John Dillinger

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Person.png John Dillinger   SpartacusRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
John Dillinger mug shot.jpg
BornJohn Herbert Dillinger
Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.
Died1934-07-22 (Age 31)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Criminal charge
Bank robbery, murder, assault, assault of an officer, grand theft auto
Criminal status
SpouseBeryl Hovious
Dillinger destroyed thousands of mortgage records during his bank robberies. J. Edgar Hoover used Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform to evolve the BOI into the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

John Herbert Dillinger was an American gangster of the Great Depression. He led a group known as the "Dillinger Gang", which was accused of robbing 24 banks and four police stations. Dillinger was imprisoned several times but escaped twice. He was charged, but not convicted, of the murder of an East Chicago, Indiana, police officer who shot Dillinger in his bullet-proof vest during a shootout; it was the only time Dillinger was charged with homicide.

Dillinger courted publicity. Dillinger's audacious string of robberies and prison escapes in the early 1930s turned him into an American folk hero, a Depression-era Robin Hood. He and his gang robbed more than a dozen banks between May 1933 and July 1934, stealing more than $300,000, a significant amount of money back then. He also destroyed thousands of mortgage records during the robberies, helping many poor people escape onerous payments to rapacious banks[1][2][3]

In response, J. Edgar Hoover, then director of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI), used Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform to evolve the BOI into the Federal Bureau of Investigation, developing more sophisticated investigative techniques as weapons against organized crime.[1]

After evading police in four states for almost a year, Dillinger was wounded and went to his father's home to mend. He returned to Chicago in July 1934 and sought refuge in a brothel owned by Ana Cumpănaș (aka Anna Sage). She informed authorities of his whereabouts. On July 22, 1934, local and federal law enforcement closed in on the Biograph Theater.[4] As BOI agents moved to arrest Dillinger as he exited the theater, he drew a gun while attempting to flee, but was killed; this was later ruled as justifiable homicide.[5][6]

Sage received only 5,000 US dollars (about 100,000 US dollars according to today's purchasing power) of the suspended bounty and was deported to Romania in 1936.[7]


  1. a b Elliott J. Gorn, Dillinger's Wild Ride: The Year That Made America's Public Enemy Number One (2009), p 101.
  5. J.J. Kearns' autopsy report
  7. Joseph McNamara: The justice story. True tales of murder, mystery, mayhem. Bannon Multimedia Group, Champaign IL 2000, ISBN 1-58261-285-4, page 170.