"NOW BILLIE, WHO'S SMARTER ME OR THE COPS?"
“This is a stickup, not a Board of directors meeting." ...Johnnie Dillinger
DILLINGER MEETS BABY FACE NELSON
Dillinger and Billie visited for a while with Patsy Frechette and then left. During an investigation of Dillinger’s famous escape, officials had found an old washboard under the bed of his cell. This was a prop left to stage a scene, and to convince officials that he whittled the wooden gun from the missing top brace of the washboard. This event was staged by Dillinger to protect those who aided his escape. The plan worked like a charm. Dillinger’s father had made a statement from his farm in Mooresville to the press regarding his son’s escape. In this statement, he said, "About John's escape from Crown Point, I think he watched for a chance, and when he saw the chance he made a break, and was lucky enough to get away. I think luck is with him. He wanted to get away cause they were trying to make a mountain out of a molehill." One newspaper reporter called John Dillinger a ruthless butcher of human beings, who has the blood lust of a born killer; murder was his profession, and policemen were his favorite prey.
The article also condemned Robert Estill, stating that he wrapped his loving arm around Dillinger’s shoulders when he posed with the outlaw. The article condemned Lillian Holley for being a lady sheriff, claiming she no doubt placed pink and blue ribbons on every cell to celebrate Dillinger’s presence.
HOMER VAN METER
On March 4, Dillinger picked up Billie Frechette and drove to St. Paul, where they checked into the Santa Monica Apartments at 3252 South Girard. Next they met with Homer van Meter and drove to an Apartment, where Lester Gillis had taken up residence.
LESTER "BABY FACE" NELSON
Gillis was better known as Baby Face Nelson, was a vicious man who would not hesitate to use his gun. He was both predator, and prey to those who hunted him. Eugene Green, better known as Eddie Green also attended the meeting. Green had run with the Barker/Karpis gang, and was involved in the robbery of the First National Bank in Fairbury, Nebraska. The gang made off with $151,350 from this robbery. Baby Face Nelson was star struck and jealous by Dillinger’s presence.
Nelson began bragging; he had his own style of robbing banks, shoot everyone, grab the loot, and leave with guns blazing. This remark made Van Meter burst out laughing, Nelson became furious, and reacted by going for his gun. The two would have surely killed each other if Dillinger hadn’t been there to keep the peace. Dillinger wasn’t impressed with Nelson, but needed an extra gun for the robbery. Later that day, Nelson picked up Dillinger and headed towards Van Meter’s residence. Suddenly, Nelson smashed into automobile in front of him, which was owned by Theodore Kidder. Kidder jumped out of his car, and ran up to Nelson yelling, “Are you blind? You just ran a stop sign!” Nelson pulled out his .45 automatic revolvers and shot Kidder between the eyes killing him instantly. Dillinger had to be displeased with Nelson’s actions, because he did not believe in taking a life.
Dillinger was the most sought man in America, and most likely wanted to avoid unnecessary attention. On March 6, only three days after the Crown Point break, Dillinger was back in business. This gang included John Hamilton, Homer Van Meter, Tommy Carroll, Eugene “Eddie” Green, and Baby Face Nelson. Hamilton was the only original member of the previous Dillinger gang. These new members would prove to be just as daring as the first Dillinger gang was, but lacked professionalism. This was attributed to Baby Face Nelson; who would blast anyone who got in his way. Nelson relied on his gun, more than his wits. He would kill at least five men during his criminal career, and would later die in a shoot-out with Federal Agents. Police Officials figured that after Dillinger escaped jail, he would go into hiding like most outlaws. But Dillinger wasn't like most outlaws. Besides, he was low on cash and needed money to finance his pals, Pierpont and Makley's defense. Throughout Dillinger's career, he would always stick by his friends. Pierpont and Makley were taking to Lima, Ohio, to stand trial for Jesse Sarber’s murder. Security at Lima was beefed up, immediately after word came of Dillinger's escape.
Official’s placed sandbags around the perimeter of the jail, and mounted machineguns behind barricades. Machine guns were also mounted on the rooftops of nearby businesses, and at each end of the jail's corridors to halt any escape attempt. Guards were armed with high-powered weapons; they wore steel helmets, and gas masks. As a precaution, the jail also added spotlights to keep the area lit up through the late hours of the night. Lima jail was convinced that Dillinger would try to spring his companions at all costs. Dillinger was amused at the jester, but he was too clever to attempt such a foolish act. Dillinger did want to free his friends, but the risks were just too great. Regardless of how much money Dillinger would raise to help his friends, they were doomed. On March 24, Pierpont and Makley were sentenced to die in the electric chair. Russell Clark was more fortunate. On July 13, he was sentenced to life in prison after his attorney announced his client did not believe in the death penalty. Meanwhile, Dillinger was busy making plans to rob another bank. The target was the Security National Bank and Trust Company in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Experts argue that John Hamilton wasn’t able to participate in this robbery, because of his current condition. There is still a lot of controversy whether Hamilton was actually involved in the Sioux Falls robbery or not.
Hamilton was still recovering from severe wounds that he received during the East Chicago robbery. Evidence at the time, reports six men involved in the robbery at Sioux Falls. The sixth man may have possibly been Hamilton. The gang drove into Sioux Falls in a new Green Packard with Kansas City license plates. The car was stolen from a used car lot, a couple days prior to the robbery. The gang arrived just before 10 a.m. This was a move that changed the bandit’s customary pattern of arriving near closing time, when the bank was crowded with last minute customers. This would allow the bandit’s the opportunity to position themselves in various locations of the bank without arousing suspicion. The only problem with a crowded bank was the outlaws had to keep a close watch on everyone. The bank bandits double-parked the Packard close to the bank to assure a quick getaway.
This technique prevented the escape car from being blocked in a parking spot, which was critical if gunfire erupted. This was a systematic procedure often used by the gang, which was quite effective. While Dillinger, Van Meter, and Nelson entered the bank, Carroll and Green remained outside to keep an eye on the situation. With their weapons concealed beneath long overcoats, Carroll remained on the sidewalk, while Green stood guard by the car. Inside the bank, Dillinger lined everyone up against the wall with the machinegun he borrowed from Crown Point. Nelson emptied the cash drawers, while Van Meter, armed with a machinegun guarded the front door. Dillinger seemed to be calling the shots as he ordered employees to open the vault. Nobody responded until Dillinger threatened to fire his machinegun, and frightened employees pointed out the man in charge. Dillinger ordered him to open the vault, and he promptly obeyed. Meanwhile, a concerned citizen had called the police to report a disturbance at the bank. Police Officers thought that it was probably just a disagreement of some type, but proceeded to the bank to investigate. Several officers arrived on the scene armed only with pistols.
They were quickly disarmed by Carroll, and lined up against the building. A motorcycle officer also arrived at the bank after hearing shots fired. He went for his weapon, and was shot down by Carroll. The officer suffered serious wounds, but he would survive the ordeal to later identify the outlaws. Some witnesses claimed that it was Nelson, who shot the officer from a window, inside the bank. After the first shots were fired, people began to appear from every direction to see what was going on. Green was in the middle of the street directing traffic to keep people moving, and Carroll had to fire shots over the heads of the crowd to keep the curious back. Dillinger heard the shots fired just as the gang was ready to exit the bank.
The outlaws emerged from the bank with five women employees as hostages, and fled for the car. The hostages were ordered onto the running board to prevent police from firing. As the gang drove off, a posse of officers followed close behind. One patrolman managed to shoot a hole in the radiator of the fleeing car. Hostages on the running boards complained to the bandits that they were getting cold. The hostages were told to climb into the back seat of the crowded car, and sit on the laps of the robbers. Bullets fired by the gang had ripped through police cars and shattered the windshield of one vehicle. The outlaw’s also poured roofing nails all over the highway, which punctured the tires, and disabled police vehicles. The police quickly changed their flattened tires and continued pursuit on the outlaws. The gangsters were traveling the speed limit, twenty-five miles per hour, which allowed engaging officers to catch up very quickly. When the robbers spotted the posse approaching they sped up. The chase pursued for approximately two hours. With little regard for the hostages, officers began carelessly firing at the robbers. The gang fired a volley of bullets over the heads of hostages to drive back their pursuers. The robbers drove southward, and soon released the hostages. They continued their journey until the Packard sputtered and came to a stop.
They seized a Dodge coming down the road, and forced the owner to lie face down in a field until the gang departed down an old country gravel road. The police gave up the chase on the South Dakota-Iowa border. The gang shared the $49,500 from the robbery, and then fled back to St. Paul to lay low for a while. Instead of robbing a bank they could have used the title of the car to get a loan. Title Max offers car title loans that can get you cash in less than a day. On the same day of the Sioux Falls robbery, Lima, Ohio was busy selecting a jury for Pierpont’s trial. Pierpont entered the courtroom with a smile, but remained silent as Prosecutor Ernest F. Botkin told the jury that he planned to seek the death penalty. Shortly after the Sioux Falls robbery, a phone call was made to Louis Piquett's office, instructing Arthur O'Leary to meet Dillinger at an inconspicuous location in Chicago. Moments after O'Leary arrived, an unknown man walked up, handed him an envelope and walked off without saying a word. The envelope contained just under a thousand dollars in cash. O'Leary knew where the money came from, and what it was for. It was a partial payment from John Dillinger to his attorney for services rendered. Dillinger contacted Mary Kinder and told her to meet him at another secluded location. Mary drove to the designated area just outside of town to meet Dillinger. She drove down a deserted road, expecting to see Dillinger, but only Homer Van Meter was present. Mary never liked Van Meter, and neither did her boyfriend, Harry Pierpont.
The first thing Mary asked was “Where's John?" Van Meter handed her an envelope containing two thousand dollars to help with Pierpont's defense, and told her John was too tired to come. Then he added that John doesn't want to see her because he's afraid of women. Mary demanded to see John. Van Meter said that John had not yet been identified as a suspect in the Sioux Falls robbery, and wanted to lie low for a while. The amount of money given to Mary was a good portion of Dillinger's share from the Sioux Falls loot. After the money was divided, Dillinger's share came close to seven thousand dollars. On the cold afternoon of March 13, the gang would strike again. As light snow fell on the prosperous town of Mason City, as Eddie Green and Homer Van Meter pulled into an empty parking in a big Buick lot. Moments later, another car approached from the north. This car contained four men, Tommy Carroll, John Hamilton, Baby Face Nelson, and John Dillinger. The four outlaws parked the car, and all climbed into the Buick.
The time was about 2:30 p.m., when the big Buick pulled into town, and headed for the First National Bank. The bandits were heavily armed and ready to go. On this day the bank’s vault contained close to Two hundred and forty thousand dollars. All First National banks had been put on alert, after the Sioux Falls robbery. The Mason City bank had a steel cage mounted fifteen feet above the lobby with bulletproof glass, and a bank guard stationed inside with a tear gas gun. From this location the guard could observe most of the bank, and be on the alert in case of trouble. Meanwhile, outside the robbers had just parked the Buick on the south side of the Mason City Bank.
Tommy Carroll’s job was to stay in the car, and keep his eyes open for any trouble that may arise. Van Meter stood directly across the street from the bank by a drug store. Eddie Green stood guard at the rear of the bank. Dillinger, Hamilton and Baby Face Nelson entered the bank at 2:40 p.m. A local photographer was shooting a film for a security advertisement when the Dillinger gang entered the bank. The photographer was ordered to quit filming, and he shut the camera down. After the bank was robbed, the man began filming the scene again, to reveal the aftermath of a shoot-out that occurred during the robbery. Bank employees were busy with last minute customers, when the robbers pulled out weapons, and announced, "This is a stickup!" Dillinger ordered everyone to lie face down on the floor.
A few of the ladies in the bank lay down on their backs. Dillinger grinned with amusement and said; “This is a stickup, not a Board of directors meeting." Nelson grabbed H.C. Fisher, a cashier, by the collar herded him to the vault. Dillinger kept his eyes on employees, while Hamilton stood in the lobby armed with a machinegun.The shooting began when Hamilton looked up to see the bank guard, Tom Walters, in the cage above. Hamilton sprayed the cage with his machinegun, the bullets just bounced off the bulletproof glass. Walters wanted to fire tear gas at the robbers, but was worried he might hit customers. One man, a bookkeeper managed to throw a tear gas bomb into the lobby, and the fumes began to circulate about the bank. Outside the bank, a crowd had begun to gather, and police were taking up positions on rooftops of nearby businesses. Gunfire erupted as police fired on the outlaws, who returned fire with machineguns. At this same moment, Dillinger and Hamilton came rushing out of the bank, and were both wounded in the shoulder. The wounds were not serious and the two outlaws managed to reach the car. Hostages were gathered and ordered to stand on the running boards to act as human shields. The bandits made off with fifty two thousand dollars, but the figure could have been much higher if they would have had more time and less resistance.
The hostages were set free just outside of town, and the gang headed back to St. Paul to lick their wounds. Hamilton and Dillinger contacted Pat Reilly, an old friend, who arranged for them to meet with Dr. Mortensen to treat their wounds. Meanwhile on March 14, Herbert Youngblood had showed up in Detroit, Michigan. Youngblood had managed to remain incognito after the escape from the Lake County Jail. Officials speculated that Dillinger might have murdered Youngblood soon after the break. Murder was not Dillinger's style; the two simply shook hands and parted company. Youngblood made his way to Port Huron, Michigan and it was here that his troubles would soon begin, and end in a fatal shoot-out. Youngblood began showing up at speak-easies, and bars around the town, and became intoxicated. He began bragging about his part in the Crown Point escape. Local officials were notified and on the morning of March 16, Youngblood was located in a grocery store owned by Mrs. Pearl Abraham, on the outskirts of Port Huron. Mrs. Abraham's son, Eugene Fields was wounded the mishaps. The three officers that responded to the call were Sheriff William Van Antwerp, Deputy Sheriff Howard Lohr, and Undersheriff Charles Cavanaugh.
The officers entered the store and surrounded Youngblood; they commanded him to surrender. Youngblood drew his gun, whirled around and opened fired on the officers. The officers returned fire, but when the smoke cleared, Youngblood, Fields, and all three officers were wounded. Officer Cavanaugh was fatally wounded, and died shortly after the shoot-out. Youngblood attempted to make a final break for freedom, but Fields, who was wounded in the shoulder; grabbed a gun off the floor and pumped two more bullets into the outlaw. Youngblood fell to the floor with a total of seven bullets in him. He diedlater on in the hospital, but upon his deathbed, he lied, and told police he had seen Dillinger the night before on March 15. The statement caused an all out alert and five hundred officers were dispatched to Port Huron, and surrounding communities. Police blockaded both sides of the city limits in an effort to catch Dillinger. Every car in the vicinity, coming in or leaving town was thoroughly searched. As federal agents, and law enforcement agencies continued their hopeless search in Michigan and Chicago. Dillinger was still hiding out in St. Paul. In fact, on March 20, Dillinger and Billie Frechette had just relocated from their hideout in Minneapolis to St.Paul. They moved into the Lincoln Court Apartments located at 93/95 South Lexington Avenue. They played the role as a married couple going by the names, Mr. and Mrs. Carl T. Hellman. Billie would go shopping, cook, and even found time to press Dillinger’s suits. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary about the new tenants, and life was good. The Hellman’s would go out once in awhile to the movies or the grocery store, but most of the time remained indoors. The couple would receive visits on occasions from friends like Opal Long, Russell Clark, Homer Van Meter, John Hamilton, and his girlfriend Pat Cherrington.
The Hellman’s tried so hard not to look conspicuous, that neighbors did become suspicious of the couple. On one particular occasion when a custodian wanted to enter the building to do some minor repairs, Mrs. Hellman told him that her husband was in the bathtub, and that he would do the repairs. The custodian also thought it peculiar that the tenants always exited out the rear of the estate. Another curious neighbor became suspicious because the couple always kept the curtains drawn, except in the early morning hours. After several days of trying to live a normal life, the FBI was called to investigate the Hellman’s. On March 30, Agents R.C. Coulter and R.L. Nolls were dispatched to watch the apartment that evening. Agents watched the couple, but didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. Coulter and Nolls decided to talk to the Hellman’s before departing to assure the custodian that everything was in order. Since the agents were out of their jurisdiction, they called in Detective Henry Cummings of the St.Paul Police to assist them. Agent Nolls waited on the street to watch the Ford parked on Lincoln Avenue, after agents were informed that the car belonged to the Hellman’s. 10:30 a.m. the next day, Agent Coulter and Detective Cummings knocked on Hellman's door. Dillinger and Billie were still in bed sleeping when agents arrived. Billie was barely awake when she got up and answered the door. The agents asked to speak to Carl Hellman. For a brief moment Billie had forgotten that John's name was Carl, she replied that he wasn’t home. Billie asked the officers what they wanted, they replied that they were the police and wanted to talk to her for a moment. Billie apologized and told officers that they'll have to wait because she wasn't dressed. Billie then nervously woke Dillinger up and told him the police were at the door. Her tone sounded uneasy and skittish. Dillinger told her to calm down and get packed. While John was getting dressed they heard shots fired from outside. Officers had become suspicious because Billie was taking so long to answer the door. The shots they heard were from Van Meter who had just arrived and spotted the officers. Agent Coulter had decided to check the back of the building to prevent anyone from escaping the residence. As he approached the rear stairs he bumped into Van Meter, who was on his way to visit Dillinger. Coulter announced that he was a Police officer, and asked Van Meter what was his business at the building? The outlaw replied, "I'm a soap salesman." When Coulter asked to see his samples, Van Meter told him they were in the car. Van Meter was very calm, as the officer curiously followed the outlaw down the back stairway.
As they reached the basement Van Meter pulled a gun, turned, and fired as he ran. His shots missed Coulter, and the agent reacted by firing back at the outlaw. Van Meter then ducked out the back door of the basement and vanished. Coulter raced after the outlaw, but found himself alone with Van Meter nowhere in sight. John and Billie had no idea the shots they heard were connected with Van Meter. Van Meter’s timing couldn't have been better; he had distracted Coulter away from the rear stairs giving John and Billie a clear path. Dillinger sprayed the front door of his apartment with a machinegun. As the couple ran out the door, Dillinger began spraying the hallway with a volley of bullets. Detective Cummings ran down the hallway, and fired back at Dillinger hitting him in the leg. Dillinger took cover and returned fire. He instructed Billie to go get the car. She was so nervous that she dropped her suitcases, and then backed the car out facing the wrong direction. Dillinger yelled at her to turn the car around. The car was a new Hudson that they had just bought a few days earlier. Dillinger jumped behind the wheel and they sped off down the road. The Ford left behind the by couple was disabled after agent R.L. Nolls punctured all the tires with bullets to prevent escape. Dillinger and Billie headed straight for Eddie Green's apartment at 778 Rondo Avenue. Dillinger waited in the car, while Billie went to get Green. Green took Dillinger to Dr. Clayton May’s private office on Park Avenue in Minneapolis. The leg wound wasn't serious, but the bullet had gone clean through the flesh. Dr. Clayton May cleaned, and dressed the wound. He was paid well for his service, and was warned to keep his mouth shut. Dillinger would recover very quickly from his wound, but would walk with a limp. After the incident with Dillinger, Green thought it would be wise to move. The Eddie Green and his wife Beth moved out that same evening and took up residence at 3300 Freeman Avenue. Federal agents and police was now busy searching Dillinger's apartment. In the apartment, agents found what appeared to be a "Getaway Guide," which had been drawn up by Eddie Green and given to Dillinger. Inside the guide, upon investigation agents discovered a detailed highway route, which lead directly to the Newton, Iowa bank. The guide specified speedometer readings to the tenth of a mile, every turn, curve, sign, bridge, crossroads, and even bumps. Agents also found scraps of paper with Dillinger's handwriting, a yellowed notebook, a full machinegun clip and a telephone number. The telephone number was Eddie Green’s, and would lead agents straight to his apartment. Even through Green had already fled the apartment, but agents noted that he had left behind some luggage.
John Dillinger’s fingerprints were also found in the apartment. Agents decided to watch the apartment in hopes that Green would return. Green sent two maids over to finish packing, and told them he would pick up his things later. Agent’s nabbed the maids, and learned that Green would be returning to pick up his property. Mrs. Ed Goodman, the owner of the residence, allowed agents to use the apartment for the stakeout. On April 3, Green, accompanied by his wife, arrived at the residence. Agents watched Green as he got out of his car and walked up to the door. He thought it was strange, when the maids tossed out suitcases, and then slammed the door. Green began to run for the car, as agents blasted him with machineguns from a dining room window. The bullets hit Green in the head and back, and he fell to the ground, mortally wounded. Other agents fired at Green’s car, puncturing the rear tires. His frightened wife, Beth (Bessie) jumped from the car, and ran to her husband’s side. She screamed out, "Please don’t shoot anymore, We’re alone!" She leaned down to comfort her husband, but was pulled away by agents. Green was searched, but no gun was found. He was taken to a nearby hospital, while agents questioned him constantly on the whereabouts of Dillinger, as he slipped in and out of consciousness. Part of what Green conveyed to agents made no since at all. The day before Green died he told agents about several robberies that he was involved in with Alvin Karpis, the Barker brothers, and John Dillinger. Green said Karpis had given money to a guy named Sawyer to take east, and exchange it for clean money. The money was part of the kidnapping ransom of William Hamm, the president of the Hamm's Brewing Company. Green mentioned that Hamm was held captive somewhere in Wisconsin. Agents realized the dying outlaw knew far too many facts about the Hamm kidnapping, which meant he might have been involved. Karpis and the Barker’s did kidnapped Hamm, but Roger Touhy a well-known gangster was convicted, and sent to prison for the crime. Green went on to say the Dillinger gang had four cars, purchased through someone named Martin in St. Paul. He may have been taking about Billie Frechette, who used the alias Ann Martin when arrested in Tucson. During questioning, Green asked repeatedly to see his wife Bessie. He recalled their wedding day on July 14, and said he enjoyed drinking four cases of beer with the Mayor (Mayor's name not mentioned). He said that Johnnie was also present during the event. Agents asked the nurse to talk to Green about his wife. The nurse explained to Green that his wife was in a lot of trouble for aiding Dillinger. Green then told her to get a hold of Pierpont, and Hamilton at either 65 or 265 Marshall Avenue, or 103 Lake Street, both located in Minneapolis.
He added that Dillinger could be located at one of these addresses. Green asked for a map to show agents these locations, but his condition was too weak, and suffered from temporary loss of sight. Green lingered on for eight days, before dying on April 11, from his wounds. The American people were outraged when they learned that Green had been unarmed, and shot in the back by agents, as he ran from the scene. A shocked nation demanded the resignation of J.Edgar Hoover for this act of cold-blooded murder. The Director reacted by keeping a low profile, and avoiding all publicity. The Bureau couldn’t avoid public pressure, and needed a positive response to ratify their actions. Hoover tried justifying this action by making a public statement, stating the shooting of Eddie Green had halted the robbery of the Newton bank. He added that if Dillinger had robbed the Newton bank as planned, it could have resulted in gunplay and may have been disastrous. The FBI tried to play the role as heroes, but American's weren’t buying it.
In fact, the Federal agents began watching the Newton bank in hopes that Dillinger might show. Dillinger had already learned of the shooting of Green, and had no intentions of robbing the bank. Dillinger wasn't even in St.Paul, when the shooting occurred. Regardless of what the American people thought about the killing of Eddie Green, the FBI's back-shooting methods would continue. Green’s criminal record revealed that he had served time in Milwaukee, and the Minnesota State Reformatory for robbery charges. Years later, the FBI had actually changed the facts on the killing of Eddie Green. Today these FBI documents, states that Green went for his gun and agents had no choice because he resisted. The FBI has succeeded in changing the facts on Eddie Green, but the truth will prevail. Many Websites, television documentaries, and books tell the FBI’s fabricated version of what happened during the dark years of the nineteen thirties. I have talked to hundreds of people over the past thirty years, regarding outlaws of the Great Depression era, and many tend to believe these FBI fairy tales as facts. However, we cannot blame Americans for trusting the words of our Government of truth. It is common for Americans to believe and trust our Government and political leaders, as we should. The FBI of the thirties, especially J.Edgar Hoover, violated this sacred trust of Americans when falsifying facts and changing legal documents. Hoover went far beyond the boundaries of his job description, and his sole duties of investigate crime and criminals. He has spied on the innocent, and invaded the privacy of Americans around the clock. Many Americans have become victims of Hoover’s private revenge.
While Hoover was busy making excuses for the killing of Eddie Green, Dillinger was preparing for a family reunion with family in Mooresville. He was feeling much better after the incident in St.Paul but still walked with a limp. Following the fatal shooting of Eddie Green on April 3, Dillinger, and his sweetheart Billie Frechette decided that it was time to check out of St.Paul. The problem was that most the roads were blocked, while newspapers announced that the search for Dillinger, was the biggest manhunt in the nation's history. He wasn’t officially public enemy number one, but was wanted in several states. Police and FBI officials were busy following thousands of anonymous tips and sightings on Dillinger throughout the country. Dillinger decided that the only place the authorities wouldn't be looking for him would be home on his father's farm, and he was correct. Billie tried to talk him out of going home, because it wasn’t safe. But Dillinger said, "Listen Billie. Who's smarter, me or the cops?" On the evening of April 5,1934, Dillinger drove his Hudson deep into the woods, a mile from the Mooresville farm. John and Billie hiked through the darkness of the woods, until they reached the farm. They took a round about way, coming up from behind the old barn to the back of the house.
To the rest of the world he was known as "Dillinger, number one badman,” but at home with family, he was simply known as Johnnie. Dillinger was happy to see his father; he had read in the newspapers that his dad had struck up for him in a statement regarding the Crown Point escape. John’s father warned him that the FBI and the State Police have been watching the house. The elder Dillinger feared that his son’s life would in danger at the farm, when so many lawmen were after him. This was something John's father could over look to enjoy this time with his son. These were precious moments, and everyone realized this could be John’s last visit. John told his father that Billie was his wife, and she was treated as one of the family. Although, they really weren’t legally married, they were very much in love and that’s all that mattered. Being home again seemed to make John Dillinger happy, he wore a smile that nothing could tarnish. He seemed to be on top of the world and felt safe at home in the midst of family and friends. He was mindful to the fact that every police official in the nation was hunting him. Even the thought of possible death lurking just around the corner didn't effect his mood. On the following morning John and Billie rested all day. That evening, John and his half brother Hubert, hiked back to the outlaw’s car and drove to Ohio to deliver $1000 dollars to Mary Kinder. The money was to help to Pierpont and Makley appeal their death sentences. This kind of loyalty, and trust was what John’s friendship was all about. It also proves there can be honesty among thieves. Outlaws had to have a firm reliance, and stability between gang members to continue this enduring lifestyle of bank robbery. The money was to be delivered to Pierpont's attorney in Ohio. During this journey, they passed a few police officers, but didn’t arouse any suspicion. Part of the trip John lay on the floorboard of the back seat with a machinegun. Mary Kinder was happy to see Dillinger. He said he hoped that things go well for Makley and Pierpont. Dillinger was aware that the police could be watching the house, so they talked briefly, and said goodbye. On the return trip home, Hubert fell asleep at the wheel, and crashed into another the car. The Hudson swerved, and veered off into the woods, traveling about a hundred yards, and nearly colliding into several trees. The left rear wheel of Dillinger’s Hudson broke clean off during the incident, but no one was injured. John and Hubert ran back to check on the occupants of the other car, who were stunned, but not hurt. They apologized for the mishaps, and the people left without suspicion. Dillinger hid in the woods with a machinegun, while Hubert went for another car. Hubert returned shortly, and they were able continue on their way.
Captain Matt Leach of the State Police would learn about the incident, and later locate the damaged Hudson. Leach said it looked like the same car Dillinger used in his narrow escape during the brief gun battle with St. Paul officers. By the time Dillinger and Hubert returned to the farm, word had got around that Dillinger was in town. The following day, it seemed like everybody in Mooresville knew that Dillinger was home for a visit. Everybody was observing the situation directly across the street, except the State Police. Police either figured that John Dillinger wouldn't risk his life by showing up at a family reunion, or they knew what was going on, and just didn't care. It wasn't long before carloads of people began showing up at the farm with Dillinger "The most wanted man in America," as their host. Many people at the affair noticed that Dillinger had dyed his hair a reddish brown. The outlaw enjoyed talking with everyone; he joked around a bit, posed for several pictures proudly displaying the wooden gun used in his escape from Crown Point jail. In his left hand, he held a real machinegun, which was taken from the jail at the time of his escape. This would have been very interesting site, especially with the State Police stationed directly across the street, with Dillinger posing in front of God and everyone. Later he enjoyed a home cooked chicken dinner, complete with all the trimmings, and his sister Audrey baked his favorite coconut-cream pies. Dillinger hadn't had a good home cooked meal in a long time, and he enjoyed everything. He told Audrey that this was the reason that he came home. Audrey offered to bake him some more pies for to take on the road, but John just put his arm around her, and said, she's already done too much. It was time for John and Billie to move on, so they said their good-byes to everyone. Saying goodbye was an emotional moment for the family; knowing this could possibly be the last time they see John alive. Everyone had mixed feelings of joy and sorrow. After good-byes were exchanged, Dillinger headed for Chicago. A short time after Dillinger left the farm; word got out to the newspapers of the visit. When John Dillinger Sr. was asked about the visit, he replied, “John had came down to look in on me.” He stated that he got to talk to his son for a while, but he's not in Indiana now. During this visit John assured his father that regardless of what the newspapers say, he had never killed anyone, and never will. The elder Dillinger went on to say he no longer hoped John would flee to a foreign country to escape capture. "If he were your boy you wouldn't want him so far away, would you? As it is now I can see him now and then."
Dillinger had succeeded in making fools out of the FBI, as he did Crown Point Officials. He didn’t plan on making fools out of the Bureau; they just underestimated his cleverness. During his visit at the Mooresville farm, Dillinger told his father that he had just returned from Florida. This was two days after the East Chicago robbery. He was telling the truth. Dillinger, Pierpont, Kinder, Makley, Opal Long and Clark had been seen in Daytona Beach, Florida on January 14, and several witnesses verified this. The distance between Daytona, Florida and East Chicago, Indiana is approximately 1132.56 miles. To reach East Chicago, and rob the bank, he would have had to drive for 20.6 hours non-stop at 56 miles an hour, which seems highly improbable. Dillinger left Florida with Makley, Clark and Long. The group drove 1300 miles to Wisconsin to pick up Billie Frechette, stopping at his father’s Mooresville farm in Indiana along the way. Dillinger and Billie traveled to 120 miles to Chicago to visit a wounded John Hamilton, and on to St. Louis, where they attended an automobile show over 200 miles away, at the Municipal Auditorium. Next they drove another 1275 miles, arriving in Arizona on January 22. Dillinger drove over 3000 miles in seven days, 428 miles a day, on the old single lane roads, making stops for gas and to rest. The fact is that Dillinger was not involved in the East Chicago robbery and did not kill O’Malley. The true robbers were John Hamilton and Harry Copeland, who had been staying in different hideouts in Chicago at the time. They drove into East Chicago, Indiana and hit the bank the same day. John Hamilton was severely wounded during the robbery with four bullets in the groin and the loss of a finger. The first reports identified Hamilton as the killer of O’Malley, which I believe to be correct. Copeland was mistaken for John Dillinger during the robbery, and may have also been the man who killed Officer O’Malley. Dillinger had traveled for seven days from Florida, to Indiana, Wisconsin, Chicago, and onto St. Louis and then Arizona. Dillinger was exhausted when he rolled into Tucson. While at the farm, I thought back of stories I had read, about John Dillinger passing through the Mooresville woods to get to the farm. I recalled stories of how Dillinger loved hunting as a teenager with the family dog. Dillinger knew these woods very well. The old barn behind the house, where John used to hide from police, was gone. The barn had burned down several years ago. John Dillinger Sr. once owned sixty-seven acres of land surrounding the house. Today, less than an acre belongs to the owners of the old homestead.
Dillinger had learned Eddie Green had died on April 11, eight days after the fatal shooting occurred. The following day newspapers announced Billie Frechette was in custody of the FBI. She was picked up after Dillinger arranged a meeting at a Chicago tavern with a supposed friend who had turned informant. The trap was set for Dillinger, but Billie showed up first to check things out. As she entered the tavern the FBI nabbed her, while Dillinger watched nearby in his car. John Dillinger loved Billie, but there was nothing he could do except watch as heavily armed FBI agents surrounded her. During questioning, Billie intimidated agents by telling them John was in the tavern when she was arrested. She stated that he simply walked right by agents and out the door. Even though John had told his father he never killed anyone, he probably felt like killing the informant responsible for Billie’s arrest. Billie was charged with harboring a fugitive of justice. Dillinger called Louis Piquett to ask him to defend Billie. Piquett was out of town in Washington on business, So his investigator Arthur O'Leary agreed to meet with Dillinger. Dillinger had known O'Leary from Crown Point; he had helped Piquett work on his defense and could be trusted. Dillinger met with O'Leary in a secret location in Chicago, and gave him five thousand dollars to represent Billie. Dillinger also asked if Piquett knew a good plastic surgeon? He told O’Leary to have Piquett find out when and where Billie would be transferred to St.Paul, so he could spring her from the FBI's grip. On the same day Billie was arrested, the newspapers charged Dillinger with thief’s totaling over a half million dollars from banks robberies. Dillinger would make nationwide headlines after he raided a police station in Warsaw, Indiana on April 13. Dillinger and Homer Van Meter had entered the town of Warsaw at 1:15 a.m., and forced Jud Pittenger (the night patrolman) at gunpoint, to accompany them to police head quarters. While Van Meter held Pittenger against the wall with an automatic pistol in his side, Dillinger emptied the police arsenal. He grabbed three bulletproof vests and two pistols. Then Dillinger told Van Meter, "Lets take the old boy with us so he won't squawk too soon." As the three headed down a flight of stairs with Van Meter leading and Dillinger behind, following Pittenger, the patrolman suddenly kicked Van Meter in the back. This caused Van Meter to trip, Pittenger stopped, and Dillinger bumped into him dropping the three vests. As Dillinger plunged forward, and all three of them rolled down to the foot of the stairs. The bandits jumped to their feet and grabbed the goods. Van Meter hit Pittenger in the head a few times with the butt of his gun knocking him to the floor, and the outlaws fled.
The two outlaws leaped into a large blue sedan and sped off. A posse of fifty men was quickly united, and they set off to find the bandits, but they were nowhere to be found. The following day, the posse continued their search, and mistakenly shot a gentleman named Frank Long, thinking he was a member of the gang. Physicians abandoned hope for Long’s recovery because his wounds were fatal. He was hit thirteen times by shotguns, rifles, and police revolvers. On April 21, a story leaked out that the Indiana State police were watching the Dillinger homestead with powerful telescopes. Police occupied the back porch of the Abner Horny farm to spy on the family. The Horny farm was located three-quarters of a mile, southwest of the Dillinger farm. The farms faced each other across the valley, separated by White Lick Creek. Newspapers learned of the story while a customer at the John O. Smith barbershop in Mooresville was getting a shave. The man stated, <sic> "I done told Abner he'd get himself in bad with all the folks thereabouts if he keeps on letting the state cops use that back porch of his'n for spying." The informant also stated that a similar watch had been made once or twice from the "Meisner place," another home, near the Dillinger farm. He also said that on the previous Sunday, he observed three State Policemen at the Horny farm, on the back porch looking through telescopes. The Indiana State police denied these reports; stating there was no such watch of any kind on the Dillinger farm. On April 19, the Department of Justice officially announced that the Bureau would be keeping a close watch on the Dillinger farm. This statement was made after the FBI received the report of Dillinger's family reunion. Dillinger was making the FBI look incompetent and foolish. The biggest question asked in April of 1934, was "Where the hell was the FBI?" It all seemed kind of comical to the public. The FBI claimed they were hot on Dillinger's trail, yet Dillinger took time out from robbing banks to attend a family reunion with friends and relatives. Prior to Dillinger's prominent explosion to becoming the most wanted man in America. John Dillinger might have been poison to society, but to many hometown folks of Mooresville, he was a native son and a modern day Robin Hood on a crime spree. Dillinger’s home coming event would mark the last time Dillinger would ever be able too return home. The farm was much to hot to visit, while under constant surveillance. After Dillinger’s visit to Mooresville, the FBI and State Police would receive the worst criticism imaginable. This sluggish dimwitted image of the Justice Department put Hoover in a furious state of mind. He now wanted Dillinger more than ever.
A headline from the local newspaper on April 20, 1934 read,
"HOMETOWN FOLKS WOULD PARDON DILLINGER"
In Mooresville, Dillinger's hometown, a petition was circulated requesting Governor Paul V.McNutt to grant amnesty to America's most celebrated criminal. Many of Dillinger's hometown acquaintances signed the petition, which alleged that John Dillinger didn't get a square deal when convicted and sentenced in 1924, for the attempted robbery of a Mooresville grocer. The petition went on to say that Dillinger is not as bad as he is pictured or portrayed to be. Dillinger has never "manifested a vicious, revengeful, or bloodthirsty disposition." The article indicated that if the FBI would quit bothering Dillinger, this would prevent bloodshed in his capture. This would give the State of Indiana something to be proud of by the generous helping hand she has extended to her prodigal son. Regardless of this petition of amnesty, the FBI wanted Dillinger and wanted him "DEAD". Meanwhile in Pana, Illinois, Dillinger was positively identified as one of the robbers of the First National bank. Four unmasked men entered the bank and robbed it of $30,000. Although Dillinger was blamed for the crime, he was no where near this bank. In fact, he left Chicago two days prior to the robbery and headed north for Michigan to visit John Hamilton's sister, Mrs. Anna Steve. They arrived late on the evening of April 17, and left the following morning for St. Paul, leaving in one car at the residence. The car left behind contained rifles, machineguns, and ammunition. The day after the outlaw’s left; someone tipped off the police that the gang had been at the residence. Police searched the premises, and found the outlaw’s car. Inside the car, police found the arsenal of weapons left behind, and Anna Steve was arrested. She was convicted on June 7, and sentenced to three months in jail. This was the same day that Tommy Carroll was killed in Iowa, after a gun battle Waterloo Detectives. About this same time, there was a letter written to Governor George White of Ohio, with the threat of death if he didn't release Harry Pierpont and Charles Makley. The letter stated, ”If you don't pardon Pierpont and Makley you won't live your term out.” The letter was signed, "Two friends of Charles and Harry," was believed to be a message from Dillinger, but later was dismissed as the work of a prank. While in St. Paul, all the gang members agreed; it was time for a vacation.
ENTRANCE TO THE LITTLE BOHEMIA LODGE
The area chosen was a resort located in Wisconsin; called the Little Bohemia Lodge. This was an ideal spot where the gang could lay low and relax for a while.
The Little Bohemia Lodge was a Resort located in the ravishing woods of Northern Wisconsin. The lodge was owned and operated by a man named Emil Wanatka. Mr. Wanatka was born in Bohemia, and ventured to the United States sometime in 1906. He first settled down in New York, but later relocated in Chicago. He made a wise investment and became part owner in the restaurant business. He eventually bought out his partner, and became full owner. In the restaurant business Wanatka had many acquaintances; he associated with many politicians, as well as some tough underworld figures. One of his regular customers was a colleague of the North Side Gang. This was a ruthless and persuasive gang of businessmen that controlled the North side of Chicago. The ringleader of the North Side Gang was a hardened pertinacious man named George “Bugs” Moran. Moran ran a vast illegal booze operation, prostitution, and gambling rackets. This was a time of prohibition; when the Volstead act became law, and alcohol became illegal, which prohibited the sale and consumption. A territorial war would erupt between rival gangs over principal control. Chicago became a battleground, and bodies began to litter the streets. Moran's worst rival in this bloody war was Al Capone, who ran his business on the South side of Chicago. Capone wanted to expand the borders of his operations, but in order to be successful he would have to annihilate his competition. Capone ordered the deaths of over three hundred mobsters, but Moran was still in his way. Capone made the arrangements to bump off Moran's entire gang in a bloody carnage on February 14, 1929. Later to be famed as the St.Valentine's Day Massacre. In 1931, Wanatka purchased the land and built the Little Bohemia Lodge, located off Highway 51, in Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin. When Wanatka needed advice on legal matters he would contact attorney Louis Piquett, who was also John Dillinger's legal counsel. There is evidence that Wanatka sought legal advice from Piquett long before Dillinger was in the picture. There seems to be some kind of connection between Piquett, Wanatka and Dillinger. Could it just be a coincidence that Louis Piquett represented both Emil Wanatka and John Dillinger? Is it also just a coincidence that Dillinger happened to choose the Little Bohemia Lodge for a vacation spot?
THE LITTLE BOHEMIA LODGE
It seems highly improbable that Dillinger would pick this particular lodge, without prior knowledge that Piquett and Wanatka were old acquaintances. Besides, It is no secret that Piquett had helped Dillinger in the past. He provided Dillinger with the woodengun for the infamous Crown Point Break. He arranged several hideouts for the outlaw, one of which was at the residence of Jimmy Probasco in Chicago. Piquett had known Probasco for some twenty years and knew he could be trusted. Piquett also arranged plastic surgery for Dillinger by Dr. Wilhelm Loeser. Dr. Loeser was a crooked underworld doctor who had served three years in Leavenworth Penitentiary on narcotic charges. Later the truth would surface and the Illinois Supreme Court disbarred Piquett for harboring Homer Van Meter. Piquett lost his license to practice law; he was ordered to serve a two-year jail term and pay a fine of $10,000. Piquett may have made some type of prearranged agreement with Wanatka to help Dillinger. Business had slow during the year and Wanatka was struggling to pay off his mortgage. Dillinger paid Wanatka $500 rent for three days at Little Bohemia, which is equal to $5600 today. This was a great deal of money for a three-day visit, which suggests that Wanatka probably knew Dillinger’s identity in advance. The high dollar amount was common for outlaws on the lam in need of a hideout. Piquett may have negotiated this dollar amount, paid to Wanatka. Either way, I am convinced that Wanatka agreed in advance to let the gang at his resort for a generous fee. Wanatka would wait until Dillinger paid him the $500, before his wife, Mrs. Wanatka, contacted the FBI. The outlaws were worth a considerably large amount of money. Dillinger's reward alone was an astonishing $10,000. This was a lot of money in 1934, and would have helped Wanatka considerably. Perhaps this was part of a plan conspired by Wanatka to rid himself of any wrongdoing, and collect the reward in the process. Wanatka knew he could have been charged with harboring a criminal, which was a serious offense. This may have been why he had second thoughts about his guests. Wanatka knew the risks involved, but he also knew about the rewards offered for the gang. Wanatka later described a couple of the outlaws as unfriendly, and one of them was a really mean looking man. This may have been the one reason why Wanatka double-crossed Dillinger and contacted the FBI. Another reason would have undoubtedly been the money that he stands to gain. Later, when the smoke cleared and the outlaws were long gone, Wanatka would convey a fable to the FBI to cover all his bases. If the FBI would have thoroughly investigated Wanatka, I'm sure the agents would have discovered several discrepancies in his story.
It began Friday, April 20,1934 when the first members of the gang arrived at the Little Bohemia Lodge. They arrived in the afternoon and Emil Wanatka came out to greet them. Three people got out of the car, Homer Van Meter, his girlfriend Marie Comforti, and gang associate Pat Reilly. An employee of the Lodge stated one of the outlaws (probably Van Meter) called out to Wanatka saying, "Hello Emil." Van Meter had been sent ahead to check things out and make certain that no Federal agents were snooping around. Van Meter approached Wanatka and asked if the Lodge was serving lunch? Wanatka replied yes, and invited them into the Lodge. After lunch Van Meter asked if Wanatka had room to put up ten guests for a few days. Wanatka was delighted, and showed his outlaw guests to their rooms. George Baszo and Frank Traube (employees of the lodge) carried the luggage into the Lodge. Baszo remarked to Wanatka that one suitcase was so heavy that it felt like it had lead in it. Wanatka told Baszo to mind his own business. Van Meter told Wanatka that the rest of the guests would be arriving later that day. Wanatka’s guest played slot machines and fed the dogs, while awaiting Dillinger and the others. Around 5:00 p.m., Dillinger arrived with the rest of the party in two separate cars. Along with Dillinger were John Hamilton, Pat Cherrington, Tommy Carroll, and his wife Jean Delaney, Baby Face Nelson and Helen Gillis. Wanatka noticed that all of the guests were well dressed and very polite. Dillinger and some of the other gang members took rooms on the upper portion of the lodge.
Dillinger gang members relaxing atthe Little Bohemia Lodge
Dillinger's room was the first on the left just at the top of the stairway. Hamilton and Pat Cherrington took a room at the end of the hall on the left side.
Van Meter and Comforti took a room on the right across from Hamilton. Baby Face Nelson, Helen Gillis, Tommy Carroll, and Jean Delaney took rooms in the cottage to the right of the lodge. An hour later the guests were served steak for dinner. After dinner the guests unpacked and settled in their rooms. Some of the party went out for a walk to check out the best possible escape routes for a quick getaway. The main entrance to Little Bohemia was the only exit, which the gang seen as a risk. Police could easily block off the road and the outlaws would be trapped. After talking it over, everyone agreed the best escape route would be along the shore banks of the lake. Everyone except Baby Face Nelson; he had his own ideas. Besides, he didn't like taking orders from anyone. Later on that evening some of the party relaxed, while others played some hands of poker.
Wanatka joined in to play a few hands but soon declined because the stakes were too high. Wanatka later recalled, when Dillinger leaned over to collect his winnings, he noticed two forty-five automatic’s concealed beneath his coat. Wanatka must have been mistaken, because there is undeniable evidence that Dillinger was always partial to .38 revolvers throughout his career. Furthermore, forty-five automatic’s weren't that popular in the early nineteen thirties. Even the FBI carried .38 revolvers. Perhaps Wanatka had seen the two forty-five revolvers carried by Baby Face Nelson. Wanatka also stated he soon noticed that all of the men were packing guns. After noticing the guns, he grew suspicious of his guests. He went into the kitchen and looked through some newspapers where he found several pictures of Dillinger. That evening, Wanatka and his wife couldn’t sleep. Throughout the night they heard constant sounds of feet walking up and down the hallway, keys jiggling, and the dogs barking outside. After a restless night Wanatka got up early to find that Tommy Carroll was already up and about. Carroll told Wanatka that he really slept well and asked, "How bout some breakfast?" Wanatka asked him to wake up the rest of the party, and he’ll start breakfast. Carroll went up the stairs and woke everyone. Later when Dillinger was alone, Wanatka confronted him and said he recognized his picture in the newspapers. Wanatka told Dillinger that his home and his family was all he had, and he didn’t want any trouble. Wanatka said that Dillinger responded in a calm and friendly manner assuring him that there would not be any trouble. He went on to say that the boys needed some rest and would only be staying a short while. Although Wanatka seemed to be a man who could be trusted, the gang kept their eyes and ears open. In Dillinger's line of business he had to be extremely cautious of people around him. While Dillinger always seemed to be cool and calm, the rest of the gang members were uneasy and nervous. When the phone would ring there was always someone close by trying to ease drop. When a guest or visitor would arrive at the lodge Wanatka would be asked, Who's that? Do you know this person? Dillinger knew Wanatka was worried, and he kept trying to cheer him up. Dillinger even played Wanatka's favorite game of Pinochle. After breakfast Wanatka was asked if he owned a gun? He replied that he had a .22 rifle and everyone went outside to target practice. A tin can was set up on a snow bank and everyone took turns shooting the rifle until it jammed.
Dillinger asked Van Meter to get one of their rifles out of the car. Wanatka claimed that only he and Van Meter were good enough to hit the target. Eight-year-old Emil Wanatka Jr. was throwing a baseball and playing catch with Baby Face Nelson. He eventually quit playing, because Nelson was throwing the ball too hard. Mrs. Wanatka planned to take Emil Jr. to a cousin’s birthday party at the home of her brother, George Laporte. The Party was also a good excuse to leave for awhile and ask relatives for advice on contacting the authorities. Mrs. Wanatka walked up to Dillinger, who was sitting at the card table, and asked him for permission to drive Emil Jr. to the event. Dillinger put his trust in Mrs. Wanatka and gave her the Okay. He told her to just continue her normal routines. The women in the gang offered to do the cooking and cleaning, while she attended the party. This act of good faith doesn't sound like a family being held hostage and terrorized by the outlaws, as Wanatka would later tell Authorities. Although Dillinger seemed to trust Mrs. Wanatka, she thought someone was following her during the journey.
She was right; Baby Face Nelson had been following her. Nelson was the suspicious one of the gang, and this time he had good reason. Mrs. Wanatka drove to Manitowish to pick up her brother Lloyd Laporte, and then headed to Mercer to mail a letter addressed to George Fisher, the Assistant District Attorney of Chicago. In the letter there was a statement informing Fisher that Dillinger was at the Lodge. At the party, Mrs. Wanatka discussed the situation with her Brother in-laws Henry Voss, Lloyd, and George Laporte. A plan was put into action. Voss would to call the Milwaukee Police Department on Sunday, if Emil Wanatka agreed with the plan. A pack of cigarettes with a note hidden inside would give Lloyd the answer early Sunday morning, and Voss would make the call. To avoid the possibility of being followed by gang members, Voss would then drive sixty miles away to make the phone call. Milwaukee Police told Voss to also contact Melvin Purvis of the FBI in Chicago.
Around ten o'clock in the morning, Pat Reilly and Pat Cherrington drove to St. Paul to pickup $2,500 from a night club owner. The man whose identity is unknown was holding close to $10,000 for Homer Van Meter for safekeeping. Voss spoke with Purvis, the G-man announced that he would be chartering two airplanes full of agents to Rhinelander Airport. Purvis requested that Voss meet agents at the airport and he agreed. The Little Bohemia Raid was beginning to take effect. Agents in the surrounding communities were also summoned to join forces and assist in the raid.
Hoover put Assistant Director Hugh Clegg in charge of the operation, which made Purvis second in charge. This was Hoover's way to keep Purvis out of the public’s eye. But regardless of what Hoover tried to do about Purvis, he was running the show at the Little Bohemia. Snow was falling, when Purvis arrived at Rhinelander Airport; other Forces were already waiting along with Voss and Laporte. Back at the lodge Dillinger told Wanatka that he had a change of plans and decided to check out as soon as Pat Reilly returned. This was a Dillinger trademark, he was known for changing his plans at the last minute. This move would often leave police officers disarranged. Dillinger requested an early dinner of steak and garlic to be served at 4:00 p.m. Mrs. Wanatka needed to tell Henry Voss' wife that Dillinger had a change of plans, so she could get word to her husband. She invited Mrs. Voss into the kitchen and told to help herself to some meat in the freezer, because she had bought too much. In the kitchen, Mrs. Wanatka told her Dillinger was about to leave. Mrs. Voss jumped into her car, and raced to Rhinelander Airport without a moment to waste. Meanwhile, Purvis was busy trying to get the agents organized for the raid. They seemed to have a big problem; the agents only had one car. A few of the agents were sent out on a mission to find cars for rent. The raid was set for Monday morning; Purvis had Dillinger right where he wanted him, except for some minor details and planning to achieve a surprise attack. A short time later, Mrs. Voss arrived, and gave her husband the news. Then she telephoned Mrs. Wanatka and persuaded her to leave the lodge immediately. The news made Purvis worried, he knew he had to act fast. He learned that even if agents left immediately, they wouldn't arrive until 8:00 p.m., and Dillinger would probably be long gone. Finally four more cars were located, bringing the total to five. Voss drew Purvis a quick diagram of the lodge; leaving out some very important details, such as a ditch on the left side of the lodge, and a barbwire fence on the right. Voss also forgot to inform Purvis that Mrs. Wanatka had two very alert watchdogs. At 7 p.m. agents left the Rhinelander airport in route to Little Bohemia. The roads were bad, covered with melted snow, mud, and several holes. Two of the cars broke down along the way and were left behind. Several agents had to ride on the running boards of the three remaining cars. Agents eventually arrived at the Birchwood Lodge, only a couple miles from Little Bohemia. While agents were at the Birchwood Lodge Purvis received word that Dillinger had not left yet. Agents then headed out to Little Bohemia. As they drew closer to the entrance of the Lodge, Purvis ordered headlights of the cars turned off and all cigarettes put out.
The night was pitch dark and the air was cool with patches of snow falling on the ground. Two cars were used to block the entrance of the lodge to prevent any possible escape attempt. Agents proceeded on foot, walking quietly through the woods. As they reached the lodge, Purvis gave orders to spread out and take positions. Protected by bulletproof vests, and armed machineguns, revolvers, and tear gas, agents surrounded the residence. Suddenly, Mrs. Wanatka's dogs began barking hysterically at agents. Inside the Lodge, two Civilian Conservation Corporation (CCC workers), and a salesman named John Hoffman had just finished their Sunday dinner and were about to leave. The two CCC workers were John Morris and Eugene Boisneau. The three men walked out carrying rifles and got into a 1933 Chevrolet coupe. George Baszo and Frank Traube followed the trio outside to the porch. Hoffman was driving; Boisneau sat in the middle with Morris sitting on the passenger side. As Hoffman started the vehicle the radio blasted on loudly, they began driving away. The men drove towards the entrance to Little Bohemia, which was blocked by agents. Believing the trio was Dillinger and members of the gang; agents commanded the car to "Halt!" The occupants of the fleeing vehicle couldn't hear the order with the radio blasting and the falling snow dimmed their vision. Agents opened fire and bullets tore through the steel of the vehicle hitting its occupants. Later, Purvis would claim that agents meant to shoot at the tires, but all the bullets hit the middle and upper portion of the car. Morris climbed out the right door of the car and stumbled through the dark until he reached the kitchen porch of the lodge. He had been shot four times by FBI bullets. Hoffman who had also been wounded jumped from the car, and fled into the woods. Boisneau was mortally wounded, and would die from his wounds. At the time Dillinger playing cards, he heard the dogs barking but paid little attention. It was not until shots were fired before the outlaws were alerted. Dillinger shut out the lights, ran upstairs with Van Meter to quickly grab money and weapons. Witnesses in the Lodge later told agents that the outlaws never fired a shot during their escape from Little Bohemia.
Van Meter and Hamilton escaped out an upstairs window at the rear out the lodge. Forensics would argue that Hamilton could not have possibly jumped off the roof, after injuries he received on January 15, with shot four wounds to the groin and the loss a finger. Reports stated that Dillinger ran down the stairs and escaped out an unguarded back or side door. Wanatka, along with three women ran to the basement for cover. Moments later, Baszo and Traube joined Wanatka in the basement, as agents opened fire on the lodge with a hailstorm of bullets.
The nightmare had begun, as bullets ripped through the Lodge shattering windows and destroying everything in its path. Pat Reilly and Pat Cherrington were just returning to the lodge from St.Paul, when the shooting began. As Reilly approached the main entrance of the lodge, federal agents appeared out of the dark. A fast thinking Reilly reacted by shutting off the headlights, and jamming the car into reverse. He backed the car quickly onto the highway and spun the wheels to freedom, followed by FBI bullets. In doing so, he blew a rear wheel but managed to escape. After replacing the tire Reilly sped down the road and got struck in the mud. A farmer helped Reilly get the car out of the mud and then the outlaw headed for St. Paul. Dillinger, Van Meter, and Hamilton had slid down the steep shore banks at the rear of the Lodge, and headed north along Little Star Lake. They ran through the woods in pitch darkness for about a mile, and found their way to the highway on U.S. Route 51. The outlaws were in desperate need of a car when spotted a Model T across the highway at Mitchell's Lodge. They knocked on the door at the home of E.J. Mitchell and his wife. Mrs. Mitchell was very ill, and was lying on the couch when the outlaws arrived. The elderly couple opened the door and was greeted by three men. One of the outlaws (Presumably Hamilton) asked if they could get a drink of water. As Mitchell let them in, Hamilton calmly walked across the room and jerked the phone out of the wall.
Mrs. Mitchell recalled Dillinger as saying, "We don't want a drink, what we want is a car to make our getaway, because the federal officers are after us. Now I'm John Dillinger but I don't want you to be afraid, we're not going to hurt you any. We just came here to get a car, and I'm not as bad as they have me pictured. Now mother don't be afraid." Mrs. Mitchell described Dillinger as polite and the well mannered of the three men. The couple told Dillinger that the Model T hadn't ran all winter. When they acquired about the 1930 Ford Coupe parked outside, Mitchell told them the car belonged to Robert Johnson, who lived in a nearby cottage. Dillinger stayed with the Mitchell’s, while Van Meter and Hamilton paid Robert Johnson a visit. They knocked on the door and told Johnson that Mrs. Mitchell was ill and needed a ride to the hospital. Johnson quickly dressed and raced out the door to find Van Meter pointing a gun at him. He was ordered to drive the outlaws out of town. Before leaving, Dillinger ordered everyone outside on the porch. Mitchell objected because his wife was too ill, but Dillinger wrapped a blanket around Mrs. Mitchell, and helped her to the porch, before departing. Tommy Carroll had also headed North along the shore banks; he tried to catch up with Dillinger but soon realized he would have to make the escape alone. He walked two miles down the highway past Mitchell's resort until he came to the Northern Lights Resort. He spotted a Packard parked just outside the lodge, hot-wired the car and completely disappeared. Nelson, who could not refrain himself from battle with agents, was the last outlaw to escape the resort. The hostile outlaw grew angry with engaging agents, and became the aggressor and displaying extreme repugnance against his assailants. Before departing, Nelson exchanged gunfire with Purvis and then disappeared into the woods. After agents fired hundreds of rounds into the lodge for several hours, they heard a voice yell out from the lodge. Someone yelled, "Quit shooting and we'll come out!" Wanatka, Baszo, and Traube came out with their hands high in the air, followed by John Morris, the wounded CCC worker. The gunfire stopped briefly to allow the three women to exit the building. The women, Helen Gillis, Jean Delaney, and Marie Comforti came out shaken; surrendered without any conflicts, and were taken into custody. Purvis asked if anyone else was in the lodge. The women, who were relieved it was over, replied they did not know. Wanatka and his two bartenders had left their coats in the lodge and the weather was quite cold. The two asked Purvis, if they could retrieve their coats. Purvis denied Wanatka's request to enter the lodge, but allowed the men to drive to the nearby Koerner's Resort to get some coats.
Purvis claimed that there was heavy fire coming from an upstairs window, but the outlaws had already vacated the lodge and were in route to freedom. Other agents stated there was a machinegun mounted on the roof, but there is no evidence what so ever that supports this claim. After a thorough investigation regarding the machinegun on the roof, it is now clear that this claim is invalid. Nelson approached the shore banks where the rest of the gang had escaped, and headed south in the opposite direction of Dillinger and others. He made his way along the lake until he came to the home of G.W. Lang at Manitowish Lake. He ordered Lang to drive him out of town, but the two did not get far because of car problems. Next Nelson and Lang appeared at Koerner's Resort, near Spider Lake. The outlaw entered the resort, and demanded a car from Alvin Koerner at gunpoint. At this same moment, Wanatka had arrived at Koerner's Lodge and entered to find Koerner and Lang at the end of Nelson's gun. Wanatka was forced to join the party, and Nelson ordered them outside to the car. The three climbed into the car with Wanatka driving, Nelson sitting on the passenger side and Koerner in the back. The three men were just about to drive off, when a car full of men pulled up close to Koerner's car. Inside the car, was Special Agent Jay Newman, Agent Carter Baum, and Constable Christensen. Agent Baum was noted among federal agents for his deadly marksmanship. Nelson confronted the agents and ordered them to get out of the car. The three men, thinking that Nelson was a federal agent began to comply, when the outlaw opened fire with two forty-five automatic revolvers, before agents could exit the vehicle.
Baum was shot in the head and died moments later. Christensen was shot several times but would survive to tell his story. Newman attempted to go for a gun, but was knocked out cold when a bullet skimmed his head. Nelson turned and shot at Wanatka, as he jumped from the other vehicle, but missed as he drove into a snow bank. Nelson then stole the men’s car and sped off down the road. Back at Koerner’s Lodge, agents examined Baum’s machinegun and noted the weapon had not been fired. In reports to Hoover, agents stated that agent Baum had reloaded the weapon, and claimed he was responsible for the killing of the innocent CCC worker. Since Agent Baum was already dead, he would become the FBI’s alibi for the shooting of the victims in the car at the Little Bohemia Lodge. Can you believe it? The Bureau had conveniently hung the blame on one of their own agents, simply because he was dead. Hoover was still unaware of the results of the Little Bohemia raid, he announced that agents had Dillinger surrounded. Four hours later, he would announce that John Dillinger escaped the trap. Meanwhile with Johnson driving, Dillinger, Van Meter, and Hamilton raced towards St.Paul. They tried to avoid the main highway, and stay on gravel roads whenever possible. Johnson was dropped off around midnight in a remote area. Dillinger gave him seven dollars to get home, and a promise that his car would be recovered. The outlaws listened to the radio and learned the events that took place at the lodge. They also learned that the three women left behind had been captured. After driving all-night the outlaws were exhausted, and needed to rest. The car was pulled deep into the woods, and the trio dosed off for about an hour or so. Police searching for the outlaws, spotted them about twenty miles South of St.Paul. Suddenly, they were awakened by gunfire from the Dakota County Deputies, who caught the gang napping. The Deputies were shooting high-powered rifles from a distance of about a quarter of a mile away. Hamilton was hit wounded when either a bullet or a piece of scrap metal hit him in the back. Dillinger and Van Meter stood on the running boards of the car and fired back with pistols. The bullets came so close to officers that they decided to go after reinforcements. Hamilton’s would prove to be fatal, and he was bleeding very badly. The outlaw’s position the blood soaked car to block the road, until they spotted a new Sedan coming down the road. Roy Francis was out driving with his family when he was forced to stop by the outlaws at gunpoint. The desperate outlaws hijacked the car and left the family stranded on the side of the road. After ditching the car, they continued in the direction of St.Paul.
Police believed that the outlaws abandoned the car outside of St.Paul to stage a scene and throw pursuers off his trail; believing that Dillinger was actually in Chicago. The blood stained bullet-ridden car would become the most publicized vehicle in America when found by police. Police noticed large amounts of blood in the vehicle and thought that it may belong to Dillinger. No man could lose this much blood and possibly survive. The outlaws continued their journey to St.Paul to seek medical help for Hamilton, but soon realized that he would not survive the trip. Hamilton’s condition was growing worse by the minute. Dillinger and Van Meter found an abandoned shack just outside Illinois; they left Hamilton, while they went to get some bandages and food. Hamilton died on April 27,1934, just four days after receiving the fatal wound. Other reports claimed that Hamilton might have survived until May 3. In a grave dug by Dillinger and Karpis gang members, lye was poured all over Hamilton's face and body to his hide his identity. For unknown reasons, Dillinger placed a horseshoe on his chest. By May 15, 1934, according to official records, the reward on Dillinger would be increased to $25,000, authorized by Congress in the discretion of the Attorney General. Many historians claim that Dillinger was worth twenty thousand dollars at the time of his death, however, new evidence shows the true amount was a cool twenty-five thousand. Based on a survey by Consumer Price Index (CPI), we can estimate the value of the dollar with inflation included over a sixty-year-period. This gives us the true dollar amount of the reward offered for Dillinger. This means that $25,000 in 1934, would be equal to the sum $283,500.00 today. This was over a quarter of a million dollars reward on his head. This was the largest reward ever offered for any outlaw in 1934. Over a year would go by before Hamilton's body would be recovered. The swallow grave was discovered outside of Oswego, Illinois on August 28, 1935. Hamilton's body was so badly eaten away from lye that dental records had to be used to identify him. According to Coroner reports, the bones on his right hand had fallen completely apart. The FBI claimed this was the hand with three fingers missing. Although these reports were the key to Hamilton’s identification, the FBI has remained very secretive over the years regarding the documents, if they actually exist. Hamilton’s index and middle fingers were missing, earning him the nickname "Three Finger Jack." Long before his body was found, the FBI still held reservations; and was convinced that Hamilton was very much alive. During the time of Hamilton's disappearance the FBI would crown him Public Enemy Number One.
After the FBI located Hamilton’s body, his sister, Anna (Hamilton) Steve, reburied him at the Oswego Town Cemetery. He was buried in a gray linen casket. Hamilton was the son of Baptist minister, yet he turned out to be an outlaw. He left behind his wife and two young children. According to an Oswego custodian, Hamilton was buried over a sinkhole, and his casket has sunk below the surface some 10 to 15 feet over the years. There are conflicting stories that this body wasn’t Hamilton, and that the outlaw even attended a family reunion in the 1950’s.
The day after Hamilton's death, Reilly, Dillinger, Van Meter, and Carroll all met in St. Paul. Pat Reilly gave Van Meter $2500, and everyone headed for Chicago. Reilly would later be captured on July 1,1934. He would give the FBI phone numbers, and several addresses written in codes by the gang. Reilly would also add another piece to the Little Bohemia puzzle. He revealed a possible Piquett/Wanatka connection. He explained that on the day the gang had arrived at the lodge, he witnessed Nelson giving Emil Wanatka a sealed envelope. Reilly didn’t know the contents of the envelope, but he did know the letter was sent from a man named Louis Cernoky. Cernoky was the owner of Louie’s Place in Fox River Grove, Illinois, which was a known hang out for Baby Face Nelson and underworld criminals with money to burn. Cernoky was an old friend of Wanatka’s and a trusted associate of Nelson. Whether Piquett knew Cernoky is uncertain, but both Piquett and Wanatka were familiar with several figures of the underworld. The contents of the letter remain a mystery, but Nelson had to have known the significance of this letter. Nelson was a character of suspiciousness; he trusted very few people and would have never passed a sealed letter to Wanatka without knowing the contents. A good guess would be that the letter contained a recommendation of approval, to welcome Nelson and his guests to the resort with assurance that Wanatka would be taken care of handsomely. On April 23, after the fiasco of the Little Bohemia raid, a chain reaction of events began to unfold. Nearly one thousand federal and local authorities joined the search for John Dillinger in the northern woods of Wisconsin. Authorities argued that Dillinger’s escape was due to the failure of federal agents for refusing to cooperate with Michigan State Police officers. Chippewa County Authorities stated that the FBI had told them the State Police were not needed. This paints a clear picture that the FBI wanted all the credit. It was noted that the State Police could have been a valuable asset in the raid. Possibly even preventing the escape of the outlaws by setting up roadblocks on all the main highways. There were also other searches being conducted over all the mid-western states. Federal agents announced they would have Dillinger within a week, but doubt was expressed whether he would be taken alive. In fact, the FBI ordered a Shoot To Kill on sight order, and had no intention of bringing Dillinger in alive.
The Justice Department could not believe that Dillinger could escape so frequently even when completely surrounded. J.Edgar Hoover was furious at the way Dillinger repeatedly disgraced the FBI. On April 24, federal agents announced from Washington that they would get Dillinger hopefully without the expense of a trial. Shoot to kill and if necessary, ask questions later, was the order given to hundreds federal and state officers in the hunt for Dillinger. Attorney General Joseph B. Keenan in charge of criminal prosecutions and J. Edgar Hoover expressed confidence that Dillinger would soon be captured. Keenan went on to say, "We got George ‘Machinegun’ Kelly, and we'll get John Dillinger just the same." After the death of Federal Agent Baum, President Roosevelt demanded Congress to rush an enactment of the anti-crime bills drafted by the Department of Justice. This proposed legislation would change the laws, and make it a federal crime to kill a Government agent, which would help fortify criminal laws. This would also give Hoover the authority and power, that he longed for. Roosevelt conferred in the Whit House with Republican Hatton Summers of Texas, who was chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Summers promised President Roosevelt that he would take immediate action on the proposed legislation and anti-crime bills. Meanwhile, Police had received hundreds of sightings on the outlaw gang, but very few proved to be reliable. Dillinger seemed to be everywhere and was spotted in several different locations, all at the same time. The search for Dillinger shifted to Milwaukee and Waukesha counties when police received reports that four heavily armed men had been seen in the area. At 8:00 a.m., Richard Beckwith, and John Miller notified police that a car containing four armed men, had sped through town doing about eighty miles an hour. The occupants of the car made a sharp turn in front of a streetcar, and pulled the machine into a car barn. Beckwith and Miller went on to say that the driver had a sawed off shotgun beside him, and the other men all carried revolvers. This tip turned out to be another dead end. Evidently this must have been some other outlaw group in the area. Meanwhile in Philadelphia the most expert machine gunners were dispatched to aid in the Dillinger hunt. R. George Harvey, Chief of the local division announced, "They’re taking my best gunners." He stated that the men chosen for the hunt have been practicing for years with machineguns, rifles, and revolvers. His only hope was that the men have the luck to catch the desperado. Harley added that the FBI knows the identities of every person acquainted with Dillinger, and every possible hideout from Sault Ste. Marie to New Orleans.
Other Authorities were searching Northern Wisconsin to Central Minnesota believing that Dillinger may be hiding somewhere in the area. The posse of lawmen also expressed the possibility that the gunman could be hiding in a northern woods sanctuary. More reports came in from officials who believed that Dillinger was in either St. Paul or Chicago. Several newspapers reported that the Justice Department was waging one of the greatest manhunts that Wisconsin had ever seen. These articles went on to report that Dillinger left two dead, and four wounded. But the fact is that John Dillinger did not kill anyone at Little Bohemia. It was federal agent’s bullets that killed one, and wounded two others at the resort. Still the blame would fall on Dillinger. Authorities agreed that John Dillinger had to be aware that he would be shot on sight.
On April 25, Headlines announced Dillinger had been seen in Indiana as he raced hard for shelter. Delaware County Authorities and Federal agents received seemingly authentic information that the outlaw was in the vicinity of Muncie. Under the direction of O.P. Snodgrass, seven shift raids were staged in an effort to catch or kill Dillinger. In St. Paul, authorities were convinced that Dillinger was hiding within city limits. Within the Boundaries of the Twin Cities, an army of heavily armed Federal, State, and City officials joined forces in the search. Police officials protected by bulletproof vests set out to find Dillinger with orders to kill the nations foremost criminal. The men constituted a thorough search of their city in order to smoke him out. Several squad cars were on the lookout for any suspicious characters. County officers conducted a search of all cars leaving the city. Melvin Passolt, Superintendent of the State Bureau and Criminal Apprehension, announced that he was restricting his operations in the search for Dillinger to the Twin Cities. Under the instructions of Hugh H. Clegg, agents were investigating every tip to establish the whereabouts of Dillinger, who had escaped several traps, set by federal agents. Dillinger was conducting a one-man rebellion against combined State and Federal authorities. Officials figured out that Dillinger preferred St. Paul as the base of operations. Sheriff George Gelatt called Dillinger the "Super Desperado," who was about to flee the St. Paul vicinity. He continued to say that he found a costly seven-passenger twelve-cylinder automobile concealed in a private garage in Rochester, Minnesota. The car was reported stolen, possibly by John Dillinger on March 9, from the chauffeur of Mrs. Herman Stern.
The chauffeur positively identified Dillinger as the outlaw, who took the car at gunpoint. The car was supposedly concealed in the private garage so Dillinger could use the car as needed. By April 26, federal agents were grasping at straws during the hopeless search for Dillinger. They turned their investigation to the women captured at Little Bohemia, in hopes of finding the outlaw. After hours of unsuccessful questioning of the gangster women, agents relinquished their interrogation. Agents stated that Dillinger has taken the lives of thirteen people, and stolen more than $500,000 since November of 1933. The Bureau revealed a secret army stationed at strategic locations in the Midwest, and expected to have Dillinger very soon. These groups were to be located in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan. The groups consisted of five thousand State, County, and local police officers. Rumors also arose that even the "Underworld" planned to turn up the hottest man in recent history. This is the same underworld that Hoover would claim for years, did not exist. On April 27, newspapers announced that Baby Face Nelson had been hiding at Squaw Lake, (near the Lac Du Flameau Indian Reservation) since he escaped from Koerner's Resort where he killed Federal Agent Baum. In the getaway car, Nelson stole from federal agents; he raced towards the Michigan border. He lost control of his car and got stuck in the mud on North Creek Road some twenty miles from Mercer, and fled on foot into the woods. Nelson walked for nineteen miles through the woods in pitch darkness and falling snow. After walking most of the night, he came across the home of Ollie Catfish, a Chippewa Indian. It was in early morning hours, and Catfish was away visiting relatives in Flambeau, Wisconsin. Mary Schroeder and her two children, Dorothy and Gertrude were alone at the cabin. Schroeder was the niece of Ollie and Maggie Catfish, and was just visiting at the time. She had just begun baking bread, when her daughter Dorothy announced that a man was coming. According to Schroeder, Nelson said, "Hello Mother could I buy lunch from you? Your baking smells good." She invited him in, and cooked him bacon with eggs, fresh bread and coffee. During the meal Schroeder told Nelson that her aunt and uncle would be coming home soon. Nelson gave Schroeder two dollars for the meal, and then handed Dorothy a dollar. He spotted a cot next to the wall and asked if he could lay down and rest for awhile. He told Schroder that he had walked a long way and was tired. She agreed, and Nelson stretched out on the cot and relaxed. Soon afterwards, Ollie Catfish and his wife arrived at the cabin.
Nelson got up and shook hands with Ollie and his wife Maggie. Nelson talked briefly with Catfish, and then asked if he could possibly stay the night. He told Catfish it would be dark soon and he wouldn’t be able to find his way through the woods. Nelson stayed with the family for three days. He gave Schroder $70.00 for room and board. On the third day, he requested that Catfish accompany him to find his way back to the road. On the way, Nelson spotted a car, which belonged to Adolph Goetz. Goetz was an off duty Deputy, and a postal mail carrier from Merrill. Goetz was doing some fishing when Nelson and Catfish appeared. At gunpoint, Nelson took the car and gave Goetz $20.00 to get home. Catfish later stated that the outlaw was carrying three guns and stayed at his Squaw Lake home for three days. Nelson next ordered Catfish into the car and the two drove off. Low on fuel, Nelson stopped for gas in town. He gave the attendant a ten-dollar bill and told him to keep the change. The outlaw drove for a couple more miles, before allowing Catfish go free. Before departing, Nelson gave Catfish $75.00 and then drove off.
Bringing the total to $148.00 paid to Catfish and his family for refuge. The next day, Nelson showed up near Greenwood, Wisconsin, and stashed the car in a farmer's shed. He told the farmer that he burned out a connecting rod, and explained that he was a CCC worker and a friend would be by to pick up the car. He paid the farmer $20.00 to drive him to Marshfield, Wisconsin. In Marshfield, Nelson purchased a used 1929 Chevrolet from Marshfield Hardware and Auto Company. He drove straight to St.Paul, arriving on Friday, April 27. When Adolph Goetz later recovered his car; he noted that only the keys and a road map were missing. On April 28, newspapers announced that Tommy Carroll was surrounded in a swamp near Chicago's suburbs. The article went on to say that the posse was a combination of federal agents, Indian guides, and local farmers of Wisconsin. The St.Paul gangster had somehow managed to slip through the net, and escaped the posse. At first, Police believed they were hot on the trail of Tommy Carroll, but later learned that Baby Face Nelson had been in the area. Newspapers and radio's shouted the news throughout the country, "BABY FACE FOOLS FEDERALS!" The story stated that Nelson had eluded his pursuers again as police searched the woods. A short time later, Nelson was identified as the driver who fled from Special Deputy Al Johnson near Solon Springs, Wisconsin. Johnson was patrolling the highway, when he attempted to halt Nelson in the fleeing vehicle. The outlaw responded with a roar of gunfire that shattered the windshield of the officer's car. Johnson described the outlaw’s car as a blue sedan, which sped of in the direction of Minneapolis.
Other reports came in that Nelson had been hiding just south of Ashland, Wisconsin. On April 30, a report came in stating that four men disarmed a suburban police squad in Bellwood, on the outskirts of Chicago. The four men fled after slugging policeman Harry Wayland. The confrontation occurred when a car traveling at high speeds ran a red light. The officers were in hot pursuit with the siren sounding when the outlaws accelerated out of sight and pulled into Nieman's station for fuel. One of the outlaws identified as John Hamilton commanded the orders "Ten Gallons Quick!" to the attendant on duty. Witnesses stated Nelson stepped out of the car with a machinegun to survey the road and spotted police officers approaching. The other outlaws were identified as Van Meter, Nelson, and Joseph Fox. Officers were positive of the outlaw’s identities, and added that Dillinger was absent from the group. The officers pulled into the station and cautiously approached the vehicle, as it was about to leave. The outlaws fired shots at the police officers to intimidate them. Officer Wayland was knocked unconscious as he attempted to draw his weapon. The other officers were forced to give up their weapons, and walk away from the car with their hands in the air.
Although these men were positively identified as members of the Dillinger gang, officers were mistaken. John Hamilton was already deceased, and Joseph Fox was not even with the gang at this time. The rest of the gang was all ready tucked away in various hideouts in Chicago and St. Paul. These daring men may have been part of the underworld, or some other gang on the run, but they were not members of the much-sought Dillinger gang.
On May 2, the second blood stained getaway car, stolen from Dr. Roy F. Francis, was found at 3333 North Leavitt in Chicago. Again Police felt strongly that the blood found was that of John Dillinger. Officers realized from the amount of blood loss; this injured person was in serious condition. Police reported Dillinger left evidence that he had been ready for battle. The outlaws had removed the back window of the car, which made it easier to shoot at pursuers. Several Bullet casings were also found on the front seat. On this same day, Billie Frechette pleaded not guilty to the charges of harboring Dillinger in a St.Paul courtroom. Her bond was set at $60,000. Security at the jail was beefed up to prevent Dillinger from breaking her out. Piquett was keeping Dillinger well informed of court proceedings, and passing messages to Billie. In the meantime, more “Shoot to kill” orders were issued on Dillinger. The orders were given to an army of officers patrolling Chicago’s streets, searching for the outlaw.
Chicago Police conducted several raids on well-known gang haunts, following every clue on the whereabouts of Dillinger. The belief was that John Dillinger was hiding somewhere in Chicago, nursing his wounds like a hunted animal driven to its den. On May 4, in Fostoria, Ohio, the First National bank was robbed of $15,000. The leader of the robbery was positively identified as John Dillinger. Ralph Barbour, an assistant cashier, and Mrs. Ruth Harris, a bookkeeper; were used as human shields by the robbers as they made their getaway. Police held back from gunplay in fear of hitting hostages, until they had a clear shot at the outlaws. During a brief shoot-out with the outlaws, Chief of Police Frank P. Culp was seriously injured. Although this robbery carried the characteristics of a typical Dillinger operation, he was not involved. Dillinger was lying low in Chicago, after the death of John Hamilton. If the name John Dillinger were even mentioned during a robbery, police would appear out of the woodwork and sirens would scream. John Dillinger’s name was big news from the lips of witnesses to the newsboys peddling papers for 3 cents on the corner. Ten thousand police officers and federal agents swarmed like locus over all the highways from Northern Ohio, to Indiana. Police also concentrated search efforts near Chicago, where the bloodstained car was discovered. Police Officers stated they would put forth every effort to intercept the outlaw leader until he is caught. Dillinger was growing tired of this game of running, hiding, and living the life of a hunted man. He often expressed the dream of "One big haul," or one last big robbery to finance a permanent escape to South America. On May 5, only twenty five days after Eddie Green was shot to death by agents, his wife Beth was sentenced to fifteen months for harboring Dillinger. About the same time, a report from Indianapolis stated that two suspicious men and a woman were noted as making inquires about chartering an airplane at the municipal airport. Even through the men were reported to be members of the Dillinger gang, they turned out to be three federal agents. This was the day that Congress passed twelve anti-crime bills, robbing banks, which made it a federal offense to rob a bank or kill a federal agent. On May 9, while in custody, Jean Delaney told federal agents that she had rented a room with Tommy Carroll on the second floor of a tavern in Fox River Grove, located about fifty miles north of Chicago. She said Baby Face Nelson and his wife Helen also rented a room at the tavern and stayed for two or three days. Delaney was released a few days later and re-joined Carroll. On May 15, Billie Frechette's trial began on charges of harboring and aiding a criminal. Gunner H. Nordbye was the presiding Judge.
Frechette was charged with driving the getaway car for Dillinger during his escape from the Lincoln Court Apartments in St.Paul on South Lexington Avenue. Dr. Clayton May and Augusta Salt were also on trial for their part in aiding Dillinger, after treating his wounds from the shoot-out with agents in St. Paul. It was Eddie Green who had taken Dillinger to Dr. May for a gunshot wound in his leg. Dr. May and his assistant Augusta Slay treated Dillinger wound, but never reported the incident. On Green's deathbed he would implicate Dr. May, as he repeatedly called out and asked to see the Doctor. Dillinger had paid Dr. May a thousand dollars, even through the Doctor testified that he never received any money for his services. He claimed the outlaws later threatened him on the telephone, warning him that he’d better keep his mouth shut. When the court recessed for lunch, Frechette casually walked out with the jurors without being noticed. She was spotted in a crowd of people and promptly recaptured. Frechette innocently giggled, and said that she was just going out to lunch. On May 16, the FBI received a tip from an informant stating that Nelson paid a visit to Van Dee's Café and bar on south Crawford Avenue in Chicago. The informant stated that Nelson had attended a meeting with Al Van Dee Houten, the proprietor of the cafe. The FBI kept a close on eye the cafe for several days, but Nelson never showed up. It is believed that Al Van Dee Houten was holding money for the outlaw. On May 23, Frechette was found guilty of conspiring to harbor a criminal. She received the maximum sentence of two years in a federal prison in Milan, Michigan. Conspiring to harbor carried a much stiffer sentence than a harboring charge. Dr. May was also sentenced to serve two years in Leavenworth prison. Augusta Salt was found innocent and acquitted for her part in treating Dillinger. Bonnie and Clyde would make front-page headlines on this same day, after they were ambushed and shot to death on a deserted road near Gibsland, Louisiana. On May 24, in South Holland, Illinois, a disastrous attempted robbery occurred at the Trust and Savings Bank. Just hours before the robbery took place, police reported that they spotted five bandits near Gary, Indiana. The bandits entered the bank wearing handkerchiefs over their faces to conceal their identities and proceeded to rob the bank. Jacob DeYoung, a bank guard, opened fire on the robbers with a high powered hunting rifle. One of the robbers was shot to death and two others were wounded, but managed to escape. Afterwards, DeYoung stated that he was sorry he did not kill them all.
He claimed that these were the same robbers who killed his son during a robbery on February 10.