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Public Enemy #1

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Timeline: John Dillinger 1903-1935

1903 - 1933 | 1934 - 1935


%June 22: John Herbert Dillinger is born in Indianapolis. His father, John Wilson Dillinger, owns a grocery store.


Prohibition begins. The 18th Amendment is ratified by 36 states, making it illegal to produce, transport, or sell alcohol.


%John Wilson Dillinger moves his family to a farm in Mooresville, Indiana.


December 4: After only five months in the Navy, twenty-year-old Dillinger goes AWOL.


%April 12: Dillinger marries 16-year-old Beryl Hovious.

May: J. Edgar Hoover is appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation. His appointment will become permanent in January, 1925.

September 6: Dillinger and Ed Singleton rob Frank Morgan, a Mooresville grocer. Although Dillinger strikes him with an iron bolt wrapped in cloth, Morgan is not seriously hurt.

September 16: Dillinger arrives at the Indiana State Reformatory in Pendleton to serve 10 to 20 years for assaulting and robbing Frank Morgan. Singleton receives 2 to 14 years.


%February 14: Seven men are killed by unidentified mobsters in Chicago's St. Valentine's Day Massacre. Al Capone is blamed for the incident, but the case is never solved.

May 13-15: Mafia leaders from the Midwest and East Coast meet in Atlantic City to develop a system of arbitration. They solidify networks made through bootlegging and become a national organization.

June 20: Beryl Hovious divorces Dillinger on the ground that he is a convicted felon. He is devastated.

July 15: An embittered Dillinger is sent to the Indiana State Prison, to live among more hardened criminals, upon his own request.

October 24: The Stock Market crashes on Wall Street. The Great Depression begins.


April 24: The first list of public enemies is published by the Chicago Crime Commission -- with Al Capone in first place.

Hollywood's version of gangster life captivates the nation in the first of many Depression-era crime movies, Little Caesar.


%October 24: Al Capone is sentenced to 11 years in prison for income tax evasion.

James Cagney becomes a Hollywood star for his definitive performance as criminal Tommy Powers in the wildly successful gangster film, The Public Enemy.


March 1: Charles Lindbergh's infant son is kidnapped. The D.O.I. rejects Capone's offers of help in finding him. From prison, Capone says he is sure that no organized crime gang committed the crime.

June 22: The "Lindbergh Law" is passed, making it a federal crime to transport a kidnapped person across state lines for ransom. July 1: The Justice Department Bureau of Investigation is officially renamed the U.S. Bureau of Investigation.


%March 4: Franklin Delano Roosevelt is inaugurated as the 32nd president of the United States.

May 22: Dillinger's stepmother is dying and he is released on parole from Michigan City Prison, thanks to a petition signed by 184 Mooresville residents. By the time he arrives home, his stepmother is already dead.

%June 10: Dillinger robs his first bank, in New Carlisle, Ohio. He takes $10,600.

June 17: Men armed with machine guns try to free prison escapee Frank Nash from special agents who have recaptured him, in the Kansas City Massacre. Nash is killed, as are one special agent and three other law enforcement officials. Pretty Boy Floyd and two accomplices are blamed, but the crime remains unsolved to this day.

July 27: President Roosevelt meets with Attorney General Homer S. Cummings to discuss a "super-police force" to fight interstate crime. He says he will use the Bureau of Investigation.

%The American Catholic Bishops call for Hollywood to stop producing offensive films glorifying gangster life, in an effort that will create the Legion of Decency in April 1934 and a nationwide pledge by concerned Catholics to boycott gangster movies.

August 10: The Bureau of Investigation is expanded and renamed the Division of Investigation (D.O.I.).

September 22: After committing several robberies, Dillinger is arrested in Dayton, Ohio, and sent to the Allen County Jail in Lima, Ohio.

%September 26: Using guns smuggled in by Dillinger, ten men escape from the Indiana State Prison. Among them are Harry Pierpont, Charles Makley, John Hamilton, Walter Dietrich, and Russell Clark, who will later form the Dillinger gang.

October 12: Pierpont, Makley, and Clark free Dillinger from jail in Lima, Ohio. Pierpont kills Sheriff Jesse Sarber in the process.

October 23: The Dillinger gang robs Central National Bank in Greencastle, Indiana. They take $75,000.

%December 5: Prohibition is repealed by the 21st Amendment.

December 16: The Chicago Police Department forms the "Dillinger Squad." It comprises 40 men and is led by Captain John Stege.

December 20: The Dillinger gang goes to Florida for a vacation. Dillinger brings his girlfriend, Evelyn "Billie" Frechette.

1903 - 1933 | 1934 - 1935

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