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Dillinger’s escape creates sensation

The Way We Were


At right is a January 1, 1934 photo of desperado John Dillinger near Moore, Ind., taken about two months before Dillinger, whose exploits as a bank robber helped lead to the creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, broke out of jail while brandishing a wooden gun. (AP Photo)

At right is a January 1, 1934 photo of desperado John Dillinger near Moore, Ind., taken about two months before Dillinger, whose exploits as a bank robber helped lead to the creation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, broke out of jail while brandishing a wooden gun. (AP Photo)

On March 3, 1934, gangster John Dillinger, broke out of the “escape proof” Crown Point, Indiana jail after threatening jail personnel with a wooden gun he had whittled since he was arrested there for allegedly killing a police officer.

Five days after the arrest of Dillinger, Mountain Eagle editor and publisher Nehemiah M. Webb was already tiring of the news coverage surrounding Dillinger’s escape, which Time magazine today lists as one of its “Top 10 Prison Escapes.”

Warning of the sensationalism still to come, Webb wrote in the March 8, 1934 edition of The Eagle: “When the time gets ripe for you to get out jail, trim yourself out a wooden pistol, black it with shoe polish or soot, point it at the guards whether they are asleep or awake and walk out.

“This is the way John Dillinger, the world’s most notorious bank robber, crook and murderer did so as to make good his escape a few days ago This little escapade will furnish the newspapers something to print for at least a month. It would not do to arrest him sooner or the sensation might end.

“In a way this has always been a funny world, but if any different it is funnier in these days.”


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