Crime in 1934
In 1934, the disillusioned American public considered John a hero, lauding his bold antics such as holding up police stations and clever prison breakouts (once by threatening officers with a wooden gun). But J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI, thought otherwise and declared John Dillinger Public Enemy Number One and vowed that they would do anything necessary to assure his capture.
Their big break finally came on July 22, 1934 when Sage, a madam of a brothel in Gary, Indiana, phoned the bureau with a tip. Sage, known later as the Mysterious Woman in Red, was about to be deported back to her native Romania. Working out a deal with the FBI, Sage promised to lure Dillinger into a death trap at the Biograph Theater. That night, Dillinger died in a hail of bullets. Or did he?
Experts in the history of American crime claim that the FBI was duped. They assert that Sage, Dillinger, and a local detective worked out a scheme to assure Dillinger’s timely escape. Sage did attend the theater that night but the man she was with was not Dillinger but rather a small time gangster named James Lawrence. The FBI recognized their mistake immediately but to avoid national ridicule the concocted a story and falsified evidence to convince the American public that Dillinger’s days of crime were over.
But photos of the dead Dillinger revealed some startling facts, namely the person who perished that night did not look like Dillinger. The FBI countered that Dillinger had obtained extensive plastic surgery to disguise himself from the authorities. The autopsy report could have strengthened their case but it mysteriously disappeared and did not resurface until 30 years later. When it did, the discrepancies contained within were astonishing.
The man that died that night was neither the same height nor weight than Dillinger.
The dead man had brown eyes while it was a well known fact that Dillinger’s eyes were bright blue.
Dillinger’s well publicized birth mark was not mentioned in the autopsy report.
The report stated that the dead man had more teeth than Dillinger.
And finally, there was evidence that the dead man had a rheumatic heart, a condition that would have certainly prevented Dillinger from serving in the U.S. Navy.
The FBI continues to deny the discrepancies and claims that they were nothing more than untimely mistakes made in the coroner’s office.