We welcome corrections
CD's - DVD's
Legends' Photo Prints
Ghost Town Prints
Old West Prints
Route 66 Prints
States, Cities &
Photo Art Prints
David Fisk (Lens of
John Dillinger - Page 3
1 2 3
On Sunday, July 22nd, Special Agent Samuel A.
Cowley ordered all agents of the
Chicago office to
stand by for urgent duty. Anna Sage called that evening to confirm the
plans, but she still did not know which theater they would attend.
Therefore, agents and policemen were sent to both theaters. At 8:30 p.m.,
Anna Sage, John Dillinger, and Polly Hamilton strolled into the Biograph
Theater to see Clark Gable in Manhattan Melodrama. Purvis phoned Cowley,
who shifted the other men from the Marbro to the Biograph.
Cowley also phoned Hoover for instructions, who cautioned them to wait
outside rather than risk a shooting match inside the crowded theater. Each
man was instructed not to unnecessarily endanger himself and was told that
if Dillinger offered any resistance, it would be each man for himself.
At 10:30 p.m., Dillinger, with his two female companions on either side,
walked out of the theater. As they walked past the
doorway in which Purvis was standing, the agent lit a cigar as a signal for
the other men to close in. Dillinger quickly realized what was happening
and acted by instinct. He grabbed a pistol from his right trouser pocket
as he ran toward the alley. Five shots were fired from the guns of three
FBI Agents. Three of the shots hit
Dillinger and he fell face down on the
pavement. At 10:50 p.m. on July 22, 1934,
John Dillinger was pronounced
dead in a little room in the Alexian Brothers Hospital.
The Agents who fired at Dillinger were Charles B. Winstead, Clarence O.
Hurt, and Herman E. Hollis. Each man was commended by J. Edgar Hoover for
fearlessness and courageous action. None of them ever said who actually
killed Dillinger. The events of that July night in
the beginning of the end of the Gangster Era. Eventually, 27 persons were
convicted in Federal courts on charges of harboring, and aiding and
abetting John Dillinger and his gang members during their reign of terror.
"Baby Face Nelson" was fatally wounded on November 27, 1934 in a gun
battle with FBI Agents in which Special Agents Cowley and Hollis also were
killed. Dillinger was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis,
From September, 1933, until July, 1934, he and his violent gang killed 10 men
and wounded 7 others.
But, was he really killed, or was it all a
Controversy over Dillingers death-
From the beginning, there were rumors that the
FBI had shot the wrong guy. Instead, some people of the time, as well as
today, believe that the man who was killed was a small-time hood named
Jimmy Lawrence who had been set up to take the hit. Mysteriously, the same
night that Dillinger was allegedly shot, Lawrence disappeared. Eye
witnesses, and even Dillinger's own father, said the dead man was not John
Dillinger. Autopsy reports were questioned and went missing.
Prior to the shooting, John Dillinger was
known to have sometimes used the alias of "Jimmy Lawrence," a man who
coincidentally bore him a striking resemblance. Jimmy Lawrence was a petty
Chicago criminal who had recently moved from Wisconsin. He lived in the
same neighborhood as Dillinger and was known to frequent the Biograph
Theater. After the shooting, a photograph taken from Dillinger's
girlfriend, Polly Hamilton's purse, shows her in the company of a man who
looks like the man killed at the Biograph, which just happens to look very
much like the "real" Jimmy Lawrence. Mysteriously, after Dillinger was
allegedly shot, Jimmy Lawrence was never seen again.
the shooting, the
body was taken to the Cook County morgue for
an autopsy. Though the corpse had a gunshot to the side of the face,
witnesses would say that it did not look like the notorious
gangster, John Dillinger. Furthermore,
the first words from Dillinger's father upon identifying the body were
"that's not my boy." Autopsy reports made no sense. The corpse was too
tall and too heavy, the eye color was wrong, and it possessed a rheumatic
heart, which was not a condition from which Dillinger suffered. Even the
fingerprints on the body didn't match.
The report indicated that the dead man had brown eyes while Dillinger's
were gray. The Cook County medical examiner, Dr. Robert Stein, would say
that the eyes become cloudy after death and that color is sometimes hard
to determine. The report noted that the corpse had a rheumatic heart
condition since childhood; but, Dillinger had served in the Navy, where
his service records showed that his heart was in perfect condition. Known
scars and moles were not reported on the autopsy and the fingerprints
didn't match; but, the FBI said these were altered during plastic surgery.
A close up of the corpse's face showed a full set of front teeth; but, Dillinger was missing his front right incisor. Then the autopsy report
went missing for some 50 years.
Respected crime writer Jay Robert Nash in his book, The Dillinger
Dossier, lays out much information supporting the theory that
Dillinger was not killed. He also contends that
Chicago Police officer
Martin Zarkovich; Louis Piquette, Dillingers' lawyer; his girlfriend,
Polly Hamilton, and her friend, Anna Sage were all involved in the
intricate plot. Might Polly Hamilton have made a date with Jimmy Lawrence
to go to the Biograph, knowing that the FBI was waiting.
Other events also led to questions including
the fact that The Indianapolis Star and the Little Bohemia Lodge
received letters from a sender claiming to be John Dillinger in 1963.
Later, a gun that had been on display for years at the FBI headquarters
that was allegedly used by Dillinger against FBI agents outside of the
Biograph Theater was proven not to belong to him. In fact, it had been
manufactured years after his death. The original gun has never been
The FBI stood by its story, but, the rumors
have long persisted. Some believe the FBI agents covered it up, fearing
the wrath of J. Edgar Hoover, who told them to "get Dillinger or else."
Alternatively, it may have been Hoover himself who was behind the
cover-up. At the time, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was a
relatively new agency and if they had shot the wrong man, it would have
been the third innocent man killed in pursuit of Dillinger.
In 1984, the autopsy records were finally found by an office worker
stuffed in a shopping bag in a corner at the old county morgue. Spurring
renewed interest, an exhumation was even talked about, but, Dillinger's
body had been buried under five feet of concrete and steel. In 2006, the
Discovery Channel explored the case by bringing in a team of experts to
examine the autopsy and other evidence. They concluded that it was, in
fact, John Dillinger who was killed by the FBI.
So, if he lived, what happened to the real John Dillinger? Some claim that he married and moved to Oregon,
disappearing once again in the late 1940's never to be heard from again.
Robert Nash; however, contends that Dillinger moved to California where he
worked as a machinist under what would have been an early form of the
witness protection program.
by Kathy Weiser/Legends
of America, October, 2012.
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Nash, Jay Robert; The Dillinger
Dossier, December Press, 1983
I don't smoke much, and I
drink very little. I guess my only
bad habit is robbing banks.
-- John Dillinger
History of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Prohibition and Depression Era Gangsters
1 2 3
From Legends' Photo Shop
Style Photo Prints - What were on the walls of
West? Most of the time, it was similar as what you might find
advertisements for liquor, beer, and tobacco. But,
Wild West days, the
walls were often filled with images of
"decadent" women of the time. In our
Photo Print Shop, you'll find dozens of images for decorating a real
saloon or western themed restaurant, or your person home bar in a