LONG LIVE JOHN!!!
Above: The old Lake County Jailhouse, today is looking alot like the haunted house used in the old TV series "The Munsters." Crown Point, was also known as "Clown Point," and Woodengun, Indiana after Dillinger's famous escape from the Lake County Jail. Many official's of Crown Point later made statements that they didn't believe that Dillinger could ever killed anyone. Those who got to know John Dillinger, the man...all agreed, he wasn't a killer.
During Dillinger's escape from the famous jailhouse, he told the machanic and the Warden that he'd send them something at Christmas time. The two men actually believe that Dillinger would had kept his promise if he wouldn't have been killed.
These are the types of impressions that Dillinger would leave on people. The Crown Point I visited today was an extremely secretive town who just wanted to forget the historical events, which accured on March 3,1934 when Dillinger bluffed his way out of their escape proof jail.
Please... let give those who decide visit Crown Point a word of advise, if you ever intend on visiting this town and don't want to constantly be watched, followed and treated like a criminal, don't mention John Dillinger's name. This is true, not only was I harassed and the friends I invited, but many others have brought to my attention that they have also experienced the same reality and resentment of the town.
UPDATE: Good News! I have been talking with many Crown Point citizens in the recents months and have made some good friends. I have learned that mostly the older citizens still hold a grudge on gentleman John. The resentment they carry needs to be freed once and for all. The younger crowds actually enjoy the history. Good or Bad, it is all history!
John Dillinger was accused of one murder, that of Officer Patrick O'Malley of the East Chicago Indiana Police Dept, but he was never charged for the crime. Why? Because he was innocent. Dillinger claimed he was in Florida during the robbery of East Chicago. He was telling the truth. The problem was that when he was arrested money from the East Chicago robbery was found in his procession.
Dillinger told officials he received the money from John Hamilton, who had been shot four times in the stomach and it was his dying wish that John Dillinger give the money to his family. But Dillinger was captured soon afterwards. The truth being...it was John Hamilton who killed O'Malley, after the officer shot him four times. Hamilton was mistaken for Dillinger because he was about the same height, same weight and had similar features. Including the fact that these gangsters both dressed with wearing hats and overcoats.
Indiana State Police Chief Matt Leach went to Florida to check Dillinger's story and found witnesses that he was present in Daytona Beach during the time of the murder and charges were dropped. When Leach returned, Dillinger had already escaped with a wooden gun.
IN DEFENSE OF JOHN DILLINGER
Dillinger - Guilty or not of murder?
Lets looks at the Facts
by author 7ony Stewart
First, lets begin with a letter written on July 22, 1984 entitled HER NIGHTMARE OF HIDING by Lu Ann Franklin of the
Hammond Times. This story is told by Mary Wilgus, daughter of Hobart Wilgus, a East Chicago policeman that was present during the robbery of the First National Bank, in which she believes John Dillinger murdered police officer Patrick O'Malley.
As the author of Dillinger, The Hidden Truth, I disagree and following her statements, I present my facts. And the story is continued with my Rebuttal.
Here is the story told by Mary Wilgus:
<sic> Mary Wilgus and her family think it's time John Dillinger's popularity and "Robin Hood" image were laid to rest. With the 50th anniversary of Dillinger's death today, Mary wants to talk about Dillinger. For 50 years, this petite 80-year old East Chicago native and current resident has kept silent. She has kept her memories of Dillinger's final six months locked away with her collection of yellowed newspaper clippings and old photos. Those six months were a nightmare for Mary Wilgus and her husband Hobart.
The nightmare began Jan. 15, 1934 about 2 p.m. Hobart, an East Chicago policeman, responded to an alarm at the First National Bank at the corner of Chicago Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard. Mary said the police never knew whether the alarm signaled a real emergency or a test of the alarm system.
"Hobart went into the bank first," Mary said. "Dillinger was in the lobby with a machine-gun." "At that time police didn't go in with guns drawn. It might 'frighten the patrons'. That tickles me," she added ironically. Hobart's .38 service revolver was quickly "appropriated" by Dillinger, Mary said, and the policeman became the killer's hostage.
After robbing the bank Dillinger used Hobart Wilgus as a shield to make his escape. According to Mary, Dillinger told her husband, "You go first, they (the police) might as well shoot you as me. We love you guys anyway."
"Pat O'Malley, a fellow off-duty police officer, was standing just outside the bank that day. Mary said O'Malley carried a photo of Dillinger in his wallet and recognized the gangster. A member of Dillinger's gang, John Hamilton, warned him of the policeman's presence. O'Malley shot Dillinger three times, Mary said, before he was himself cut down by Dillinger's machine-gun fire. But O'Malley's shots never touched the killer - he had on a bullet proof vest.
"In books and movies, they have made Dillinger into a Robin Hood," Mary commented. "Why, he shot him (O'Malley) in cold blood." The arrival of the gang's getaway car at that moment probably saved her husband's life, Mary said. She remembered she knew something was wrong when Hobart didn't come home on time after his shift. "A friend was with me at the house. Someone in City Hall called her. As soon as she finished I said, 'What's wrong?' I got on the phone and called the station." Hobart was being questioned by his colleagues. Mary recalled that when her husband told police officials the gang wore bullet-proof vests, "they called him a liar." Later the police learned the gang had stolen their vests, machine-guns and pistols in the robbery of a sheriff's office in Ohio. They killed the sheriff. Because Hobart Wilgus was the only official witness to both the robbery and the killing of O'Malley, he became a target for Dillinger. The couple was sent out of town for their own protection.
While traveling through Springfield Ill. they stopped for gas. "Hobart took one look around and said, 'Let's get out of here,' Mary recalled. Hobart had spotted members of Dillinger's gang in a car heading north probably to find him.
About a month later Dillinger was arrested in Tucson, Ariz. and Hobart Wilgus was sent to bring him back to Indiana for trial. Hobart was brought out of hiding and sent to Arizona because he was the only one who could positively identify Dillinger. They came back to Indiana handcuffed together.
Even in those days the Dillinger legend was growing. Officials in Tucson were photographed with their arms draped around Dillinger's shoulders. But, Mary's daughter, Eleanor Hinton of Dyer, noted her father never wanted to be photographed with the killer.
Hobart brought Dillinger back to the county jail in Crown Point, but the gangster didn't remain there long. He escaped and began looking for Hobart, Mary said. "They (the East Chicago police officials) put him (Hobart) out in uniform. Nobody wanted to work with him," Mary recalled with a touch of bitterness in her voice.
In May two other East Chicago policemen - Officers Mulvihill and O'Brien - were shot to death in a car by Dillinger's gang, according to Mary. She theorized the two were killed because the police "were just getting too close" to Dillinger. The connection has never been proven however.
Hobart escaped death again while he was walking his beat with the brother of one of the slain policemen. A car carrying Dillinger's gang drove along 151st Street, looking for Hobart. However, he was standing near a large tree and escaped their notice, Mary said. The man with Hobart told the officer he'd never walk with him again. "And he never did," Mary remembered with a chuckle.
Dillinger did not give up. Off and on for the next few months, Mary recalled, Dillinger and his gang sat in a car outside the Wilgus home on Grand Boulevard in East Chicago. But Hobart didn't often come home after his shift. "He would go someplace else to stay," Mary said. Hobart didn't want her to remain in the area, Mary noted "but I told him 'no way would I leave.'"
The Wilgus nightmare finally ended on July 22, 1934 when Dillinger was shot to death outside the Biograph Theater on Chicago's North Side. Although rumors have circulated for 50 years that Dillinger was not the man shot that day, Mary is certain he was. "If he wasn't killed, my husband wouldn't have lasted as long as he did, that's for sure," she said.
Hobart Wilgus died in 1959 at the age of 61. He had retired from the police force in 1949 after 21 years service. After Dillinger's death, "neither one of us thought much more about it. He (Hobart) figured that was his job and he did it and for the salary they got then, your life wasn't worth much."
One detail about Dillinger has stayed with Mary for 50 years. There has been much controversy over the color of Dillinger's eyes. They have been variously described in official documents as gray, brown or blue. But Hobart Wilgus told his wife Dillinger had a "killer's eyes. My husband said he had a yellowish cast to his eyes." <End Sic>
Rita Mulvihill Dimos of Hammond, Indiana the daughter of murder victim Lloyd Mulvihill also blames John Dillinger for the murder of her father.
As the author, I feel for the murder victims, especially officers killed in the line of dutyâ€¦ but I feel we need supporting evidence because laying the blame of the most popular bank robber (Not murderer) of the times. The fact is John Dillinger wasn’t involved in this murder as you will learn in the author’s rebuttal below.
Here is Rita Mulvihill Dimos side of the story:
<sic>So John Dillinger was just another Robin Hood who stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Baloney. He was a thug, as were his so called gang members. "Let's give him as a museum because he's part of our Indiana history." Give me a break.
My father, Lloyd Mulvihill, along with Martin O'Brian, died because of the Dillingers.
My father was 29 and had six children all under age 6. My mother had to raise us by herself with a small pension, but we made do and were grateful. He took my dad from me and my five brothers and sisters. He's a murderer, not a hero. How many times growing up did I wish for a father? Hundreds.
How about a museum for the widows and children? Of course, they're not newsworthy. People who idolize this gang of slime are sick, sick, sick. I hope to see my father someday and hear him say, "Don't worry, Rita. You won't see any museum up here for criminals. Rita Mulvihill Dimos , Hammond, Indiana.<End Sic>
We need justification and rationalization to bring forth all the evidence, not hearsay, but the facts. First, I have studied John Dillinger's character for over thirty years. I have read the recent articles on John Dillinger and I sincerely sympathize with victims such as Rita Mulvihill Dimos over the tragic loss of her father Lloyd Mulvihill and partner Martin O'Brian. I am a vivid Dillinger historian and author of the book "Dillinger, The Hidden Truth." There is actually NO solid evidence that supports that fact that John Dillinger ever killed Mulvihill, nor Martin O'Brian, except comments made by the gangster's lawyer Louis Piquett to G. Russell Girardin in a 600-page manuscript later to become the best seller Dillinger, The Untold Story. We need justification and rationalization to bring forth all the evidence, not hearsay, but the facts. First, I have studied John Dillinger's character for over thirty years. I have read the recent articles on John Dillinger and I sincerely sympathize with victims such as Rita Mulvihill Dimos over the tragic loss of her father Lloyd Mulvihill and partner Martin O'Brian. I am a vivid Dillinger historian and author of the book "Dillinger, The Hidden Truth." There is actually NO solid evidence that supports that fact that John Dillinger ever killed Mulvihill, nor Martin O'Brian, except comments made by the gangster's lawyer Louis Piquett to G. Russell Girardin in a 600-page manuscript later to become the best seller Dillinger, The Untold Story.
In 1936 (Two years after John Dillinger's death in 1934) Piquett needed money desparately to pay legal fees to save his on neck on harboring charges. He was sentenced to two years in Leavenworth Penitentiary on charges. The Mulvihill and Martin O'Brian killings were not John Dillinger style...these were "Mob Hit" fashion type killings. Anyone one who studies Chicago history knows...only the Chicago Mob outfit kills in this manner, just like Al Capone's famous St. Valentine's day massacre where several men were lined up and shot in the back.
John Dillinger was no angel...but he was no killer either. There has NEVER been any hard evidence linking Dillinger to a single murder. Many people tend to believe the newspaper articles of the 1930's...articles that condemned many criminals to death long before a trial. The fact is that Dillinger was accused, but never convicted on murder...so legally we can't call him a murderer.
Also there have been many valuable points made over the years on the question of... did John Dillinger kill East Chicago police officer William Patrick O’Malley, and I respect those opinions. In my book entitled Dillinger, The Hidden Truth I give a detailed account on why John Dillinger was NOT PRESENT during the East Chicago robbery. And although Dary Matera and Tom Smusyn's new book "John Dillinger - The Life and Death of America's first Celebrity Criminal" is one of the most detailed written accounts on the outlaw, I am not convinced that John Dillinger ever killed a single soul as the evidence supports.
I stand by the facts and issues that John Dillinger wasn't a killer because this wasn't his character and there isn't enough evidence to support murder charges. He was a man who used his head, "Brains before actions" which he proved when he locked of ten guards with a wooden gun during his escape from the Lake County Crown Point jail. Even Crown Point official's who got to know the outlaw, commented that they will never believed he killed anyone.
And the "so-called" facts that the outlaw was present in East Chicago which is supported by 22 witnesses? What facts? Where do people get this evidence....comic books? When you look into the files, there is absolutely NO proof! I have found evidence during my many years of research that Dillinger gang member "John Hamilton" was the man identified by witnesses who shot O'Malley at the time of the shooting by East Chicago residences. Hamilton, who had a long face like John Dillinger, light color eyes, similar height and weight and could have easily been confused for Dillinger with a hat and coat on, which I believe was the case. Hamilton was shot four times in the guts during the robbery...he fired back in realiation and Killed O'Malley. Mary Wilgus claims that later the police learned the gang had stolen their vests, machine-guns and pistols in the robbery of a sheriff's office in Ohio. This is another untrue statementâ€¦the gang never stole weapons and bulletproof vests from Ohio. However, the gang did steal stole weapons and bulletproof vests from two police stations, one in Auburn, Indiana and the other in Peru, Indiana.
John Dillinger was in Daytona, Florida when the East Chicago robbery went down and showed no such wounds. The facts speak for itself. Around the same time, Dillinger had sent Frechette was sent to Wisconsin from Florida for whatever reasons and picked her up a few days later to attend an automobile show at the St. Louis Municipal Auditorium. According to John Dillinger, next they traveled to Chicago to see a fatally wounded John Hamilton. Hamilton who thought he was dying asked the trusting friend Dillinger to pass money onto his family...and he agreed. The money was found on Dillinger (As part of the East Chicago bank robbery loot) and this is what linked him to the robbery.
After a careful investigation, I have learned that it would have been difficult to make a 1,200- to 1,300 mile trip from Florida to East Chicago that would take more than 18 hours in today’s modern road conditions. It was simply impossible for John Dillinger to have made this trip and rob the bank in the time frame suggested in fraudulent reports. Driving through the darkness on the poor two lane roads during winter months in the 1930's.... It could not have been done. Furthermore, Indiana Police Chief Matt Leach later check out Dillinger's Florida alibi and return to Indiana to clear Dillinger of murder charges, but the outlaw had already escaped the prominent Crown Point jail. Crown Point still carries an ancient scar for this historical breakout that doesn't seem to heal. Dillinger left a permanent mark here.
Speaking further, I do believe John Dillinger was innocent of murder charges, but he wouldn't have received a fair rial in Crown Point because it was an election year and Prosecuter Robert Estill had his eye on the Governor's seat. He needed a conviction at all costs. Dillinger was ware of this too....and that's why he decided escaped. He knew he would have died in the electric chair regardless of his innocence. But "IF" Dillinger could have received a "fair trial," he would have been cleared of all murder charges.
I have been working on another possibility that there were other people in high places that didn't want Robert Estill's political career to grow...and there may have been others involved in the plot to aid John Dillinger's escape. In any case, Robert Estill's career never recovered after Dillinger's escape on March 3, 1934. The Dillinger legend lives on.
If the courts were have a mock trial on Dillinger today for supposed murder charges...I would be more than willing to take the stand in his defense of John Dillinger, to prove he was innocent of murder charges.