Before any murder charges were made against John Dillinger, he was wanted for bank robbery. This "wanted poster" provides details about his personal appearance. Although he was never charged with murdering the Allen County Sheriff—who was killed during the Lima, Ohio prison break—the wanted poster also includes this handwritten notation: Wanted for Murder at Lima, O. Photo online, courtesy FBI.


Before Dillinger could rob banks with his former-inmate buddies, the men needed more guns, ammo and bullet-proof vests.  After the Lima, Ohio jail break, they visited other law-enforcement offices where they helped themselves to whatever they needed.

The men used the “Lamm Method” as they successfully carried out their robberies.  Credited as the first bank robber to meticulously plan his hits and escapes, Herman K. (“Baron”) Lamm (whose name led to the phrase "on the lam") pioneered a system (which Dillinger learned, especially from Walter Dietrich, while in the Michigan City prison). 

Banks (called "jugs") had to be “cased,” for example, requiring detailed answers (gathered by "jug makers") to specific questions.  Where were the alarms, the guards, the vaults and the tellers?  Who would play what role in the robbery? 

To provide a safe exit, who would create the “gits” (as detailed getaway maps were known)?  Who would drive the getaway car, or make sure that cans of gasoline were appropriately hidden at key places along the escape route?

Many Americans, at the time, thought bankers were greedy people who’d contributed to the country’s deplorable financial condition.  As long as bank robbers weren’t killing people, they were viewed as modern-day Robin Hoods.  Dillinger was one of those people—until the day he reportedly shot and killed Patrick O’Malley.

On the 15th of January, 1934, Johnnie didn’t follow his normal planning process.  Likely short on cash, he and Red Hamilton decided to rob 1st National Bank & Trust in the mill town of East Chicago, Indiana.  Using hostages for protection, the men escaped the bank—money in tow.

Hunching behind Hobart Wilgus, a police-officer-turned-human shield, Dillinger moved toward the getaway car.  When he was just steps away from it, Johnnie heard someone shout-out Wilgus’ name. 

As the officer turned, Detective Patrick O’Malley had a clear shot at his target.  At least one of his bullets hit Dillinger’s protective vest.

Immediately thereafter, O’Malley was struck by a submachine-gun burst.  With eight holes across his chest, the father of three young girls dropped dead on the sidewalk.

Officer Wilgus said the shots were Dillinger’s, although Johnnie denied it.  He knew the public would never approve of such actions.

Although the robbers got away, both were injured—and—Dilllinger was wanted for murder.  If he were caught, and convicted, he would likely face death in the electric chair.

At the time, however, there was at least one positive element in Dillinger’s life.  Two months before the East Chicago robbery, he’d met a girl and ... fell in love.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jul 01, 2009

Updated Last Revision: Jul 08, 2019

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"DILLINGER THE BANK ROBBER" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 01, 2009. Jun 02, 2020.
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