this day in crime history: march 16, 1934


On this date in 1934, Herbert Youngblood, an accused murderer who escaped from the Lake County Jail in Crown Point, IN with John Dillinger, was killed in a shootout with police in Port Huron, MI. Undersheriff Charles Cavanaugh was also killed in the shootout, which left two lawmen and a civilian injured.

Further reading:

Time“Bad Man at Large”

Dillinger: The Untold Story, by G. Russell Girardin, William J. Helmer, and Rick Mattix

YOUNGBLOOD IS SLAIN IN BATTLE

this day in crime history: march 3, 1934

On this date in 1934, notorious bank robber John Dillinger escaped from the Lake County jail in Crown Point, IN. Dillinger, who had been arrested in Tucson, AZ in January, was awaiting trial for the murder of a police officer. On the morning of March 3rd, Dillinger pulled what was later reported to be a fake gun on jail guards and convinced them to open his cell. He and another inmate locked up the guards, grabbed some machine guns, and fled the jail with a deputy as a hostage. They made their way to a nearby garage, where they stole Sheriff Lillian Holly’s (front row, far left in the above photo) brand new Ford V-8. Dillinger and company fled across the state line into Illinois. This turned out to be John Dillinger’s fatal mistake. He had taken a stolen car across state lines, which is a federal crime. He would soon have the full attention of the FBI – the kind of attention he could live without.

Further reading:

Crime Museum – John Dillinger

FBI Files – Famous Cases: John Dillinger

Time Magazine – Whittler’s Holiday

Wikipedia – John Dillinger

this day in crime history: november 27, 1934

On this date in 1934, Lester Gillis, better known as George “Baby Face” Nelson (and don’t even think about calling him “Baby Face” to his baby face) died after being shot by FBI agents near Barrington, IL. Nelson was shot multiple times in a gun battle that also resulted in the deaths of FBI Inspector Samuel Cowley and Special Agent Herman Hollis. Nelson’s body was later found in a ditch, wrapped in a blanket.

Further reading:

FBI History – “Baby Face” Nelson

Crime Museum – Baby Face Nelson

Wikipedia – Baby Face Nelson

FBI Hall of Honor – Samuel P. Cowley

FBI Hall of Honor – Herman E. Hollis

this day in crime history: october 22, 1934

On this date in 1934, notorious outlaw Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd was shot and killed in eastern Ohio.  According to the FBI version of the incident, Floyd was shot by agents as he jumped from a car and drew a .45 pistol.  Another version has it that he was shot and wounded by East Liverpool, OH police sharpshooter Chester Smith, and that FBI agents executed Floyd after briefly questioning him.  At the risk of appearing to be a victim of J. Edgar Hoover’s propaganda machine, I’m inclined to believe the FBI’s account.  But I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Further reading:

FBI Famous Cases: Kansas City Massacre – Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy” Floyd

Wikipedia – Pretty Boy Floyd

this day in crime history: july 22, 1934

On this day in 1934, John Dillinger was shot and killed by lawmen as he left the Biograph Theater in Chicago, IL. FBI agents under Special Agent in Charge Melvin Purvis, along with officers from the East Chicago, IN Police Department set up a stakeout outside the theater, which was showing the film Manhattan Melodrama.

After the movie, Dillinger walked out with his girlfriend Polly Hamilton and Anna Sage, the infamous “Woman in Red” (she was really wearing orange, but “The Woman in Orange” doesn’t have quite the ring to it). Agent Purvis ID’d Dillinger, and the agents closed in. The outlaw ran toward an alley and tried to draw a pistol from his pocket. The agents opened fire, and Dillinger was hit four times. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“It’s like the coroner said, ‘Crime don’t pay!’ does it?”

Further reading:

Crime Museum – John Dillinger

FBI Famous Cases – John Dillinger 

Biograph Theater

this day in crime history: may 23, 1934


She was an honor student with a talent for creative writing. He was an ex-con and habitual criminal with a preference for Fords and Browning Automatic Rifles. On this date in 1934, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and gunned down by a posse led by (semi)retired Texas Ranger Frank Hamer.


Further reading:

Crime Museum: Bonnie & Clyde

Wikipedia – Bonnie and Clyde

The Bonnie and Clyde Festival in Gibsland, LA

“The Story of Bonnie and Clyde,” a poem by Bonnie Parker

Frank Hamer at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame

this day in crime history: april 22, 1934

On this date in 1934, the FBI went toe to toe with John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and their gang in a shootout that left an FBI agent and a bystander dead.

The gang decided to hide out at the Little Bohemia Lodge in northern Wisconsin. The owner of the lodge managed to get word to the authorities. FBI agents were dispatched to the scene.

As the agents approached the lodge, the owner’s dogs began to bark. Since the dogs barked incessantly, their warning was ignored by the gang. A few minutes later, a car approached the agents. Thinking that the gangsters were inside, they opened fire in an attempt to shoot out the tires. Shooting high, which often happens when firing on full auto, they hit all of the occupants of the car, and killed one of them. To make matters worse, they had the wrong guys. Dillinger and his crew were still inside the lodge.

Barking dogs you can ignore, but submachinegun fire will get your attention every time. Dillinger and the boys heard the shots and knew that the heat was on. They opened fire on the agents from the lodge. After throwing some hot lead at the G-men, the gang bolted for the door. Dillinger and two of his guys turned one way and made a clean getaway. Nelson turned the other way, and wound up at a nearby house in a car with the owner of the lodge and a neighbor.

A car containing two of the FBI agents and a local constable approached Nelson. Nelson pointed his gun at them, and ordered them out of the car. When they complied, Nelson shot all three of them. Agent W. Carter Baum was killed; Agent J. C. Newman and local constable Carl Christensen were injured.

The final tally: two dead (one lawman and one innocent bystander), four injured (two lawmen and two bystanders), no gangsters in custody.

Further reading:

Crime Museum — John Dillinger

FBI History–Famous Cases: John Dillinger

FBI History–Famous Cases: “Baby Face” Nelson

FBI History–Hall of Honor: W. Carter Baum

Website for the Little Bohemia Lodge