John Dillinger- Public Enemy Number One

By Casey "Q" Kennett


  • Biography, Controversy over Dillinger's Death, and Concerning the Ghost Stories
  • Trivia
  • Further reading
  • Bibliography for text and photos

Public Enemy Number One, he was often called. John Dillinger was born in 1903. His life of crime started in the days of the Great Gatsby, but grew and continued even after the Roaring Twenties. He joined the Navy and went AWOL five months later. He married Beryl Hovious, who later divorced him because of his felony, which he committed with Ed Singleton. They robbed the grocer Frank Morgan. And he went to jail near the end of the twenties.
In 1933, Dillinger was released. He soon after robbed his first bank. He later was sent to jail after committing several more robberies; later ten men broke him out and became his gang. They robbed another bank.
The Chicago police form a squad called, The Dillinger Squad. The gang went to Florida with Dillinger’s girlfriend Evelyn “Billie” Frechette. When back in Chicago, he robbed a bank and was shot by an officer. But, Dillinger had on a bulletproof vest and was unharmed. He is again sent to jail, but people were absolutely captivated by his “charisma and sense of humor”.
He later escaped from jail and committed a federal crime by stealing a sheriff’s car and driving over state lines. His girlfriend was later arrested for harboring a criminal. Later, Dillinger and a friend got plastic surgery. He was soon named Public Enemy Number One. He turned thirty-one on June 22, 1934; and celebrated by going out with a new girlfriend, Polly Hamilton. He moved in with a woman, Anna Sage. Who turned him in.
Dillinger is killed July 22, 1934 at a movie theater in Chicago.

Controvery over Dillinger's Death
People swarmed from all over Chicago, just for a glimpse of his body and where he died. In fact, people picked a utility pole to shreds until it had to be replaced more than once, for a souvenir because of how close it was to the spot he died. But, there were some who believed that John Dillinger was not the man killed in that alley near the Biograph Theater of Chicago.
Though he had undergone plastic surgery to remove moles and fill in the bridge of his nose and the cleft, so that may have caused some confusion. Some claimed that the eyes were not the same color or that the man killed was shorter or heavier, and that a man named Jimmy Lawrence went missing the same time Dillinger was finally brought to justice. But, with all confusion concerning Dillinger’s death, authorities had identified the body to be John Dillinger.

Concerning the Ghost Stories:
In “Dillinger’s Alley”, there are some that believe a ghost stays there, reenacting what happened that night in 1934. They claim to see a figure “running, stumbling, and disappearing’. Others feel cold spots. Some even feel his presence. But, whether or not you believe in ghosts, the site is still filled with history. And is an interesting idea for a stop the next time you’re in Chicago.

Full name: John Herbert Dillinger
Birth: June 22, 1903.
Death: July 22, 1934.
Past girlfriends(and wife): Beryl Hovious, “Billie” Frechette, Polly Hamilton.
Mother: Mollie Dillinger
Father: John Wilson Dillinger
Place of birth: Indianapolis.
Place of death: Chicago.
Cause of Death: Shot by FBI agents.
Most notable event: Many bank robberies and prison escapes
FURTHER READING (I did not actually use this site for my page, just thought it might be of interest to anybody who wants to know more.)
Ghost Stories of Illinois by Jo-Anne Christensen (look for 'Dillinger's Last Show')

Bibliography, contorversy, ghost stories, and trivia:
References used for Biography and Trivia:

“Public Enemy Number One.” American Experience. 2002. February 10, 2009 <

“Famous Cases John Dillinger.” Federal Bureau of Investigation. February 10, 2009 <

Photo citation:
Wanted Poster. Federal Bureau of Investigation. February 10, 2009 <>

The Many Faces of John Dillinger. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Februrary 11, 2009 <>

Christensen, Jo-Anne. Ghost Stories of Illinois. Renton, WA: Lone Pine, 2000.

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License