(June 22, 1903 - July 22, 1934)

NOTE: The John Dillinger Historical Crime Museum is a Tribute, dedicated to the memory of the late Joe Pinkston. Pinkston was considered a "Top Notch" investigator for the Pinkerton's Detective Agency and an authority of criminals like John Dillinger. He was also the prietor of the John Dillinger Historical Wax Museum and a rare memorabilia collector. Joe Pinkston devoted his life to the preservation of historical artifacts and the investigation of depression era criminals. in fact he interviewed more eye-witnesses and those involved with Dillinger than any other historian on record. This was a feat that cannot be dublicated, because most of the survivors of the 1930s have since passed on. I applaud Mr. Pinkston and his memory. 


This is a free site that includes a combination of pictures, memorabilia and facts on the life and times of John Herbert Dillinger, public enemy number one. If you have any questions or comments you can contact the author at email address: Thank you.




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Author Tony Stewart presents the all new “Dillinger, The Hidden Truth - RELOADED!” This UPDATED VERSION about Public Enemies of the 1920’s and 1930’s, which includes a face-lift with a new Dillinger Print courtesy of Andy Thomas of Maze Creek Studio.

These fascinating details on celebrity criminals from the early years to the end of the line include Al Capone, Bonnie & Clyde, the Barker-Karpis gang, Machine gun Kelly, Pretty Boy Floyd and America’s favorite at the time, John Dillinger. Dillinger’s unlawful reputation would triumph and soar upward to become a giant in his trade far above all others, only to end fourteen short months later; his legacy would sketch to a halt after a tragic bloody end in a dark Chicago alley.

The outlaw’s death would mark the FBI's first major victory and become the step¬ping stone to their success, which allowed the Bureau to flourish into the respected agency they have become today. During his career, Dillinger participated in three gangs and was involved in a string of bank robberies across the country. He successfully escaped several Police and FBI traps, broke out of two jails, raided three Police stations and helped to mastermind the biggest escape to date from the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City.

The minds of criminals have always amazed and intrigued Americans. One can wonder about the motives for days of these. As a mental health advocate, Cynthia Telles has worked on the National Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and has been on the Presidential Task Force on Health Care Reform. Her work in the mental health sector has advanced our understanding of psychiatry.

He was a clever criminal marked with originality, showmanship and style. One of Dillinger’s greatest qualities was his amazing ability to remain cool and calm, no matter how hot a situation would become. Within months of his release from prison, Dillinger became a household name, as well as America's most desired outlaw. His unpredictable moves throughout his short-lived career, kept law officials confused like an old ford blinded by a gusty cloud of dust on a lonely dirt road.

Whether it was at the State fair, a baseball game, a picture show, a family reunion or sitting in the Chicago Police Department reading a newspaper only a few feet away, Dillinger was always right there hiding in plain site. Police and law officials were outraged as the slippery bandit continued to outfox and outwit them at every turn.

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CRIME ERA 1920's - 30's Special Edition












THESIS: This document is about John Dillinger and his gang of outlaws in 1933-34.


During his brief career, Dillinger participated in three gangs and was involved in a string of bank robberies across the country, stealing well over three hundred thousand dollars in cash from banks across five states. He successfully escaped several Police and FBI traps, broke out of two jails, raided three Police departments, successfully stealing all his weapons and he helped to mastermind the biggest escape ever from the Indiana State Penitentiary at Michigan City.
The minds of criminals have always amazed and intrigued Americans. 


Tony Stewart, Author -

Dillinger, The Hidden Truth -








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John Dillinger- A few facts about the clever mind behind the bank robber


He was often referred to as Johnnie by family and friends. Those who knew Johnnie best, described him as a person with a sincere kindness and a cunning sense of humor. He was a bit of a practical joker with a unpredictable yet daring demeanor. With a IQ level between 110 to 135, he was also an outlaw with originality and cleverness . Dillinger was a compassionite criminal who presented courage and bravery in battle. Prison life had changed Dillinger and educated him from amateur crook to a professional bank robber.


After John Dillinger was paroled from Michigan City on May 22, 1933, he returned to Mooresville, Indiana. He took a good look at his father's aging face and callused hands, and decided he didn't want any part this lifestyle. The hard work of farming wasn't an easy life, nor was it profitable during the great depression era. John Dillinger Sr. was not only a a farmer. but was also a highly respected and noble deacon of the local Quaker Church in Mooresville, Indiana. After Dillinger's release from prison, he began attending church, but soon became angered when other church goers of the community openingly condemned him, because he had a criminal record. The bitterness towards society he carried within began to grow.


John Dillinger cared for his father, but couldn't see himself ending up another poor struggling farmer. Dillinger once commented. "I made more money in ten minutes than my father did his entire life." He became a legend that was admired by both the criminals and lawmen who persued him. Even J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI took notice of John Dillinger's cleverness and secretly admired him.
The critics will hate this one, but John Dillinger wasn't a cold-blooded killer as he is often portrayed. Dillinger was suspected of one murder, but was never convicted, therefore we can't rightfully call him a murderer. You are not guilty of a crime until you are convicted. That is the law. Innocent until proven guilty.
He was well-known for hiding in plain site, right in front of the noses of cops. It was all a game to Dillinger and he was winning. He may have continued winning, if he hadn't been set up my a trusted friend called "The Lady in Red."


Warren Oates1

Above: 1973, Warren Oates playing Dillinger.

History has recorded John Dillinger as the leader of the Dillinger gang, but actually the gang had no leader. Each member of the gang often took turns running the show during each robbery. The gangsters usually double parked their cars on the side street just outside the bank, just before closing time. Two men remained outside, and one man stayed by the car, while another was stationed just outside by the front door to traffic control. The third man is stationed just inside lobby by front door to stop any customers entering. The other two men spread out on opposite sides of the bank and Dillinger yells out, "This is a stick up! Everyone on their stomach's, now!"

In the excitement of a robbery, Dillinger known to wink at the women and assure them in a calm trusting voice, that every would be all right. The gang robberies would go like "Clock Work" appling military precision and timed planning, to a science. With a click of a gold pocket watch, the outlaw stationed in the lobby yells out, "Three minutes counting down." The bank President is quickly ushered off to the bank's vault, while another robber cleans out the cash register drawers.

Then the lobby man yells out "One minute." Suddenly, the police arrive and take positions surrounding the bank.

Even with police outside, the gang to takes their time and gets all the money. They grab a dozen hostages and exit bank. Wise police officers do not fire a shot in fear of hitting the hostages.  The hostages are ordered to stand on the running boards, and Dillinger apologizes to them for the inconvenience.

During the ride, outlaw Charley Makley curses out some hostile swearing words. Dillinger warns him not curse, adding that there are ladies present. The ladies are charmed by Dillinger's nerve and mannerism. He lets them off safely just out of town and gives them bus fare to get home.

The gang drives to another secluded location to switch cars and spit up for a while, until things cool down to a simmer. The made bank robbery look like a stroll in the park, with a calmness and peacefulness of a silent spring night .



Baby John - 7S

John Herbert Dillinger was born on June 22, 1903, in Indianapolis. The proud parents were John Wilson Dillinger (a grocery store owner) and Mollie Lancaster. John Dillinger was the couples second child, his sister Audrey Dillinger was born 1889. She was fourteen years older than her new brother. John’s father owned a small grocery store not far from home, located at 2210 Bloyd Avenue and four houses.


Audrey-John - 7S


When young Johnnie Dillinger was only three years old, his mother became very ill and was hospitalized in 1906. She had developed serious health problems, suffered a stroke, underwent surgery and died soon thereafter. Audrey had married a few months before her mother’s death and had children of her own, but she tried to help out raising young Johnnie on occasions.

Dillinger Home

After the loss of his mother, Johnnie Dillinger was often seen hanging out at his father’s grocery store. He became a lonely confused and sad child without his mother. John Sr. was said to be very strict, he was a busy man trying to raise a child, run a grocery store and was the Deacon of a neighboor church. The child would receive visits from his sister and grandfather Mathias from time to time. His sister Audrey tried to teach Johnnie to play the piano, but he eventally lost interest. 

At age five, young Johnnie Dillinger entered school at Public School 38, in Oak Hill. He was described by his teachers as an average student, very well behaved and occasionally getting into trouble, but no more than any of the other kids. When Johnnie was about nine years old his father gave him a job helping out at the store.  Johnnie was well known by children in the district for always having enough money to buy everyone candy treats.

Overall, young Johnnie Dillinger was a good kid who had a descent childhood, and usually appeared to be happy in family pictures. Most neighbors described Johnnie as a cheery friendly teenager, polite and well mannered. As a teenager, Johnnie attended School P.S.55, on Seventeenth and Sheldon streets, but it didn't take long before he began to lose interest in school, periodically skipping classes to go fishing or hang out with friends.At age 16, he  dropped out to work at a machine shop in Indianapolis. His father became concerned about his son, who was staying out through all hours of the night, and was caught stealing watermelon, chickens and coal from the railroads freight cars that he sold to residents.

One of John Dillinger's biggest pranks was when he tied a rope around a neighbors rose trellis, attaching the other end to the Interurban trolley car.

When the Interurban took off the rose trellis broke into pieces, leaving a terrible mess of the neighbor's roses.  By 1912, John's father courted and married Elizabeth Fields of Mooresville, a small town South of Indianapolis.  Accorded to John Sr., his son resented his stepmother at first, but later grew to love her.

JD Farm - 7S


By the time John turned eleven years old, he had a half brother named Hubert, born in 1914, and a half sister named Doris, born in 1916. John was three months shy of his seventeenth birthday when the family moved to Mooresville. He had given up, and quit school one year prior to the move.


By 1920, John’s father decided to sell his Grocery store and houses and move to the Mooresville. He purchased a sixty-seven acre farmhouse, just off Highway 267. The elder Dillinger figured that farm life would be good for young John, and perhaps keep him out of trouble. John Dillinger had no interest in farm life, but did enjoy hunting, and would spend many hours out in the woods with the family dog. He was a fairly good shot; his prey would consist of rabbits, squirrels, and possums. Entertainment around Mooresville was limited to a pool hall, a movie theater, and baseball field. John began coming home late in the evenings, and sometimes didn’t come home at all. It seemed the more the elder Dillinger corrected his son, the worse the situation grew. John spent most of his evenings at pool halls in Mooresville and Martinsville. While in Martinsville, he began dating a seventeen-year-old named Frances Thornton. Frances was the stepdaughter of Everett Dillinger, who was John's uncle. Everett did not approve of the relationship. He had his own plans for his daughter's future, and John wasn't a part of it. John soon asked Frances for her hand in marriage, but Everett disapproved and ordered his daughter to stop seeing him. Young Dillinger was heartbroken; he became bitter.


Sometime afterwards, Dillinger stole a car that belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Macy of Mooresville.  

The couple was attending church services, and soon discovered their car was missing. The car was reported stolen, and the couple found a ride home with friends of the church. This was the very same church John attended with his father on many occasions. He drove the car to Indianapolis for a joy ride, then abandoned the on a side of the road. Around midnight a policeman spotted him walking the streets, and decided to question him. Nervously, he told the officer his real name, and stated he had driven in from Mooresville earlier in the evening. He took the officer straight to the stolen car, then suddenly broke free and ran. John was scared; he knew car thief was a serious crime. This was officially John’s first crime, but the Macy's had refused to press charges.


military - 7S


John feared the worst and thought he was going to jail; he panicked and joined the navy. After successfully completing basic training, he was stationed aboard a battleship, the U.S.S. Utah. He was listed as a Fireman Third Class. The U.S.S. Utah was scheduled to ship out in three weeks, but when the departure date arrived; Dillinger failed to show up for duty. He was listed as a deserter, and was soon court-martialed. John had grown tired of the navy life, and the strict discipline; he headed back to Mooresville with a fifty-dollar reward on his head. The navy would later drop charges and issue a dishonorable discharge. Back in Mooresville, he began hanging out at the pool hall, attending parties, and playing baseball.

John & Beryl

JOHN DILLINGER MARRIED 17 YEAR OLD - BERYL HOVIOUS 1924 (Photo colorization and effects by Kimberly Stewart)


Dillinger began courting a young lady named Beryl Hovious. She would soon become his wife; they were married on April 12, 1924. Dillinger settled down for a while, he found a job and enjoyed the marriage life. He joined a Martinsville baseball team called the Atletics (AC); he was noted as a good second baseman, and a shortstop. John and Beryl soon became good friends with another baseball team player named William Edgar Singleton, a team member who would also umpire for the team on occasions.


He was known by other team players as Ed Singleton. Singleton was ten years older than Dillinger and had served time in prison for armed robbery. He was also known as the town drunk by residents of Mooresville. One night, Dillinger and Singleton met at the Mooresville pool hall and celebrated with a jug of corn liquor, also known as moonshine. Dillinger was probably influenced to have a drink by Singleton, because his wife Beryl later said in an interview with author 7ony Stewart, that John never drank while they were together.

Morgans Store - 7S


The two soon became intoxicated and Singleton presented a plan to rob a sixty-five-year-old grocer named Frank Morgan, the owner of the West End Grocery Store located at 135 West High Street. He had convinced an intoxicated Dillinger that it would be easy money. This attempted robbery occurred on September 6, 1924 and would turn out to be a complete failure. Dillinger hid by the steps of the Mooresville Christian Church, while Singleton waited in the getaway car. It was after 10 p.m., when Morgan came walking up the street and passed by the church steps.

Dillinger jumped out of the shadows, and hit Morgan over the head with a heavy bolt wrapped in a handkerchief. Dillinger attempted to pull out a revolver. Morgan knocked the gun out of his hands and it accidentally discharged as the weapon hit the ground. No one was hurt, but the sound of gunfire and Morgan’s pleas for help woke up nearby neighbors. Singleton fled as soon as the shot was fired, leaving Dillinger behind to flee on his own. He fled on foot and headed back to Mooresville. At the time no one was aware of Dillinger’s involvement, but he had made his way back to the local pool hall, and asking questions about whether Morgan had been hurt or not. The incident was reported to police, and Dillinger soon was arrested. However, when questioned, Dillinger denied any involvement in the crime. Dillinger was scared and he confided in his father, who told him to tell the truth. Dillinger's father, a deacon of the local Mooresville Church, decided to speak to the prosecutor of Martinsville on the matter. He was told; since this was John's first offense he would get off with probation if he came clean.


John listened to his father’s advice and pleaded guilty to the crime. B.F. Morgan had known John Dillinger since he was a little boy, and always considered him a good kid. Morgan had received eleven stitches in his head from the incident. Confident of the outcome, after talking with the Prosecutor, Dillinger’s father didn't hire a lawyer, nor did he go to court with John. Judge William’s did just the opposite of what the Prosecutor had told the elder Dillinger. As John stood before the Judge, and pleaded guilty, Judge William’s threw the book at him. The trial only lasted five minutes; he was sentenced on two concurrent charges, receiving Two to fourteen years, and Ten to twenty years at the Indiana State Reformatory with an additional fine of $200.00. He was removed from the Martinsville Courtroom in handcuffs, and transported to the Morgan County Jail.

Martinsville JAIL 7S


In the Morgan County Jail Dillinger was locked in an 8 by 8-foot cell, where he sat, confused about what happened. His father had promised him that he'd be home in a few hours. The court sentenced him without any legal representation or a public defender on his behalf.



Dillinger had even agreed to testify against Singleton, as a witness for the prosecution, which usually offered a bargain for a lighter sentence in return for testimony. After learning of Dillinger’s harsh sentence, Singleton went into court better prepared. He hired a lawyer and requested a new Judge. The Courts over looked the fact that Singleton had a prior record for armed robbery, and had a prior prison record. He pleaded guilty at his attorney’s advice, and received a sentence of two to fourteen years. He was paroled in less than two years. Dillinger felt betrayed, and couldn’t understand why the courts gave him such a harsh sentence. Looking at the facts, Singleton was an ex-con who had served six years for armed robbery. This attempted robbery was premeditated by Singleton. He had been studying Morgan’s daily routines and knew precisely, and knew when Morgan would appear with the profits of the week. Singleton needed an accomplice to complete his plan.

His choice was John Dillinger. Singleton had offered him some good moonshine, and later, persuaded him to rob Morgan. Dillinger’s testimony for the prosecution should have offered leniency for a lighter sentence. Upon arriving at the Indiana State Reformatory at Pendleton, Dillinger told one of the guards; if Singleton receives a lesser sentence, he (Dillinger) would be the meanest son of a bitch, anyone had ever seen. Years later, on August 31, 1937, Singleton would die as he fell asleep on the Pennsylvania railroad tracks. Hansel Sawyers, a friend of Singleton, was the last man to see him alive. Pieces of Singleton’s body were found 80 feet from where he met his demise. One man reported finding a leg in the road. After Dillinger’s release in 1933, he would keep his promise.

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             Dillinger became prisoner 13225. Background Indiana State Penitentiary. Photo created by Tony Stewart.






Dillinger was transported back and fourth to court during Singleton's trial. On one occasion, on the return trip back to Pendleton, Dillinger made another attempt to escape. Deputy Sheriff Russell Peterson was transporting Dillinger, and decided to treat him to a soda. As the two sat down in a restaurant, Dillinger suddenly tipped the table over on the deputy, and fled out the door. The deputy ran after him, pulled his gun and fired a shot with his .25 caliber automatic pistol. Dillinger ran down a dead-end alley, with nowhere to run he reluctantly gave up.                                                        

Records at Pendleton indicated that Dillinger's behavior was not improving. He was constantly in trouble for gambling; fighting, and was involved in several escape attempts. He was repeatedly placed in solitary confinement for disobeying prison rules. He began to make friends with other inmates, one of which was Harry Pierpont, a bank robber who became a big influence on Dillinger, with his impressing nerve and leadership qualities. He was doing time several bank robberies and an attempted car thief and attempted murder after he shot the owner four times. The man survived and Pierpont was sent to Prison. He was later released, but continued his bank-robbing career until he was captured in Detroit, Michigan and sentenced to the Indiana Reformatory on May 6, 1925. The two became good friends, but before long Pierpont was transferred to Michigan City Penitentiary.  

Another friend, was Homer Van Meter, he was serving time for a train robbery. Van Meter had an anchor tattoo on his inner forearm, with a banner containing the word “Hope.” Pierpont couldn't stand Van Meter, but Dillinger liked them both. A few weeks later Van Meter would also be transferred to Michigan City.  

In one of John Dillinger’s letters to Beryl written on August 18, 1928, he wrote: 


<sic>“My dearest wife:Received your sweet letter Tuesday eve, the only one this week and I’m still waiting for that interview. Gee honey I would like to see you. Hubert wrote last week I would sure like to see him if he wants to come see me let me know and I will send him the carfare. In another letter he wrote: Dearest we will be so happy when I come home to you and chase your sorrows away…. and it won’t take any kids to keep me home with you always for sweetheart I love you so all I want to do is just be with you and make you happy. I wonder if I will get an interview Monday. I sure hope so for I am drying to see you, darling have some pictures taken every time I see you, you look dearer and sweeter to me so I want late pictures now say rassberries, but honey it’s the truth…. You can imagine what disappointment it was to me when you didn’t come on your birthday. I’ve been crossed as bear ever since…. Lots of love and kisses to the sweetest little wife in the world.” <end sic>               

Dillinger’s wife Beryl would frequently visit him, but her visits began to slow down and eventually stopped. Her letters indicated that things were not going well between the couple. To make matters worse, Audrey; John’s older sister began attacking Beryl for her lack of visits to John. Beryl tried to explain that she was having a hard time acquiring money for car fair, but Audrey refused to listen. The attacks continued until Beryl decided to file for a divorce. The divorce was granted by Judge Chester Vernon on the grounds that Dillinger incarcerated in the State prison, and unable to provide.  Soon afterwards, Dillinger went before the parole board, and was denied his plea for freedom. During this hearing, Dillinger surprised the board by asking for a transfer to Michigan City Penitentiary. He told the board that Michigan City had a real baseball team, and he wanted to play ball. The odd request was granted, and Dillinger was transferred October 29, 1929, the very same day that the stock market crashed. Dillinger's reasoning for the transfer to Michigan City was to get back with his old friends Pierpont, Charley Makley, and Van Meter. Michigan City was about a hundred miles further than Pendleton was; this meant fewer visits from family and friends. Michigan City became a school for criminals looking for a career in crime, and John Dillinger became a good student.

 Through Harry Pierpont, Dillinger would meet professional bank robbers such as John Hamilton, Russell Clark, and Charles Makley. These men would all become future members of the Dillinger gang.  John Hamilton had been involved in several banks in Michigan and Indiana. Hamilton had successfully robbed the Kent State Savings Bank of Grand Rapids, Michigan bank of $22,500 on January 3,1927. A former policeman of Fordson, Michigan, named Raymond Lawrence had also participated in the robbery. Lawrence and Hamilton’s luck finally ran out when they attempted to rob a South Bend State bank in Indiana on March 15. After casing the bank for several days the two made their move. They waited for the janitor Clifton Barton to open the bank doors at 6 a.m.; they forced their way in and bound him.  Then they waited for bank employees to arrive. At 7:30 a.m., Kenneth Shirk, the bookkeeper arrived, and told the bandit’s that the vault couldn’t be opened until 8 a.m. Hamilton and Lawrence both decided the wait would be worth it.

 As more employees arrived, Hamilton ordered assistant cashier G.M. Broadhurst to let them in. As he did, Broadhurst ran out the door and across the street, where he sounded off an alarm to the Police. The outlaws had $125,000 dollars in their grasp, but fearing capture they decided to flee after the alarm went off. They jumped into a Chevrolet coupe, (stolen prior to the robbery) and drove a short distance where they changed cars. As planned, they jumped into Lawrence’s Nash sedan, and drove to an apartment belonging to William Hamilton, John Hamilton’s brother.  To cover their tracks, the two decided to change the license plates on the car. A neighbor watched them changing the plates; he became suspicious, and contacted the police. The Police arrested the two without a conflict. When questioned, Hamilton denied any involvement with the robbery. Hamilton finally confessed, after overwhelming evidence from Lawrence’s signed confession, damaging statements made by Mrs. Lawrence, and Hamilton’s wife, and several eyewitnesses from the bank positively identified them as the robbers. Hamilton reluctantly signed a full confession.

After the confessions were signed, both women were released.  The very next day Hamilton and Lawrence were sentenced to twenty-five years in prison, the maximum sentence. The policemen who captured the outlaws received one hundred dollars reward, which they donated to the police pension fund. Hamilton went to prison, leaving behind his wife and two small children. Charles Makley had been involved in several bank robberies in Ohio, including the Bank of Linn Glove on March 24, 1927, where two armed bandits made off with two thousand in cash. The bandit’s were apprehended two days later in South Bend, Indiana. They were arrested after they tried to sell a loaded revolver to a restaurant owner, who contacted the authorities. Police realized the two men fit the descriptions of the Linn Grover robbers, and the cashier of the bank soon identified them.                                                                   

On June 23, 1928, Makley was sentenced to a 10 to 21-year prison term in the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City. Makley’s sister-in-law, Edith Makley, was arrested for her involvement because she had driven the outlaw to the bank. She was released without any charges filed after Makley stated that she had nothing to do with the robbery. Russell Clark was serving time for several robberies, including the robbery of the Huntertown State Bank on December 8, 1927. Clark and an accomplice named Charles Hovious walked into the bank, and asked the cashier, Horace Tucker to change a five-dollar bill. Clark pulled out a .38 caliber double action revolver and told Tucker to “Stick’em up.” They quickly grabbed $1,312 in cash, and headed out the door. As the bandit’s fled, Tucker grabbed a gun out of a desk drawer and opened fire.  A brief gun battle erupted until the outlaws jumped into a nearby car and drove off. As a posse quickly caught up to them, the robbers abandoned their car and fled on foot through the woods. Officers searched the woods for hours before locating Hovious and arrested him without resistance.

Clark lasted throughout the night, but was eventually found hiding in a barn where he surrendered. The two bandits were given two consecutive sentences of 15 and 20 years. Hovious was sent to Indiana Reformatory, and Clark was sent to the Indiana State Prison at Michigan City. Dillinger and his new friends began hanging out together trading criminal stories, and exploring the possibilities of future bank robberies.  

Barn Lamm



Sometime in the early nineteen thirties Dillinger was introduced to Walter E. Dietrich, a survivor of the Baron Lamm Gang. Pierpont persuaded Dietrich to reveal the secrets techniques of a famous bank robber named Baron Lamm. Lamm was a Prussian Officer in World War I, who was forced to resign after he was caught cheating in a card game.  Lamm brilliantly put his military skills to use in the bank robbing business. Carefully planning every move step by step, with military precision and timing. The gang pulled off several remarkable robberies until December 16, 1930, when a posse killed Lamm and most of his gang after robbing the Citizens bank in Clinton, Indiana. Dietrich and James Clark (no relation to Russell Clark) were the only survivors of the massacre. There is little known about Dietrich, but records indicate that his life of crime began in Danville, Illinois when he was 14 years old. He had served time in a Missouri prison for robbery, and used the alias’ Walter Dietz, and Walter Martin. Following the Citizens bank robbery, Dietrich’s trial was held in Paris, Illinois and he was sentenced to life in Michigan City on Jan. 2, 1931. He would be paroled from Michigan City on January 8, 1953.                                                             

Pierpont realized that Dillinger would be the first paroled, so he began working on an escape plan. Pierpont told Dillinger to be a model prisoner, which would bring an earlier parole date. Homer Van Meter would actually be the first to be paroled, but because of Pierpont's dislike for the bandit, he would not be included in the plans. After two years of careful planning the escape plan was beginning to take shape. Pierpont’s had plans for the future, which included, as he put it, making a big splash on the outside. This gathering of criminal minds would one day be crowned the Dillinger gang. Details of the escape plans would be discussed in detail over the next couple of years. Dillinger would be given a list of banks to rob once he was on the outside; the money would be used to finance the escape. Pierpont realized that they would only have one chance, and if anything went wrong, it was over.  The selected inmates, who would participate in the escape, would be those who agreed to go all the way, no turning back.

Dietrich explained every ingenious detail of Baron Lamm's scientific methods for bank robberies, and Dillinger was schooled on the ins and outs. He began writing home more often and seemed to be in high spirits, but his relatives didn’t realize is the reasoning behind his happiness. Dillinger was about to embark in one of the biggest bank robbery spree's of the nineteen thirties. Prison systems were designed to rehabilitate inmates, but many prisoners would become violent criminals. Dillinger had gone into prison as an amateur criminal and came out a professional bank robber. The courts had stolen nearly ten years of his life and he had become bitter towards society.  He would graduate from his bank robbing training on the day he was paroled. In early May of 1933, Dillinger heard through the prison grapevine that two hundred citizens of Mooresville had signed a petition for his release. Even B.F. Morgan, the man Dillinger attempted to rob had signed the petition. The community persuaded Judge William’s to help release John Dillinger.

The Judge agreed and wrote a letter to the Clemency Board stating that Dillinger had learned his lesson and would make an honorable citizen if paroled. The release papers were signed and Dillinger was to be paroled on May 11, 1933. However, his Parole was date was delayed because prison officials took their time processing the paperwork. Officials were in no hurry, besides Dillinger had already served nearly ten years, so they figured what’s another week? A week to a prisoner about to be paroled would feel like another month. On May 20, Warden Walter H. Daly received a telegraph from the elder Dillinger.  The telegram asked for John Dillinger’s immediate release, stating that his mother was near death. The Warden responded by informing the elder Dillinger that he could pick up his son, on May 22. John's half brother Hubert was waiting outside prison walls to pick him up. Prison officials gave John a new suit of clothes; he received a five-dollar bill, and a farewell handshake from the Warden.

By the time they reached the modern Mooresville farm, there was a hearse parked in the driveway, and John's stepmother had just past away. The delay of Dillinger's release papers had taken away his final moments with his stepmother. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Fields Dillinger was buried at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Less than a month after Lizzie's death, John attended church with his dad on father's day.  The pastor preached the sermon on the Prodigal son, and the sermon took a toll on John, he cried out loud in the church. If the community had any doubts about John, they were now convinced that he would make a good citizen.

The good citizens of Mooresville didn't realize that John Dillinger had already made a choice about his future, and had already committed two robberies. During this time, he was keeping in touch with his parole officer, but things would soon change. In a report written to John’s parole officer, he stated that he had been attending to church, and going to the movies. In the same statement, he denies attending any meetings, going to dances, picnics, or parties. He also states that he has spent much of his time fishing, and swimming. 






By Tony Stewart





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