If you have not read Part 1 or 2 of the Dillinger Story, please start with Part 1.
(Note: Southern Arizona Guide will lead a FREE Dillinger Day Tour from Hotel Congress on Saturday January 23, 2016.)
March 3, 1934. Captured in Tucson in late January and extradited to Indiana, Dillinger is locked up in the Crown Point Indiana jail awaiting trial for robbery and murder. According to Dillinger, he fashions a toy handgun from a piece of wood. He stains it black using shoe polish and embeds metal from old razor blades to give it a realistic metallic appearance. Even though the jail is heavily guarded, Dillinger, using his fake gun, escapes. Dillinger, already a huge celebrity, now becomes a legend. Even if the law catches him, they can’t keep him.
March 1934. Dillinger and Billy Frechette drive to Saint Paul, Minnesota where they rent an apartment. Dillinger begins organizing a new gang that includes former cellmate and long-time friend Homer Van Meter, and other professional bank robbers Tommy Carroll, Eddie Green and Lester Gillis, aka by his alias and nickname, George “Baby Face” Nelson.
Nelson is very temperamental, extremely violent, and unpredictable. Dillinger will live long enough to regret bringing him into the new gang. But now his choice of dedicated gang members is severely limited. Within a few days, they are robbing banks. Their first heist is the Security National Bank in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, several hundred miles from St. Paul. They get $46,000 (today $828,000). Dillinger uses some of his share to get funds to his shady lawyer for the legal defense of Pierpont, Makley and Clark. (Again, loyalty.)
For newspapers of the day, Dillinger’s exploits make for great headlines, and vastly increased circulation. They like Dillinger because the public likes him, or at least feel grudging admiration.
Humorist and columnist, Will Rogers, wrote of this episode: “They had him surrounded in Chicago, but he robbed a bank in Sioux Falls that day. So they was right on his trail. Just three states behind.”Read More