This Day In History: John Dillinger is Killed (1934).

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Outside a Chicago’s Movie Theatre, the notorious criminal John Dillinger was killed in a hail of bullets. His crimes had earned him the title of America’s “Public Enemy No. 1″. No less that the FBI referred to him as Public Enemy No 1.

In a little over a year, he had robbed twelve banks and had been involved in the killing of seven police officers. He had evaded all attempts to capture him.

John Dillinger was born in Indiana, in 1903, to a poor family, who were very respectable.  As a teenager, he had been arrested for mugging a man. Arrested he pleaded guilty at his trial and he received a sentence  of 10 to 20 years, hard labour in a Reformatory. Dillinger tried to escape from this prison many attempts. While in prison, he joined a gang of bank robbers who showed him all their tricks and shared their knowledge of crime with him.

In 1933 he was released and he met up with the gang of robbers. His plan was to rob enough money to get the rest of the gang and its leader Pierpoint, out of prison. He and the gang began to commit many armed robberies. Dillinger was a handsome and well-dressed young man and he instantly became famous because of the reports of his crimes in the newspapers.

Later he planned  to free some of his old prison buddies from jail.

However, just days before the jailbreak was scheduled to occur, Dillinger was arrested in  Ohio.  His friends did manage to free themselves and eventually came back to release Dillinger from jail in Dayton. Dillinger and the rest robbed a police arsenal in Wisconsin.

They later moved to Arizona to lay low. However, they were apprehended and Dillinger was sent back to Indiana. However, using a fake gun he managed to escape.

John_Dillinger_grave
John Dillinger’s grave

Dillinger traveled to Chicago and formed a new gang featuring “Baby Face” Nelson. They began to rob more banks. Nelson was a cold-hearted killer who once worked for Al Capone.

In April, the Dillinger gang went to hide out at a resort in Wisconsin, here they managed to evade the FBI after a shoot-out.

Dillinger and his gang split up and he headed for Chicago.

In Chicago, he lived in a safe house and got a facelift to conceal his identity. He also burned his fingertips to disguise his fingerprints.

A brothel owner who was a friend of Dillinger betrayed him to the FBI.

 Dillinger and his then girlfriend went to see a gangster movie at a popular cinema, the Biography  theatre around the corner from her house.As Dillinger left the cinema he was gunned down by some twenty FBI agents.

There were persistent stories that it was not Dillinger who had been shot but that he had lived for many years in obscurity, hiding from the FBI.

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