John Dillinger and Lady in Red

John Dillinger who terrorized the midwest by robbing banks and stealing guns, rifles, ammunition and bulletproof vests from police stations across the midwest.

John Dillinger was born on June 22, 1903 in Indianapolis , Indiana and had a troubled childhood after his mother died when he was three and he resented his stepmother and he would later be sent to prison for attempting to rob a grocer. He spent over eight years in prison and then was released from prison on parole on May 10, 1933.

He  robbed a bank in Bluffton, Ohio and was captured by police on September 22, 1933 and incarcerated in the Lima, Ohio jail. The sheriff in Lima was shot and prison escapees who had escaped from the Indiana state prison unlocked Dillinger’s cell and he was freed by them on October 12 of that year.

He escaped from another prison in Crown Point, Indiana on March 3, 1934 when he pulled a wooden gun he had whittled on prison guards and forced them to open his cell door and stole two machine guns while making his escape.

Dillinger made a mistake when he stole the sheriff’s car and crossed into Illinois from Indiana when the FBI became involved in the case.

Even though Dillinger was apparently trapped at the Little Bohemia Lodge 50 miles north of Rhinelander, Wisconsin  after a tip informed the FBI that there was suspicious activity in the building he was able to escape before the building could be completely surrounded.

Anna Sage whose real name was Ana Cumpanas contacted the FBI on July 21, 1934 saying that she knew that Dillinger would be at either the Biograph or Marbro theater the next evening.

In exchange Sage who was running a brothel and was harboring Dillinger asked the FBI to assist her in avoiding deportation if she gave the info on Dillinger to the FBI.

She told them she would be wearing a red dress to make it easier to spot Dillinger and that another lady who would turn out to be Polly Hamilton would also be with Dillinger.

Sage would later call the FBI and tell them she wasn’t sure of which theater they would be attending so FBI agents were present at both theaters but when Dillinger, Sage and Hamilton entered the Biograph theater the agents at the Marbro theater were dispatched to the Biograph.

Dillinger entered the Biograph at 8:30 PM and would leave at 10:30 PM. When special FBI agent Melvin Purvis spotted Dillinger leaving the theater he lit a cigar to warn the other agents to close in on Dillinger. For some reason Dillinger sensed something was wrong and reached for the gun in his pocket and began to run. Three FBI agents fired five shots at Dillinger with three hitting him and Dillinger fell to the ground and he was pronounced dead at 10:50 PM.

The reign of terror of Dillinger ended that night about ten months after he robbed his first bank. It turned out that Sage who had delivered Dillinger to the FBI was still deported despite her assistance in nabbing Dillinger.

The FBI website clears up some myths about John Dillinger:


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

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