John Dillinger

In 1934, after a fire at a hotel in Tucson, Arizona, John Dillinger was finally caught. Considering that he had been only active as a bank robber for six months, his notoriety as America’s public enemy number one seemed overblown. Dillinger was sent to back to Indiana to face trial for killing of an officer during a previous jailbreak.

During his trial, Dillinger was asked to pose together with prosecutor Robert Estill, and Lake County Sheriff Lillian Holley. One photographer shouted for Estill to put his arm around Dillinger, which he did with Dillinger resting his elbow on Estill’s shoulder. Not only was Estill shown buddying up to Dillinger, Dillinger with his signature roguish smile also looked as if he was in control. One photograph taken by Reed Thompson made the frontpages of national newspapers the next day, causing an uproar.

Damningly Dillinger appeared to be making the classic gun signal; this was interpreted either as a message to his supporters to take Estill out, or for them to help him breakout of the prison. The photo would doom ambitious Estill’s politicial career. It would eventually cost him his chance to become governor of Indiana.

Sheriff Holley too would soon become embroiled in Dillinger saga. She boasted that her jail was escape-proof, but Dillinger was able to carve a wooden gun in his cell and with it, he tricked a guard into opening his cell. He fled, but not before rounding up all the guards in the jail, and stealing Holley’s new Ford car, embarrassing her and the town. She was put under an investigation by the local politicians looking for a scapegoat, but the investigation absolved her, and she finished out the sherival term of her husband, Roy, who had been killed the previous year.

As for Dillinger, he was on his way to destiny; his increasingly daring escapades attracted the attention of J. Edgar Hoover, who sent special agents to Chicago. Within five months, Dillinger was shot dead in Chicago.

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