Mary Evelyn Frechette, known to everyone as "Billie," was born in 1907. Her father was French; her mother was Native-American. Until she was thirteen, Billie lived on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin. Thereafter, she attended a boarding school in Flandreau, South Dakota.
At eighteen, Billie moved to Chicago. Working as a waitress, and also as a nursemaid, she married Welton Sparks (who received a prison sentence, in 1933, for committing mail robbery). She was still married when she met John Dillinger.
We learn additional details about Billie from PBS:
Frechette later told True Confessions magazine that as result of her husband's incarceration, she had a "blurred attitude toward life." In November 1933, she met John Dillinger at a dance hall. She said, "There was something in those eyes that I will never forget. They were piercing and electric, yet there was an amused carefree twinkle in them too. They met my eyes and held me hypnotized for an instant."
Frechette, who was then 26, described the 30-year-old Dillinger as a gentleman: "John was good to me. He looked after me and bought me all kinds of jewelry and cars and pets, and we went places and saw things, and he gave me everything a girl wants. He treated me like a lady."
Photo of Billie Frechette, online courtesy PBS.
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