Was John Dillinger Really Done In By The G-Men?


For a more detailed and updated version of this post, CLICK HERE…includes rare wanted poster.

On This Date In History: In the late 1920’s and 1930’s, lots of gangsters roamed the countryside. Public Enemy Number One was determined by the Bureau of Investigations, which in 1935 became the FBI. On July 22, 1934 the Bureau gunned down Public Enemy Number 1 John Dillinger. The Bureau got a tip from brothel operator Anna Sage who gave information concerning Dillinger’s whereabouts under the threat of deportation to her native Romania on morals charges. Sage is the original woman in red, which has been also called the lady in red. The story is that she attended the Biograph Theatre in Chicago and when she emerged, she was identified from her red dress and thus the man whom she was with was to be considered Dillinger. She came out and the agents promptly shot her date. That was that, the headlines were trumpeted across the nation and the photo above was circulated to prove that Dillinger was indeed dead.

But….a supposed authority on the history of American Crime, Jay Robert Nash, says the FBI got the wrong guy. Nash says the man who was killed outside of the theatre was really a patsy. James Lawrence was considered a low level thug who was used by Sage and a crooked Indiana detective to unwittingly stand in for Dillinger. If you notice, the dead guy looks similar to the Dillinger photo on the left, but to me he looks a bit more like Jackie Gleason than the lean looking photo of the alive version of Public Enemy Number 1. The FBI claimed that Dillinger had plastic surgery and that explains any discrepancies. But the Cook County autopsy report was supposedly lost for 30 years. After it was found, the claim is that the dead guy is not the same height or weight of Dillinger. Dillinger had blue eyes whereas the corpse had brown eyes. The corpse was missing a distinguishing birthmark and had more teeth than the notorious bank-robber. Evidence showed the dead guy had a rheumatic heart. Had Dillinger had such a condition, he would have been prevented from being in the Navy.

The FBI, of course, stands by their story and claims the record, including fingerprints, support the truth that the G-Man got his man!!! I dunno…but I do know that Dillinger was never spotted again. Seems to me that if he were alive, it would be unlikely that he “went straight.” But then again, the guy was dead, they couldn’t interrogate him to determine if he was in fact Dillinger and they certainly couldn’t read him his Miranda rights. Back in those days it was “shoot first and ask questions later”….kinda like that good neighbor in Texas. Anyway, if you see a very old man that looks like the alive version of Dillinger, call the authorities immediately.

81 Responses

  1. Hello; I am the copyright owner of the “Dillinger Death Mask”. I have owned two original master castings of him taken in the morgue. I sell castings from these original molds to collectors. I have morgue photos that have never been published; formerly owned by a corrupt Chicago Detective named Joe Galvin. I believe these morgue photos will prove it was not Dillinger that was shot at the Biograph. This info will be released in conjunction with the new movie. Best regards, Neal P.S. You have a nice site!

  2. P.S. I also have an original copy of the dead man’s fingerprints. This also came from the Galvin Collection. The prints are Dillingers, but they appear to have been done in advance of his “death”.

  3. Thanx Neal. Hope you have great success with your project.

  4. They hardly ever mention that Dillinger’s headstone at his grave in Indianapolis is wrong too.

  5. How is it wrong?

  6. 1. Dillinger used acid on his fingertips thus no indeitifiable prints — rules out the fingerprints you say you have.
    2. As frequently (oh about 100% of the time) is the case with ‘thru and thru’ head wounds, the face bloats at the wound site — kinda changes the dynamics regarding the differences in facial appearance of Dillinger — and did you take into account that he had one of the first known ‘plastic surgeries’ ever?

    I think you are barking up a dead corpse.

  7. Im my opinion it wasn’t Dillinger that day, but i also think Oswald was a patsy, 2pac’s still alive and Hitler survived after WW2. 🙂

  8. Whether or not it was John Dillinger shot that evening at the Biograph, the very fact that people are still talking about him is a testimony to both his notoriety and his continuing popularity as a pop icon. The notion of his escaping is a “romantic” perspective to say the least. He definitely had courage and charisma. I’m working on a novel about him and I may have missed the boat with the release of Mann’s blockbuster, Public Enemy? Regardless, great site/forum. Thanx!

  9. The bullet through his face may have caused some feature distortion, but it couldn’t make him grow teeth. The dead man had one more than Dillinger had.

  10. Neal you are right I agree, being a family member of John Dillinger we know the truth. But I love hearing the different theories.

  11. So, what is the truth? Please share. Is it that they got the wrong guy? If so, where did he go?

  12. They shot Jimmy Lawrence, a wanna be tough guy, who actually was a bit feminine, and possibly a cousin of Dillinger’s. Jimmy had poor eyesight and was self-conscious
    about wearing those thick black framed glasses. He was
    thrilled when they came out with the thin wire-framed type
    of prescription glasses that he had on the night they executed him. His Ruby ring was one of his prize possessions
    and Dillinger never wore any jewelry of any kind, especially a ring that could get caught up in clothing if he needed to pull his gun. Jimmy’s heart condition caused him to gain weight, which was the reason for the plastic surgery that he had done to his face, to give him a leaner looking appearance. Jimmy felt that smoking cigars made him look more important, therefore he always carried one,
    Johnny never smoked cigars, or wore white shoes.

  13. so what happened to Dillinger if he wasn’t killed? Did he reunite with black birdie? I don’t know much about him. I know as much as I know from the recent movie.

  14. After Dillinger was “killed” that was it, end of story.. But there are so many gaping holes in this story, and also a lot of hear’say so its really hard to determine whats truth and whats fiction. Many people, including myself believe Dillinger (a very smart and cunning man) deceived the FBI and retired somewhere to live out the rest of his days in peace and quiet. Maybe one day some light will be shed on this story! Maybe Purvis found out something we dont know yet and took his own life because he failed in capturing Dillinger🙂

  15. smile

  16. Whatever the reality is after seeing the movie “Public Enemy” 1 thougt must arrives in everyones mind why easent he arrested before being executed and a cunning man like him cannot be a fool going to watch a movie when nearly evey partner of his was dead….

  17. An arrogant sense of invincibility perhaps?

  18. i think da person dat got killed dat night was just a decoy of him n then john went back for PURVIS n killed him with his own hand making it seem like he killed himself

  19. Think Dillinger would be the kind of guy who could just disappear after that?

  20. did that last bank ever get robbed?????

    if it did maybe he did leave the country with alot of cash.

  21. the acid on his fingertips did not work… they could still tell the fingerprints were his, because the acid only took a little of the prints off, not all of them.

  22. We at OverstockDistributing.com feel there may just be that chance where he could have survived. The fact that not all people are caught could have some meaning. The other facts mentioned are also interesting.. how many people have been wrongly accused and put in jail?

    However, what about this Jimmy guys family? Nobody said anything? This Jimmy guy just died instead and no family came out? Has anyone heard anything about that?

  23. Yeah Im wondering if that train job was ever done?? If it was, maybe he got in on that action and took his money and ran!! He absolutely was the DOPEST Gangster back in the day thats for sure!!

  24. I dont think that it was dillinger who they killed at that theater that night. He was to smart to go thier when he knew that all of his friends were already dead.

  25. Who cares…he was a murderer and a thief…that simple!

  26. Can’t believe people think he wasn’t killed…. there were dozens of witnesses and his dead body on view at the shooting and after. If anybody thinks he lived happily ever after in hiding … I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  27. Regardless of the truth, the recent movie intrigued me enough to google Mr. Dillinger, which I think says alot. I mean look at the interest in this man 70+ years later. All of the previous comments are very interesting. I must also add that this movie has finally made me a HUGE Johnny Depp fan.

  28. Chill out Adrian, you obviously care enough to come here 2 days in a row to post your thoughts, too!

    People like the idea of him making it out alive because his story is romanticized. It was the Depression… people were broke and he never stole from citizens…only the banks. People were kind of enthralled with that idea…stick it to the man, whatever you want to call it. Everyone loves a mystery and maybe some people figure he was too smart to be set up to die.

  29. OOooOOhh Every body!!! live is life! love make life and life make death…
    so just LET DREAM MAKE US DREAMING!! NO?!

  30. HE WASN’T KILLED!
    AND CONTINUED HIS LOVELY LIFE IN WISCONSIN WITH BILLIE!!!

  31. look at the ears in both photos here

  32. Look at the jaw line. the dead guy does not have the thin facial features. and Have you ever seem a GSW to the Nugget? I work in the ER and and the swelling is localized to the wound area and the eyes bulge. What ever the truth is we are all here talking about it. Jack went to Cuba to chill and lived with Belle. He was smart. All his friends were dead, now the papers say he’s dead. I’d lay low. Buts thats just me.

  33. I’m a huge fan of Dillingers, yes he murdered and robbed but back in the those days we can only imagine how people fought to provide for their families. He was a very smart man, he stole from the rich, never bothered the poor and never let himself be put in a position where there was no way out, hence my believing it WASN’T him that night at the theatre. The last thing a person would want to do in his shoes at that time (him being Public Enemy No. 1), was to walk around in public, he was way too smart for that. Anyways, its the mystery of the whole story that keeps us interested in him, its enthralling, entertaining and most people would be hoping for a happy ending, heres to you Johnny boy!!!🙂

  34. My Dad passed on July 24, 1977… he lived an honest life from 1940.

  35. John Dillinger loved clam soup. The Biloxi Theatre served several soups, none clam. Chowder fever killed our man.

  36. I have a comment John Dillenger was my great great uncle🙂 Pretty cool huh?

  37. I too watched the film and wanted to know more about John Dillinger, and I like the idea he did outsmart everyone, cos I did think it was odd that he would be so silly to not go into hiding, but hey ho, we’ll never know………………………………………..

    ps I liked what Yo Adrian wrote!!!! 8 )

  38. He would’nt have been so silly!!!

  39. john dillinger will be missed for a long time rest in peace john dillinger

  40. Depression or not, romanticised or not…. that facts remain…he was a murderer and a thief.
    There are plenty of murders and robberies in the US every minute of the day, committed by people who are ‘nice’ people, the bank staff were still traumatised (probably for life), and the families of the people he murdered were decent people also. e’g bank guard just doing his job. At the day just because someone purports to be a gentleman it does not excuse murder and robbery, there were millions of other people in the depression in worse circumstances who did not resort to being a common criminal.

  41. The FBI killed innocent people and their own men trying to capture Dillinger. Doesn’t that make them murderers? Did they go to prison? None of them were even charged with anything. These days the would have gone to prison for killing innocent people. They were just as bad if not worse then Dillinger. If they killed the wrong person of course they would cover it up. It was wrong an innocent man was killed again, not by Dillinger but by the FBI. Who is the criminal here? If Dillinger did get away, good, because so did all of those FBI agents who killed innocent people trying to catch him.

  42. I would like to hear a little more from JDJ about her Father’s passing. I have a niece who worked in Manitowish Waters. She was told by an older gentleman that John Dillinger went to visit/stay in his Uncle’s cabin. Supposedly this was after the Biograph incident. Also, my Father who passed-on on May 5th 1973 had talked about getting a glass of water from a man, back in the 1930’s , who he felt was Baby Face Nelson. He said that the car that he saw at this home was one that had been mentioned on either the radio or in the papers as being a car in question with the robberies. My Dad stated that he quickly drank the water and ‘got the heck out of there’. Not telling anyone until years later. Please reply again JDJ

  43. Look, Johnny D was obviously smart enough to rob banks,get out of prisons/jails, escape many gun battles…he was experienced and most positively not an idiot. He did not go out and watch a movie when he knew they were close on his tail. The fact that he went to the police department in the movie wasnt true but was put there to make it seem that he did not care if he was seen. In conclusion Johnny D did indeed escape with money and no one ever knew it. Purvis commited suicide for having found out he failed to capture his number one target.Period.

  44. After seeing the autopsy photos of JD, it seemed to me (an artist who paints people and knows a little about facial structure) that the body and face looked way too chubby and had a different bone structure than the real JD. It seems logical too, when weighing evidence – that for the Feds to deport the “Lady in Red” after making a deal with her – they knew that they were duped (AGAIN). Also, it’s likely the real reason why Hoover assigned Purvis to low-level cases after the 1934 “look-alike killing” is obvious too: Alvin screwed up 1 too many times. The plastic surgery story was an attempt to keep the final screw-up hidden from the public. The autopsy – when it finally turned-up 30 years after JDs death revealed a brown eyed “double” who had a heart condition. Common sense – 75 years in hindsight – reveals the very real possibility the FBI learned some hard lessons from an incredibly ballsy public enemy. The truth is more interesting than Hollywood in this case.! WOW – –
    I’ll bet a bunch of the Dillinger clan know about the truth. I’d like to see a movie about that! WWOW.

  45. Thank you for your learned opinion.

  46. Him and that big ******* of his are still goin’ STRONG!

  47. As eye-opening as the opinions are, no-one has shown anything other than hearsay. An artist cannot see the bone structure in a person’s face after a death, regardless how good he thinks he is, if this point is to be argued, take a role in the military, and take photos of the fallen friends who have been deceased for more than 24 hours, without preservatives, without ice, with a wound in their face.

    I appreciate opinions, and i am a man of science, however, have some fucking respect for the family, still living, that lost this man.

    The conspiracy theories, as wonderfully proven as you think they might be, dont mean shit.

    This case is from 1934. You are arguing a case from photos that are 76 years old.

    Everyone wants the authorities to be wrong, and i admit, i would love for JD to be alive now, god knows, he deserves to be. You don’t get real men like him anymore. But the fact remains, that this is a slight on his family to pretend that their relative was not laid to rest, and an insult to pretend that they are living a lie, whether it be true, or not.

    I apologize if i come across abrupt. I just feel that the man deserves peace under the pretense that he was laid to rest. This was not posted under any religious, political or pseudo-patriotic falsehood. I am merely a 22 year old Australian soldier, with an interest in the case.

    Any rebuttals will be met with an open mind, i merely needed to say what i felt was necessary.

    Luke.

  48. Everyone seems to be making this guy out to be a god. Look at some of the more renouned criminals of our recorded times. They all made mistakes. What made Dillinger so great that he was immune to human error. Not to mention citations of his noticable and ever growing ego. If you had avoided the nation’s top investigative authorities, you’d be a little cocky too. The guy’s dead and conspiracy theories are boring.

  49. ‘i think da person dat got killed dat night was just a decoy of him n then john went back for PURVIS n killed him with his own hand making it seem like he killed himself’

    What kind of retard actually writes like this? The english language is going the way of the dodo, any idiot with a computer can add to it’s demise……..
    Bran

  50. Hey man. I just approve them as long as they fall under the guidelines. I don’t grade on grammar.

  51. Theoretically who had more to gain from his death? If you look at this from a cultural standpoint, the [FBI] had more to gain. They needed to catch/kill him – from a political standpoint and because of his “Robin Hood” reputation. Who had the resources and the influence (politically and through the media)to cover up a botched attempt? The [FBI].
    The “facts” that people talk about are almost 80 years old. Eye color, fingerprints, weight, height… I’m not saying that we couldn’t weigh people or know their height then – I am saying that our ability to identify anyone then was rudimentary.
    Whatever the “truth” is I think it has far more to do with who held the power and the resources and the ability to “create” the “truth” then what the truth really is. Was it a “patsy” – or was it him? I am SURE someone knows the real truth. I’m not sure we will.

  52. In the early 1960’s Dillinger sent two letters to the Indianapolis news with photos of him as he looked then. The handwriting matches that of Dillinger in the ’30’s. He writes that after the shooting he moved to Southern California, where he kept a low profile. The letters and photos are in Nash’ book “Dillinger – Dead or Alive”.

  53. My Grandfather and Grandmother were friends of Dillingers. I have a .32 that was Johns given to my Grandmother during an arguement between my Grandfather and John. After the shooting, my GP and GM never talked to him again, but would receive Christmas cards from John that were postmarked in California until 1976 or 1977, I can’t remember which. And no, they did not save the cards. Wish they would have.

  54. Sorry my opinion posted on May 22nd was so upsetting to some. I don’t agree that J.D.’s family would be offended, however. If I did offend them I apologize – However the main point I wanted to make is that the Government has made plenty of mistakes throughout America’s history. This just seems like an obvious one since the young FBI was fooled by J.D. many times before – they had a record of messing up. As far as the 80 year old photo – It’s in fine shape – The body simply doesn’t look like John Dillinger’s and the face is way off in my opinion. It’s simply not really that close.

  55. I saw a documentary on Dillinger in the early 1980’s and it also showed the letters he had sent to an Indianapolis newspaper, saying that he was still alive and that the F.B.I. had killed an innocent man plus they showed the photo of Dillinger and it was surely him, just 16 years older.
    You can see why Mr. Purvis committed suicide.

  56. I wonder what all the skeptics would say if the body was exhumed and it was found to have the front right incisor in place which documented photographs and dental records show that Dillinger was missing?

  57. After O’Neill and Zarkovich shot “Dillinger”, Jimmy Lawrence was never seen again. One of John’s uncles had thirteen children, one of them was named James Lawrence Dillinger. And yes, the ears do not match.

  58. Why didnt he make a new gang? Why did he go to the theatre with 2 girls in public? Why didnt he see Melvin purvis? Why didnt he get his gun out in time? Why didnt he run? Why would he risk walking around in public? Why didnt he hide his Appearance? Why did he not say anything when he died? Why would this happen? Why would the FBI just shoot hi when they would of taken him in for custody? Why would this happen to a clever man like John DIllinger? Why would he let this happen? If he was shot why do it? Why shoot him it wasnt his fault he couldent get a job he tried so he was forced to rob banks? The FBI are worse than john dillinger as they killed all of his gang without questioning them. Why the #@?* do they think its ok to kill all his gang? What did he do if he survived? Did he reunite with belle? Did he live a happy retirement? Why didnt the fbi offer him a job? That was all he wanted the fbi could of done with somone clever like him who thinks before rushing into things. Why shoot him John Dillinger never did anything that bad yeah he stole money he was clever he Earned it! Why didnt they just let him go? You dont get people like him anymore he was a cool guy he deserved respect. He wasnt a normal gangster who goes around thinking hes Hard He was the type that Jokes around and Just generally outwitts evreyone. He was too good to die like that. Anyone that fired a shot at John Dillinger or any of his gang deserve to die they were smart and true real gangsters Melvin Purvis Was just some prick who didnt deserve the job. They never even gave John Dillinger a proper trial. John dillinger deserved to be as a god. He managed to find imaginitve ways of escaping Jail and he should get respect for it. His life was priceless. Why didnt he get a proper trial he deserved it. Noone should ever forget the work of this master criminal he is truly the best criminal you could meet. He showed that he could break out of any prison and he was uncontainble he was a master at what he did. People are still escaping from prison now you would think police officers would actully learn there lesson? But the breakouts nowadays are simple and not imaginitive unlike john dillingers I reckon they should of just kept him he could break out of anything he could of been given a job totest prisons. He was popular with the public And they were all deeply shocked at his death Some people compare it as a worse loss than JFK. Respect the man that made his name as the number 1 most wanted but bin laden was on it until recently after his death but ohn Dillinger was nowhere near as bad as bin laden in my opinion John Dillinger was just doing what he loved to do and that was to outsmart people. Why kill somone the public likes and respects? John dillinger was a good guy in my opinon he was nowhere near as bad as these sick paedofiles and rapists you get nowadays.Did he really deserve to die? Please show your support for John Dillinger and make sure evreyone knows his name and wont forget his story. But did he ever get to rob that last bank? I reckon he did then he retired shortly after. In public enemies Belle didnt look that upset and when she finally cried her tears looked fake i reckon she knew he was still alive but she just had to be carefull and act. This is my opinon and i hope he has lived a amazing life and died natrually He was a one of a kind and a legend that shall not be forgotten. Il post more stuff about him at a later date.

    Keep his story alive!

    -Ben

  59. I know of many people who do not like movies and such concerning the likes of Billy the Kid and John Dillinger because they feel as if it glorifies and tends to build-up and lend credibility to a person who was a criminal. You have used the term criminal several times in your reference to Dillinger, yet you seem to sing his praises. You say that he did what he loved but, in doing so, he was involved in actions that led to the deaths of many people and you suggest that is worthy of praise. Yours is an interesting opinion but it would be hard for many people to buy it. Interesting story from a historical context, but the story of John Dillinger is difficult to support as one worthy of adulation. I do appreciate your contribution though and welcome more, if you choose. But, I do respectfully ask that you try and refrain from verbiage that may be offensive to some readers. It’s really not necessary to make your point and it’s also a pain to have to edit. I appreciate your cooperation.

  60. Wow, this compendium of opinions, old stories from family members, and supposedly Dillinger’s family weighing in here & there down this list is truly amazing! I just watched the movie on DVD, and had watched a documentary about the Dillinger Death Mask a year or so ago so I knew there had been some plastic surgery toward the “supposed” end of his life.
    So many decades after his “death” or disappearance into the public I find it still to be such a unique story.
    When it comes right down to it opinions vary & always will. As for me, I do believe John Dillinger was entirely too smart for the FBI. I also believe there is more than a chance that not only did the G-Men screw up and cover-up, but that Dillinger duped them with a patsy.
    After watching the movie, reading through so many sites on the web, I choose to believe that Dillinger lived out his days quietly with his blackbird, wherever, had many children, and left the truth for only a few trusted people and family to know.
    I only leave this opinion because I have read through every one posted at the end of this page.
    Good thing we’re not talking about religion, Rex Mundi, the demiurge, or any “faiths” on this page or else I fear Symonsez would not have been able to edit much aside from simply throwing away most posted opinions.
    My hat off to Symonsez for the editing of this page. Thanks.

  61. Thanx. Not sure how much was edited. I typically do not censure stuff unless it is offensive. I’ll allow brilliant thought and foolish prose but will not tolerate coarse language or personal attacks. Totally unnecessary and all-too accepted in this latest century of ours. I do appreciate your contribution and thoughts.

    I do hope that you were able to click on the later versions in which I went into much more detail and provided much more interesting photos.

    While I do try to keep my objective historian hat on, I may drop an opinion or two in now and then. There are some that just jump out at me and I’m waiting for someone to scream it out…but so far…not much. Too much longer may result in my opening up.

  62. I lalala loove JD I’m a big fan! He was a smart man and noo matter wha! Wiether he was a bad man to some or a great man too me .. he will always be remembered I love u john dillinger!!

  63. Lmao, You people are legit crackin’ me up… Clam chowder? Really? HA.

  64. This is what I’ve read…in the autopsy report his weight and height were both incorrect. He had blue/hazel eyes and the deceased had brown. Some bullet wound scars and etc were also not on this particular body. Dillinger had less teeth. The heart condition of the person killed would have prevented his run in the Navy but also would have made many of his bank robberies and escapes impossible. I have also read that JD’s father had his “son’s” buried casket surrounded in concrete and iron caging so any additional snooping into the matter would not be possible. Supposedly his father didn’t even have the $50 necessary for his son’s tombstone and burial price but days later had enough money for all of that work to be done. Also, his tombstone say “Junior”…he was not John H. Dillinger Jr. The letter’s sent decades later are very intriguing. His handwritten letters, decades later, were supposed to be a match from earlier penmanship tests done in 30’s. The man shot that night was also a cigar smoker and always carried one…Dillinger was not.
    I wasn’t there so I can’t say with complete confidence that he pulled it off, but even without all of the above information, it would be so unbelievably stupid to go to a movie in CHICAGO where you know you aren’t safe. You also have to consider how unqualified the Bureau agents really were. The Bureau agents had JUST recently been approved to carry weapons!! They were lawyers in suits…they were responsible for numerous innocent deaths. Up until that night they also weren’t even allowed to make arrests..only local law could. The “Bureau” was NOTHING like our FBI now. That is something you should you understand. Anyway that night the agents came up on the cabin and saw lights on in the downstairs level. The got into position but then saw 3 men getting into a car to leave. With no warning, TWO hundred bullets went into the vehicle!! The driver was dead immediately, one critically injured, and the third suffered bullet wounds as well. Dillinger and the other immediately turned off the lights and escaped out a back window. They did not shoot ONE bullet. The movie makes it seem like it was gun battle….really it was untrained trigger happy lawyer/agents killing more innocent men. This did get into the news and J. Edgar recieved alot of negative press….he then pushed Purvis to get Dillinger right away.
    I think they did maybe kill the wrong man, but I also do NOT think they would tell a soul about their mistake.

  65. Well said Taylor J. – J. Edgar and his crew probably realized the mistake – it was pretty obvious given the numerous physical inconsistencies between the two men. Further, ID of the body – by several lawmen – could have been made since many lawmen met JD in person – usually in jail right before an escape. Did Melvin Purvis ever meet JD? Finally, JD had friends and family that could have make a positive ID (or not). As such the cover up probably went well beyond the finger print issues. The big problem is this: If the novice FBI did partake in a cover-up and JD started to rob banks again the whole “wrong killing (murder) and the cover-up would have been revealed.

    Plenty of FBI agents and bosses would have been in deep shit (again). The fatal night in Minn when the FBI gunned down 3 innocent men by mistake was actually not the only such disaster. The FBI’s future as an organization was not certain. While obviously the mistaken ambush outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago provided a great opportunity for JD to beat the odds after years of narrow escapes he still was technically a wanted man. Certainly for years after 1934 the risk of being caught and being sent to prison would have been pretty high. Some would think after the dust settled he could have robbed banks again. Any criminal act by JD would have revealed the FBI were not only incompetent, but dishonest as well.

    In retrospect it’s not out of the question to imagine that Uncle Sam and J. Edgar were able to contact JD via a third party and offer him an interesting deal – to make sure he wouldn’t return to crime. Maybe JD contacted the FBI and made them an offer. If no such deal was ever made at least we can assume JD had a little left-over cash on hand! –

    I’d love to know “the rest of the story.” While I don’t venerate John Dillinger’s life as a criminal he’s a big part of Depression Era culture in America. In effect he has become the poster boy for what happens to smart young men when punishment is too extreme. Most people have been given a second chance in life. Looks like JD got his in 1934.

    …Can’t wait to have all the blanks filled in. At least I’d like to know what JD did to support his new life and family. Too bad he didn’t write an autobiography to go with his letters . . .

  66. paul, that is exactly what i was thinking. jd maybe made a deal like, stop looking for me and i will remain hidden and keep your secret. common sense is that if your wanted in your town… u do not walk around like your a nobody especially with no disguise. jd was to smart of a man… how would he even make a mistake like that. to go out in public. im sure he set the whole thing up and have the “woman in red” in on it as well. i believe he lived and the fbi fucked up and covered up the mistake. hoover was definately in deep shit and such a publicized mistake would be the end of him and his fbi

  67. Wasn’t it documented he went out in public to Chicago Cubs games? A brash personality will do such things. Additionally, surely a DNA specimen could answer a lot regarding identity….

  68. I hope that one day before I die the family gives permission to dig up the body and find out whether the body has a missing tooth as pictures of Dillinger clearly show.

  69. After seeing several death photos I hadn’t seen before – taken of JD right after the “gun-down” outside the Biograph – I have to change my opinion. The death photos – and the death mask – do look like JD – – maybe with a little distortion or a slight facelift . . . The photo at the beginning of this blog is taken at an awkward angle and looks like it could be someone else; but in sum with the other death photos from different angles the victim does look like JD.

    As far as the dental records during the autopsy; its more likely JD found a good dentist and the autopsy doctor was in a hurry…

    I think JD did indeed meet his death on July 22nd, 1934 in Chicago in the alley around the corner from the Biograph. Oh well . . . still a great piece of depression era history. Melvin finally got a break . . .

    Paul Flexner

  70. Please.. The guy did not do one good thing in his life. Robbed a store for 50$ when he was 25 and spent 8 years in prison. Got out and robbed and killed honest people for a couple of years untill he was gunned down. This is not Robin Hood we are dealing with here. I can´t understand why someone would look up to this guy. You people look up to serial killers and other psychopats aswell? Weird.. Let´s all forget about this asshole, he does not deserve this afterworld.

  71. I actually agree in principal. However, the fact that you came to this site indicates that you are one of those who “would look up this guy.” The mirror is sometimes the best place to start to find the answers to some perplexing questions. Not trying to be harsh, just observant. But, as I said, I do have some agreement with you. He is a historical figure but his life probably should not be so romanticized and celebrated as hollywood tends to do. The most recent film was filled with falsehoods that were unnecessary, in my view.

  72. J.D.J. What else did your father say?

  73. It is my firm opinion he ate mescaline and went swimming in las vagas and owned a casino in nevada until his death in the late 1960’s

  74. Of course, I don’t know for certain whether the man killed outside the Biograph was Dillinger or not, but from what I’ve read and heard, I have my doubts. In addition to the discrepancies in appearance, the physicians who did the autopsy indicated the dead man’s eyes were brown — Dillinger’s eyes were bluish-grey. Dillinger’s own father remarked “He has changed considerably,” when he saw the corpse. A suit that belonged to Dillinger did not fit the dead man. And why does his grave marker read “John H. Dillinger, Jr.”? Dillinger wasn’t a “junior,” his father’s name was John Wilson Dillinger. It is known that Dillinger had a wry sense of humor and this is the sort of thing he would have found amusing.

    I notice some of those posting above say Dillinger was a killer, but, in fact, he never killed anyone and was upset when members of his gang shot people needlessly, e.g., when Harry Pierpont shot Sheriff Jesse Sarber in Lima, Ohio. The only person he was accused of killing was Officer William O’Malley during a bank robbery in East Chicago, Indiana, January 15, 1934. On that very day, people saw Dillinger shopping at a department store on East Bay Street in Jacksonville, Florida, and the following day, he stopped at a gas station in Bristol, Tennessee, where he handed out dollar bills to a group of local children. During those days, the Dillinger Gang was accused of numerous bank robberies committed by other men.

  75. If I seen john dillinger, I’d take my hat off shake his hand. An call him my hero. Fuck calling the police

  76. Its been many yrs. Dillinger was born in the early 1900s hes probably dead by now. But even if he was alive I am not going call the authorities. (In Kermit the frog voice thats non of my bussiness)

  77. I know I’m a bit late to this discussion, but I first saw the movie Public Enemies this summer and ever since I’ve been fascinated with Dillinger and the conspiracy that he pulled a hood over the FBI and managed to fake his death. I’ve read Nash’s novel, Dillinger: Dead or Alive, and I’m convinced he did escape. His father wasn’t able to afford the embalming fee of the body, but when the casket was to be buried, he insisted it be surrounded in 3 feet of cement, which no doubt, would have cost even more than the embalming fee. And then there’s the discrepancy of the markings on the tomb stone. Anyway, I got into one of the sessions where I let my curiosity get the best of me and as I was surfing the web looking for more info about the case I came across this discussion. I was wondering if anyone knows where I can see the photos Dillinger sent in to an Indianapolis Newspaper in the ’60’s. I believe they were actually Dillinger 16 years older as stated in an above comment, but I’m curious as to if I can actually see them as well, just for the sake of it. I’d be much obliged if anyone could give me any info. If not, I would just like to thank all of you, especially those who are family members of Mr. Dillinger, for the interesting narrative this discussion provided.

  78. I have a friend that is in possession of a ten page letter written by a man who claimed to be on the Ohio river fishing with John Dillinger on the night he was supposedly shot. This gentleman went into great detail about how the two met, and stayed in touch during the following years. In the letter, he claims Dillinger moved to Fl. after plastic surgery, and became a farmer and well loved citizen in the town where he eventually died. In the letter he stated that he was scared of the authorities,( I suppose), because he could have been convicted of aiding a known felon. He talks about fishing trips with Dillinger, taking ‘the gang’ food at different times. He said Dillinger told him that the “wooden gun’ that he used to break out of jail wasn’t wood at all, It was a bar of soap that he painted with black shoe polish.

  79. Im not a historian, or even a schalor, but it dosnt take much to look outside the box when it come’s to our Goverment. there will always be conspiricy theories it dosnt matter who has been or will be in office at some point they will need to “take off the white gloves at some point and will have to act outside the box for america’s sake. .. granted ive only read up on a handful of sites this being one of the last. and having read some of the earlyer post’s from others the artical and what has been stated about the post death autopsy. i would say that Dillinger wasnt shot, so why would i come up with a conclusion like that.. well let take a look at what we know..

    1) Hoover wanted the FBI to have more authority..
    2) Nobody wanted to give it to him.
    3) the dead dillingers eyes didnt match.
    4) the dead dillingers dental record didnt match
    5) the Man that was killed wasnt being brought to justice..he was out right assasinated…sad truth.. Dead people tell no tales..(ironicly..this one does..see 3&4.)
    6) DIllinger sr Has money..all of a sudden to make sure that Dillinger’s remains are never tampered with. (why..well..who knows..maybe some of the wealthy took pity and gave it to him to make sure his son had a proper funral..or..maybe
    he was givin the money by either the goverment..or the not so dead son of his.)

    this may sound like conspircy but.. some times that just cant be helped.
    is it so far fetched to think that maybe Dillinger was created in order to “Prove”
    we had a need for an FBI with more authority? or if not created.. we might never be able to prove such a thing but.. there is to many holes in everything.. and we will never know the truth. you might say..well there were other gangsters that could have been used to push that bill..but ..there wasnt.. no other gangster had cought the publics eye..none with the reputation.. maybe Dillinger created himself.. then Hoover..seeing how Inteligent and evasive Dillinger was.. later offered him a deal.. he knew if he could aquire dillinger..that he would be able to use this to Push for the FBI. so.. when dillenger was in costody at some point.. he was made an offer..or if it was staged from the get go.. maybe the “being cought then escaping” was actuly the only way they had a chance to comunicate..without being in the public eye. either way you want to slice it.. the only way the deal would be able to go down would be simple.. “Dillinger” had to die. one it was the only way the FBI would save face..and two..well it would be the only way DIllinger would be able to retreat from a “fame Staus” that he had reached.. no one is looking for a man that is known to be dead after all. ^.~

  80. and..maybe Purvis committed suicide finding out Dillinger was alive..or..maybe Purvis Committed suicide knowing what he had done and the inocent lives that were taken in the process of him being used as a Pawn.

  81. I don’t want to dampen the stories about Dillinger not being killed in July of 1934 BUT in 1934 Judy Garland just happened to be in that theater on that very evening and claimed that she talked to Dillinger, a man she did not realize who he was until after the shooting. She is on record of this and its easy to check out thru the internet. She was convinced that she had talked to John Dillinger minutes before he died.

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