Give Now  »

wfiu logo
WFIU Public Radio

wtiu logo
WTIU Public Television

Choose which station to support!

Indiana Public Media | WFIU - NPR | WTIU - PBS

News Contact IPM News Indiana Public Media News

{ "banners": { "tv" : [ {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU1812B1&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=u12fFHbpcmcp9lAXLh8j061gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/12-21-18-wtiu-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1545368400000", "endingDate" : "1545973140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIUCBABNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=rdFjMyvPPVXjQ9fwgNfItq1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/9-3-19-country-music-passport.png", "startingDate" : "1567526400000", "endingDate" : "1568865540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-17-19_woodstock_webbanner-1.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566705600000", "endingDate" : "1566791940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-20-19_snc_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566273600000", "endingDate" : "1566359940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-18-19_downtonabbey_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566100800000", "endingDate" : "1566187140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-21-19_squirrel_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566360000000", "endingDate" : "1566446340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-19-19_countrymusic_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566187200000", "endingDate" : "1566273540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-22-19_halloates_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566446400000", "endingDate" : "1566532740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-23-19_hlgates_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566532800000", "endingDate" : "1566619140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-16-19_lesmis_webbanner-1.jpg", "startingDate" : "1565928000000", "endingDate" : "1566014340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-24-19_jsebastian_webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1566619200000", "endingDate" : "1566705540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/${child.asset.path}", "startingDate" : "${child.textValue}", "endingDate" : "${child.textValue}"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU0819BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=zK29dWB9DK4XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/8-11-19-poldark.jpg", "startingDate" : "1565496000000", "endingDate" : "1565582340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIUFYEBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=gTbcaRyrlshQ2VEhXvD19K1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/wtiu-add-gift-webbanner.png", "startingDate" : "1561262400000", "endingDate" : "1561953540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0619BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=ROuux%2bsDGqGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/junefunddrivewebbanner.png", "startingDate" : "1559361600000", "endingDate" : "1559447940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0619BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=ROuux%2bsDGqGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/junefunddrivewebbannerda.png", "startingDate" : "1559448000000", "endingDate" : "1559534340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIUIU19BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=ck26B6w8G00XsX%2f3Qawrnb1YhDw50SikSh2nq0qouhg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-10-19-iu-day-web-banner1.png", "startingDate" : "1554868800000", "endingDate" : "1554955140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-2-19-john-denver-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1551502800000", "endingDate" : "1551502740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-3-19-victoria-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1551589200000", "endingDate" : "1551675540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-4-19-bob-hammel-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1551675600000", "endingDate" : "1551761940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-5-19-ken-burns-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1551762000000", "endingDate" : "1551848340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-6-19-goose-pond-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1551848400000", "endingDate" : "1551934740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-7-19-and-3-11-19-terre-haute-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1551934800000", "endingDate" : "1552021140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-8-19-andrea-bocelli-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552021200000", "endingDate" : "1552107540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-9-19-leonard-cohen-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552107600000", "endingDate" : "1552193940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-10-19-mr-rogers-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552194000000", "endingDate" : "1552276740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-7-19-and-3-11-19-terre-haute-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552276800000", "endingDate" : "1552363140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-12-19-neil-diamond-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552363200000", "endingDate" : "1552449540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-13-19-koko-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552449600000", "endingDate" : "1552535940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-14-19-music-makers-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552536000000", "endingDate" : "1552622340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-15-19-to-3-17-19-celtic-woman-webbanner.jpg", "startingDate" : "1552622400000", "endingDate" : "1552881540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0319BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=cBNNql0lnDas8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/3-18-19-wtiuthankyouwebbanner2.png", "startingDate" : "1552881600000", "endingDate" : "1552967940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU1812B2&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=u12fFHbpcmd3vFMjkfshMa1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/12-28-18-wtiu-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1545973200000", "endingDate" : "1546059540000"} , {"url" : " https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU1812B3&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=u12fFHbpcmcFrEOHcSVeuK1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/12-29-18-wtiu-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1546059600000", "endingDate" : "1546232340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU1812B4&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=u12fFHbpcme39fvEx9O1OK1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/12-31-18-wtiu-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1546232400000", "endingDate" : "1546318740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=TIU1812B5&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=u12fFHbpcmcNvkUQcEqs%2f61gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/1-1-19-wtiu-new-years-day.png", "startingDate" : "1546318800000", "endingDate" : "1546405140000"} ], "radio" : [ {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=FIU1812B1&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=XyIs983vlbEp9lAXLh8j061gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/december21webbanner.png", "startingDate" : "1545368400000", "endingDate" : "1545973140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=FIUFYEBNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=6nZddBwmeiZQ2VEhXvD19K1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/wfiu-add-gift-webbanner.png", "startingDate" : "1561262400000", "endingDate" : "1561953540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=W1904BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=RD3vDhbhYNis8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-8-19-day-before-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1554696000000", "endingDate" : "1554782340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0419BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=R3ru4OKcGyGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-9-19-first-day-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1554782400000", "endingDate" : "1554868740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0419BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=R3ru4OKcGyGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-10-19-iu-day-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1554868800000", "endingDate" : "1554955140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0419BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=R3ru4OKcGyGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-11-19-pet-day-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1554955200000", "endingDate" : "1555041540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0419BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=R3ru4OKcGyGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-12-19-five-dollar-friday-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1555041600000", "endingDate" : "1555127940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0419BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=R3ru4OKcGyGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-13-19-weekend-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1555128000000", "endingDate" : "1555300740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0419BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=R3ru4OKcGyGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-15-19-last-day-v1-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1555300800000", "endingDate" : "1555387140000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=F0419BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=R3ru4OKcGyGs8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-16-19-thankyouwebbanner.png", "startingDate" : "1555387200000", "endingDate" : "1555473540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=FIU1812B2&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=XyIs983vlbF3vFMjkfshMa1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/12-28-18-wfiu-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1545973200000", "endingDate" : "1546059540000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=W1904BNR&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=RD3vDhbhYNis8u2OM%2bwh623L5BYddGq6PVAl6UEf65g%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/images/banner-images/4-2-19-pre-drive-web-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1554177600000", "endingDate" : "1554695940000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=FIU1812B3&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=XyIs983vlbEFrEOHcSVeuK1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/12-29-18-wfiu-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1546059600000", "endingDate" : "1546232340000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=FIU1812B4&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=XyIs983vlbG39fvEx9O1OK1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/12-31-18-wfiu-banner.png", "startingDate" : "1546232400000", "endingDate" : "1546318740000"} , {"url" : "https://support.indianapublicmedia.org/alleg/WebModule/Donate.aspx?P=FIU1812B4&PAGETYPE=PLG&CHECK=XyIs983vlbG39fvEx9O1OK1gzMC6uhq5nDjkJobrCdg%3d", "img" : "https://indianapublicmedia.org/banners/banner-images/1-1-19-wfiu-new-years-day.png", "startingDate" : "1546318800000", "endingDate" : "1546405140000"} ] }}
{ "item" : [ {"label" : "t", "mp3" : "as", "startingDate" : "1568692800000", "endingDate" : "1569124800000"} , {"label" : "h", "mp3" : "k", "startingDate" : "1568001600000", "endingDate" : "1568433600000"} ] }

How Indiana Police Helped Bring Gangster John Dillinger To Justice

John Dillinger Wanted Poster

(Adam Pinsker, WFIU/WTIU News)

In the early 1930s, during the height of the Great Depression, Indiana wasn’t the best place to live –especially if you were in the banking or law enforcement business.

“Because at that time we were number four for bank robberies in the United States, so it was very bad in Indiana at the time,” says Lauren Baker, curator of the Indiana State Police Museum in Indianapolis.

Indianapolis native John Dillinger was responsible for a good number of those robberies.

Dillinger and his gang seemed to always be a step ahead of law enforcement.

“All of the local police in Indiana, the county sheriffs and city [police], they didn’t have the authority to cross their lines within their city or their county,” Baker says.

Dillinger Jail Cell
John Dillinger's jail cell at the old Lake County Jail in Crown Point Indiana. (Adam Pinsker, WTIU/WFIU News)


That changed when the Indiana State Police formed in 1933, which had the authority chase criminals statewide.

A year later, Dillinger’s bank robbing exploits turned deadly after he allegedly shot and killed an East Chicago Indiana police officer.

Dillinger and his crew fled the state, and he didn’t keep a low profile. He taunted Indiana State Police Chief Matt Leach along the way.

“There are stories, we don’t have any proof of it, that Dillinger would send post cards or call Matt Leach from where he was because he knew by the time Leach would send someone over he’d be gone,” Baker says. 

Leach would have the last laugh, though, after police arrested Dillinger in Arizona a couple weeks after the officer’s murder.

Leach personally flew out there to escort him back to Indiana.

“He was brought from the Chicago Airport to the Lake County Jail, with an entourage of 13 cars,” says Jim Emerson, who serves on the board of the Old Sheriff’s House and Jail in Lake County.

Since the officer’s murder took place in Lake County, Dillinger was to be held for trial at the Lake County Jail, which still stands today along Main Street.

At the time it was billed as nearly escape-proof.

Wooden Gun
A gun officials believe John Dillinger carved out of wood to use in his escape from jail. (Adam Pinsker, WTIU/WFIU News)

“It would probably still be considered that if the employees followed the rules,” Emerson says. 

Emerson and Baker both say Leach wanted Dillinger held at the state prison in Michigan City instead.

“I think he was so concerned about how small Lake County was at the time, and there were concerns that they would not be able to hold Dillinger because there was probably going to be an attempt at escaping the jail,” Baker says.

Leach’s fears would soon be realized, only a couple months after Dillinger arrived at the jail.

Dillinger’s third-floor cell could only be unlocked from outside the cell block.

Emerson says that help came in the form of this prison employee Sam Cahoon, who accidently left the cell block door open while he retrieved some cleaning supplies.

“So he opened the door, the trustees went in, Dillinger jumped between the trustees and threw Sam Cahoon into the control box and said, I’m getting out of here today and you’re gonna help me," Emerson says.

Using a fake gun Dillinger had apparently carved out of wood, he forced Cahoon to bring other officials up to the cell block, where he locked them up.



After locking up most of the guards and prison staff, Dillinger escaped from the cell block, disarmed most of the staff who were in the kitchen and made his way through the back door.

Dillinger took two hostages at a municipal garage and fled town in the sheriff’s car.

“Went into Illinois, where he dumped the two hostages off," Emerson says.

Dillinger committed a handful of bank robberies after escaping from Lake County, but his criminal career came to an abrupt end after FBI agents shot and killed him outside a Chicago amphitheater.

Lake County’s first female sheriff, Lillian Holley, whose watch Dillinger escaped under, received the brunt of the criticism in the aftermath.

“The newspapers treated her kind of rough, the county commissioners wanted her fired,” Emerson says. 

But the Dillinger saga helped convince Indiana lawmakers that the State Police was an important and necessary agency.

“Not long after Dillinger, the state legislature approved the purchase of two-way radios for State Police, so there were definitely benefits that came out of this crime spree that happened,” Baker says.

Emerson says Indiana’s court system, not the FBI, would have had the final say in Dillinger’s fate if he hadn’t escaped.

“He would have been tried for murder and if convicted he would have gone to the electric chair in Michigan City," he says.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

Find Us on Facebook

Recent Government and Politics Stories