery store hold-up at Mooresville outside of Indianapolis. For that he got a sentence of from 10 to 20 years. And the chapter ended with him in the Indiana State Penitentiary after he had proved too tough a customer to be handled in the reformatory.

Chapter No. 2 began last May when, thanks to the intercession of his honest farmer father and the judge who sentenced him, he was set free and went home. But prison had not cured him, for now his friends were the hardest of hard criminals. He resumed his career with petty robberies in Indianapolis, got enough cash to buy a fast car and guns, turned to bank robbing for which his contempt for human life fitted him. Within three months after his release from prison three banks alone yielded him over $40,000. With his new wealth and daring he plotted the release of his jailbird cronies whom he supplied with smuggled arms. Four days before their successful break at Michigan City, the police caught him in a woman's apartment in Indianapolis. He was sent to Lima, Ohio for trial on a bank robbery charge. Two weeks later on a favor for favor basis his pals raided the Lima jail, killed a sheriff and freed him.

Thus in four short months John Dillinger had become a famed desperado, a bad man no jail could hold and police everywhere were hunting him. In November they caught him coming out of a doctor's office in Chicago but he drove away through a hail of bullets. He began raiding small-town police stations in Indiana for arms and bullet-proof vests while his bank robberies multiplied. Then with his plunder he dropped out of sight until last January when officers arrested him and three of his gang, quietly vacationing in Tucson, Ariz. (TIME, Feb. 5). Chapter No. 2 ended with his return by air to Crown Point, Ind. to face a murder charge for a policeman killed in an East Chicago (Ind.) bank robbery.

The end of the third and most amazing chapter last week held the Midwest enthralled. That chapter began on March 3 when, with a wooden gun, John Dillinger bluffed his way out of jail at Crown Point, escaped in the woman sheriff's car, taking a negro murderer named Herbert Youngblood with him. (At Port Huron, Mich. Fugitive Youngblood fatally wounded a sheriff before he himself was killed.) From Crown Point in seven weeks Dillinger's bullet-strewn trail wound and rewound through half a dozen states (see map). He arrived in St. Paul with a shoulder wound, got a city health officer to redress it. Few days later three Federal agents trapped him in a St. Paul apartment with his sweetheart, Evelyn Frechette. Whipping out a machine gun, he sprayed his way to freedom but not before he had been pinked just above the knee. At the point of a gun he forced another doctor to treat him and stayed three days in the home of a nurse before resuming his travels. These finally took him back to Mooresville and his old father's home where he ate a quiet Sunday dinner with the family.*

At Sault Ste. Marie his pursuers were only three days behind their man. At Mercer, Wis. they actually caught up with him. There Dillinger and five of his henchmen, with three women, had rendezvoused in a roadhouse called Little Bohemia. Federal officers advanced on it in the night. Two big collies bayed a warning to its inmates. The Federals rushed forward. Three strangers, driving away in a car, failed to stop on command. Federal guns blazed. One man fell dead, two wounded, but none of them was Dillinger. From Little Bohemia came a machine gun volley and, behind it. Dillinger & gang made their getaway through a back window. Later one Federal agent crossed their trail and was shot dead. After that the north woods swallowed them.

Assistant Attorney General Joseph B. Keenan, chief-of-staff of the Federal war on crime, whose men captured and convicted notorious Harvey Bailey. Urschel kidnapper, thumped his desk wrathfully in Washington and declaimed:

"I don't know where or when we will get Dillinger, but we will get him. And you can say for me that I hope we will get him under such circumstances that the Government won't have to stand the expense of a trial."

Yet last week the army of the Law, 5,000 strong, seemed no closer than it had been before to John Dillinger & Co. In the woods of northern Wisconsin George (''Baby Face") Nelson stayed three days in the hut of Ollie Catfish, a Chippewa, and the Federals got on his trail after he had left. In a swamp nearby, the Federals went gunning for another gangster whom they were "sure" they had surrounded. At a bank hold-up in Chicago, another member of the gang, Homer van Meter, was "identified." In another suburb three policemen overtook a car, were promptly covered by machine guns and disarmed by men who they were "positive" were members of the gang. "It was Dillinger, all right." said one. But where Desperado Dillinger was or how he would strike next or even whether he yet lived no man knew.

*On this visit Dillinger had dyed his hair red. This was exceedingly embarrassing to a student at the University of Indiana who is red-haired and of Dillinger's approximate height and weight, who was reared at Martinsville only 18 miles from Mooresville and whose own name is also John Dillinger. Honest John Dillinger is no kin to Desperado John Dillinger.
[Time Magazine, Monday, May. 07, 1934 - submitted by K. Torp ]


One Democrat not renominated in last week's Indiana primaries was Robert G. Estill, Attorney for Lake County. His opponent, Fred A. Egan, circulated the notorious picture of Attorney Estill with his arm around John Dillinger before the desperado's jail break at Crown Point, a picture which Attorney General Cummings in Washington denounced as showing "a complete lack of sense of responsibility or propriety." The citizens of Lake County did the rest.
[Time Magazine, Monday, May. 21, 1934 - submitted by K. Torp]


The ghost of the late John Dillinger haunted two contests in last fortnight's elections. At Lima, Ohio, Democratic Acting Sheriff Don Sarber was running to keep the job of his late father, Sheriff Jess Sarber who was killed when Desperado Dillinger's friends released him from the Lima jail in October 1933. A Republican got Don Sarber's father's job.

At Crown Point, Ind., from whose jail Desperado Dillinger walked out last March with the help of a wooden pistol, Democrat Carroll Holley was running to succeed as sheriff his aunt Lillian Holley who had been unable to keep her most famed prisoner (TIME, March 12). He won.
[Time Magazine, Monday, Nov. 19, 1934 - submitted by K. Torp]


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