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Feb 20

The Feds Get Their Man


At 10:30 p.m., Dillinger and his companions exited the theater. Purvis having identified him, lit his cigar, the prearranged signal. Purvis and Agent Herman E. Hollis closed in from behind with guns drawn. As he neared the alleyway down from the theater, glancing over his shoulder, he began to run into the alley. Agents Hollis, Charles Winstead, and C. Hurt fired five times. Three bullets hit Dillinger and he fell face down. One shot, probably fired by Winstead, had entered his neck and exited under his right eye, killing him.

Taken to the Alexian Bros. Hospital, he was pronounced dead at 10:30 p.m. From there his body was transported to the Cook County Morgue, where a huge crowd gathered and a number of photos were taken. The FBI checked his fingerprints, and in spite of his attempts to have them obliterated, were able to make a positive identification. An autopsy was then performed. The next day the body was put on display at the morgue and thousands came to look at the infamous John Dillinger. Newspapers were filled with stories of his betrayal by a "woman in red", soon identified by the press as Anna Sage.

The body was next transferred to McCready Mortuary. On July 24, the remains were taken to the E.F. Harvey Funeral Parlor in Mooresville. The casket was soon moved from there to his sister's home in Maywood. A crowd of thousands gathered outside the Crown Hill Cemetery, as the twenty car funeral procession arrived. Dillinger's body was then buried. Due to countless rumors that would go on for years, that it wasn't Dillinger's body in the ground, John Dillinger Sr. soon made arrangements to have 3 ft. of reinforced concrete poured into the ground above the grave, lest anyone attempt to dig up the coffin.

Of his surviving companions, Van Meter was trapped and killed a month later in St. Paul. Shortly thereafter, Makley was killed and Harry Pierpont wounded in a failed jailbreak. Pierpont would soon go to the electric chair. Russell Clark received a life sentence for his part in the Sarber killing. On November 27, 1934, Baby Face Nelson, while traveling with Helen Gillis and armed companion John Paul Chase, were spotted by Federal Agents Samuel Cowley and H.E. Hollis. During the gun battle that followed, Nelson killed Cowley and Hollis, but was himself mortally wounded. His body, having been dumped not far away, was discovered the next morning.

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