John Dillinger

Everyone who has seen the movie Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp, now know the story of the man with balls of steel-John Dillinger. The REAL John Dillinger; however, was much more of a bad ass.

Pssh, chump change compared to what he robbed from Central National Bank and Trust Co in Greencastle.

the REAL John Dillinger, just look at that smug look.

Just The Facts

  1. John Dillinger was a criminal who robbed at least two dozen banks as well as a few (four) police stations.
  2. He escaped from jail, twice, but planned over 3 escapes.
  3. He was killed by a bullet to the face.

The Real Story

John Herbert Dillinger was born in 1903 on June 22nd. With his mother's death at age 3, John was raised by his father for a while, before his father remarried. John never liked his stepmother. A troubled teen, he was often on the wrong side of the law. His father even moved his family to a farm in hopes of keeping John out of trouble.

John; however, was determined to be a bad ass and not even some rural farm could keep him out of trouble. After stealing a car, John enlisted in the Navy. Not even the Navy could straighten him out and he got in trouble on the ship and deserted when the ship docked in Boston.

He returned home and married but had a hard time finding a job. He decided to help his friend Ed Singleton rob a grocery store. They stole a meager sum of $120 and were spotted leaving the store. After being arrested, Singleton plead not guilty and got a small amount of time in jail. John, under the advice of his father, plead guilty and received ten to twenty years in prison for assault and battery with intent to rob and conspiracy to commit a felony. Not surprising, John became very bitter with the judicial system.

After eight and a half years, John was paroled and immediately robbed a bank in Bluffton, Ohio. he was arrested and put in the county jail in Lima, Ohio, to await trial. The police found plans in his jail suit that seemed to be an escape plan, but since John denied any knowledge, the put him in jail. Four days later, eight of his friends escaped using those plans. They came back to get him three days later after beating up a guard.

After that escape, John and his gang began robbing banks and police arsenals. Often John would scout out a bank pretending to be a sales person for bank security systems. Other times he and his gang would say that they were filming a bank robbery scene for a movie, and would rob the bank with ease while bystanders watched. John and his gang altogether stole more than $300,000 as well as a large amount of guns from the police and some bullet proof vests.

Dillinger once again escaped from jail, after being told that it was impossible to escape from said jail and once again began his life of crime. The FBI took over the Dillinger case after he drove a stole police car over state lines.

He lived in Chicago with his girlfriend at the time, Evelyn Frechette, also known as Billie. He also teamed up with the likes of Baby Face Nelson, Homer van Meter and Eddie Green. After a firefight with federal agents, Dillinger and the others fled and Dillinger required medical attention. Frechette was arrested and despite Dillinger's attempts, could not be rescued.

He and the other gang member then had a several month period of cat and mouse with the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover assigned Samuel A. Cowley to head the hunt for the gang. Cowley teamed up with Melvin Purvis and together they planned on how to finally catch the wily gangsters. They convinced a madam that Dillinger had dealt with before, Ana Cumpănaş better known as Ana Sage, to inform on him. While Dillinger went to the movies with a prostitute and his girlfriend, Polly Hamilton, the FBI surrounded the theatre. J. Edgar Hoover commanded that the agents wait until after he exited the movie theatre before having a confrontation and to only shoot if he shot first. Dillinger noticed the agents soon after exiting the theatre and fled down an alley. He was shot twice in the chest and once in the back of the neck, which exited just under his eye. The shot proved to be fatal and he died on the scene.

Public Enemies and the Inaccuracies

The most recent movie based on John Dillinger came out summer 2009 starring Johnny Depp. Although the representation of the time period seemed quite accurate, the details concerning John Dillinger's life were not quite so accurate.

The movie begins on the jailbreak in Lima, but inaccurately depicts John escaping along with his criminal friends, this is incorrect as they came back a few days later to break him out.

Dillinger also was one of the first members of his gang to die, most of the others, including Baby Face Nelson were still alive when he died.

The big ambush by the FBI on the house in Little Bohemia actually was a disaster for the FBI, with all of Dillinger's associates escaping alive.

J. Edgar Hoover actually considered Melvin Purvis quite inept and ordered Samuel A. Cowley to take over the investigation long before the attempt in Little Bohemia.

Ana Sage and John Dillinger were not friends, nor had they known each other long before she informed on him.

Dillinger had many lovers, unlike in the film where he only is interested in Billy Frechette.

John Dillinger did not walk into the police headquarters for his investigation aka the Dillinger Squad but actually did walk into a different police station. The man did indeed have balls of steel.