John Dillinger (d. 1934)
"Our birth is nothing but our death begun, as tapers waste the moment they take fire." ~ Edward Young "I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." ~ Mark Twain
Young teen John H. Dillinger stole a car in Mooresville, and a great criminal spree began.
He was born on June 22, 1903 in Indianapolis, but by the age of 21 he was already convicted and jailed for nine years for holding up a grocery store. After his release he immediately began robbing banks throughout the midwest. Police caught and jailed him twice, but both times he escaped with help of accomplices, earning him early notoriety and attention from the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover, who put the entire town of Mooresville under surveillance, lest he return to his parent’s farm.
On January 25, 1934, John allegedly shot and killed East Chicago, Indiana police officer William O’Malley during another bank robbery. While awaiting trial he escaped from his cell in the Crown Point jail. and drove a stolen sheriff’s car into Illinois. By fleeing across state lines he committed a federal crime, and thus the ecstatic Hoover gained jurisdiction over his capture.
Hoover and his “G-men” would begin a six-month pursuit of John and his gang, who would escape from trap after trap. Most notably, the FBI tracked him to the Little Bohemia Lodge in Mercer, Wisconsin. Tipped off seconds before, the group escaped, but not before the FBI men shot three innocent people, killing one.
Embarrassed, Hoover declared John “Public Enemy #1” on his 31st birthday, June 22 1934. Through betrayal by his girlfriend, Anna Sage, the “woman in red”, they tracked him to the Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934, where agents ambushed and shot him dead outside as he left the movie “Manhattan Melodrama”.
The Cook County coroner’s office displayed his body to thousands before being returned to the Harvey Funeral Home in Mooresville.
He lies today in the ground in Crown Hill Cemetery, Section 44, Lot 94, less than 3 miles from where he was born.