Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1934
Chicago Tribune, July 23, 1934
July 22—John Dillinger, America’s public enemy No. 1 and the most notorious criminal of recent times, was shot and killed at 10:40 o clock last night by federal agents a few seconds after he had left the Biograph theater at 2433 Lincoln avenue.
Two bullets penetrated the chest and another the neck of the desperate outlaw. He died as he was being taken to the Alexian Brothers’ hospital. The body was later removed to the county morgue, where the identification of Dillinger was made positive by finger prints despite the fact that he had blurred his finger tips with acid.
Dies as He Draws Gun.
According to Melvin H. Purvis, chief of the investigating forces of the department of justice in Chicago, and leader of the band of sixteen men who had waited for more than two hours while the desperado viewed his last picture show, Dillinger attempted to put up a fight.
“He saw me give a signal to my men to close in,” said Purvis. “He became alarmed, reached into a belt and was drawing the .38 caliber pistol he carried concealed when two of the agents let him have it. Dillinger was lying prone before he was able to get the gun out and I took it from him.”
Surgery on His Face.
Dillinger had taken great precautions to prevent himself being recognized. His face had been lifted and a scar, one of his most prominent identifying marks, removed by a surgical process. His once reddish brown hair had been dyed black and he had cultivated a small, carefully trimmed mustache, also jet black.
“It was a good job the surgeon did,” said Purvis, “but I knew him the minute I saw him. You couldn’t miss if you had studied that face as much as I have.”
Mr. Purvis later said his men brought him a set of finger prints taken from the body and from them he was able to establish the identity of the slain man without any doubt. He said the acid treat- ed finger tips had not proved ef- fective, the impressions remaining and the whorls being distinguish- able, and his men had no difficulty in the comparison.
Photo-Diagram Shows Hows Dillinger, Nation’s Worst Criminal, Was Slain By U. S. Agents In Trap Leaving Theater.
(1) Dillinger leaving theater at 2433 Lincoln avenue, accompanied by two women who were following him; (2) he starts south on Lincoln avenue, the women still behind him; they pass in, front of tavern; (3) in front of tea store women see officers ready-to spring trap and flee; (4) agents open fire on Dillinger as he approaches alleyway and he falls mortally wounded, two bullets having penetrated his chest and another his neck.
Two Women Wounded.
Two women, passersby who had no connection with the outlaw, were wounded by stray bullets fired at him. They are Mrs. Etta Natalsky, 45 years old, 2431 Lincoln avenue, struck in the left leg, and Miss Theresa Paulus, 27 years old, 2920 Commonwealth avenue, whose left side was grazed. Their wounds, it was learned, were not serious.
Purvis and ten of his own men, accompanied by Capt. Timothy O’Neill and four members of the East Chicago police force, went to the vicinity of the theater at about 8:30 p. m. They had received information during the afternoon that the most noted of American outlaws would attend the performance of Manhattan Melodrama, a gang and gun movie featuring Clark Gable and William Powell,- during the evening.
The sixteen men posted themselves strategically, some at all possible exits of the theater, with groups to the north and south and one detail on the opposite side of busy Lincoln avenue. Samuel P. Cowley, Mr. Purvis’ first assistant, had charge of placing the men. Purvis, seating himself in his automobile at the curb a few feet south of the showhouse, watched.
It was approximately 8:30 when walked up to the entrance and purchased a ticket or tickets. It has not been determined how many; Chicago policemen who happened to be at the scene, said he was accompanied by two women, one dressed in red, but Purvis said he saw none. Passing into the theater, Dillillger took a seat.
While be was inside the agents completed their preparations for his emergence. There were so many of them, and their actions seemed, to the theater end to observers in the neighborhood, to be so suspicious that the Sheffield avenue police were notified. Policemen Frank Slattery, Edward Meisterheime and Michael Garrity, who investigated, were shown badges by the watchers.
Wait Over Two Hours.
The outlaw remained in the theater for two hours and four minutes. During this time Purvis several times went in and walked through the aisles, but was unable to locate his man in the darkness.
When Dlllinger at length came out he appeared completely at ease. He wore a straw hat, a white silk shirt, a gray tie with black, white canvas shoes and gray trousers of a summer type. He had on no coat and the agents erroneously assumed that he carried no pistol.
“I was standing in the entrance of the Goetz Country club, a tavern just south of the theater.” said Purvis. “when he walked by. He gave me a piercing look. Just after he went by and was midway of the next building, a Natlonal Tea company store, I raised my hand and gave the prearranged signal.
North Side Throngs Flock To Scene Of John Dillinger’s Slaying.
Crowds which increased momentarily last night when news spread of the dangerous outlaw’s slaying by federal agents shown as they milled about the scene of the desperado s last stand.
Men Close In.
“Dillinger went on, perhaps another dozen feet, and down a curb to the mouth of an alley. My men, at least five or six. were closing in on him. I had thought it impossible he could have a weapon concealed and the plan was to seize him, pinion his arms and make him a prisoner. However, the men were instructed to take no chances.
“Becoming suspicious. Dillinger whirled around toward the men closing in. He was facing, I believe, toward the dark alley when he reached for his pistol. And that when ,the shots that killed him were fired. Four altogether were fired. Three took effect.
Instantly there was a great commotion. The injured women screamed. George Gordon, son-in-law of Mrs. Natalsky and owner of the Goetz tavern, hearing that she was injured, ran out to the alley. Seeing the man lying in the alley, he cried:
“I think that s my brother-in-law.” The agents, roughly pushing him back, told him to be quiet and not to interfere. The victim, they assured him, was not his brother-in-law.
Purvis leaned over the dying outlaw, looked at a gold ring which Dillinger was known to wear as a luck piece at all times, took his pistol, and ordered that he be taken to the nearest hospital.
There was a quick run to the Alexian Brothers’ hospital, but the institution would not admit Dillinger as a patient. There was a very good reason for this. He was dead. The body was laid carefully on the grass in front of the hospital, while four of the agents stood guard over it until the arrival of a deputy coroner. This gave permission for the removal of the body to the county morgue.
Bystanders surrounding the blood of John Dillinger near an alley by the Biograph Theater on July 22, 1934.
Names of Agents Withheld.
Purvis declined to give out the of the men who had fired on the notorious outlaw, nor would he elaborate on the manner in which the information leading to the killing had been obtained.
“There were two or three men who fired,” he declared. I was not one of them. But they were federal agents.”
The East Chicago police squad which helped to Dillinger, headed by Capt. O’Neil, was composed of Sergts. Walter Conroy, Martin Zarkovich, and Glenn Stretch and Detective Joseph Sopsic.
Capt. O’Neil took part in the fight in front of the First National Bank of East Chicago on Jan. 14 when Dillinger and his lieutenant, John Hamilton, escaped with $20,000 loot after fatally wounding Sergt. William P. O’Malley.
Editorial Cartoon, Chicago Tribune July 24, 1934
Great Crowd Gathers.
Some of the observers of the drama declared that the girl in red, who dropped behind Dillinger as he emerged front the theater, raised her hand with a handkerchief in it. It was the opinion of these observers that the girl in red was the “finger” and was co-operating with time agents. At any rate, she disappeared after the shooting and there was no clew to her identity.
Within a few minutes a great throng had gathered about the mouth of the alley. The word had gone forth that John Dillinger, a character known to all as the most determined and wary killer on the continent, bad paid his last debt to society. Also hastening to the scene, and seeking information, were dozens of squads of Chicago policemen, who had been kept in the dark about the presence of Dillinger in the city.
Dillinger, according to Purvis, had been in Chicago only a few days. The leader of the federal agents explained that the presence of the East Chicago policemen at the scene was due partly to coincidence.
Narrow Escape for Policeman.
Policemen Slattery and Meisterlheim, who were in civilian clothing, were near the scene of the shooting wilen it occurred. According to Slattery, one of the agents told him after it was over that he was among the luckiest of men.
“When we got the signal you were close to Dillinger.” said the agent. “You looked like Dillinger and I was about to shoot you when the other fellows let loose and killed the right man.”
Mr. Purvis said the rewards offered for Dillinger’s capture or death amounted to $15,000 and will be paid to a person whose name he would not reveal and who, he said, gave him the information that led to the slayings. The government had offered $10,000 and the states of Indiana and Minnesota are to pay $5,000, he sald.
The inquest into Dlllinger’s death will be held at the county morgue at 11:30 this morning. It will probably be conducted by Coroner Flrank J. Walsh, assisted by Deputy Jacob Schewvel.
Dillinger’s body on display to the public at the Cook County morgue.
Chicago Tribune, September 29, 1935
Mrs. Anna Sage (Ana Cumpanas), the “woman in red,” told yesterday how she had betrayed John Dillinger to the federal government for a price. The price, she says, was permission to stay in this country. She didn’t get this permission. In fact, the government was about to deport her yesterday when it was halted by a writ of habeas corpus. She charged that the federal government authorities paid her $5,000 and repudiated their promise to let her stay here.
Mrs.Sage, formerly madame of a Gary resort, told the dramatic story of her betrayal of Dillinger to her lawyers, Thomas J. Johnson Jt. and Nicholas J. Bohling. It was they who obtained the writ yesterday from Federal Judge John P. Barnes which calls for a hearing next Thursday on the Dillinger bargain and the alleged unkept promises.
Her Deportation Halted.
But for the writ Mrs. Sage would have been placed aboard a train last night, with Ellis Island the next stopping place. From there she would have been shipped to Rumania, the country of her birth.
Mrs. Sage admitted in her story she was responsible for the Dillinger trap of July 22, 1934, when the outlaw was killed in front of the Biograph theater, 2453 Lincoln avenue. It was the first statement she had made of the betrayal.
It was also the first time she had made public the story of the government’s alleged payment to her of the $5,000 reward to Polly Hamilton Keele, the last sweetheart of Dillinger, for her part in the outlaw’s betrayal.
Women at Dillinger’s Side.
The government has given no indication of whether the story of these two rewards is true. But it will be revealed that Mrs. Sage dressed in red, and pretty Mrs. Keele, walked arm in arm with Dillinger as they left the movie theater on that fatal night.
Mrs. Sage had twice been convicted of keeping a disorderly resort in Indiana. Former Gov. Harry Leslie granted her full pardons late in 1932. The government, nevertheless, started deportation proceedings against her.
Chicago Police Sure of Deal.
Chicago police have been certain since the night of Dillinger’s death that Mrs. Sage and her friend of many years, Sergt. Martin Zarkovich of East Chicago, had made a “deal” with the government. Zarkovich and his superior officer, Captain Timothy O’Neil, assisted in the slaying of Dillinger and a $5,000 reward was known to have been divided between them.
Chicago police also have suspected that Mrs. Sage visited Dillinger at the Crown Point, Ind. jail shortly before his “wooden gun escape” on March 3, 1934. Supervising Captain John Stege has said he is certain that Mrs. Sage smuggled in a real pistol to Dillinger, who was in jail waiting trial for the murder of an East Chicago policeman. Stege has scouted the wooden gun story.
Admissions for Own Benefit.
In the hearing next Thursday before Federal Judge Barnes Mrs. Sage admittedly must depend on Sergt. Zarkovich to testify to the alleged bargain she made with the “G men.”
Federal prosecutors undoubtedly will point out that her admissions now are made solely for her own benefit. Mrs. Sage, her attorneys admit, is trying to prove that government men welched on a bargain.
Mrs. Sage alleges she told Zarkovich she knew where Dillinger could be captured, but that in return for telling she wanted to be saved from deportation. Zarkovich was with her, she charges, when Melvin Purvis, then head of the Chicago office of the bureau of investigation of the department of justice, promised her she would not be deported if she “turned up” Dillinger.
Another party to a later promise, she said, was Inspector Samuel P. Crowley of the department of justice, who was later killed by George (Baby Face) Nelson, a Dillinger man, in the gun battle at Barrington.
Mrs. Anna Sage (left), the “woman in red,” who was with John Dillinger when he was shot to death by federal agents July 22, 1934, yesterday saved herself from immediate deportation by asserting government had promised to halt proceedings in return for information on outlaw. At the right is Polly Hamilton Keele, sweetheart of the outlaw, who was also with him when he was slain.
Purvis Refuses to Comment.
Mr. Purvis, who left the federal service some time ago, refused yesterday to comment on Mrs. Sage’s story. He declined to say whether he would be witness at Thursday’s hearing, although Attorney Johnson was trying to subpoena him. J. Edgar Hoover, chief of the bureau of investigation in Washington, insisted that no deal had been made to permit Mrs. Sage to remain in this country as a reward for betraying Dillinger.
Therefore, Mrs. Sage must lean on Sergt. Zarkovich’s friendship and memory for proof of the pact, Attorney Johnson said. For years she and Zarkovich were friends. After Zarkovich’s wife divorced him there were rumors that he had married or intended to marry Mrs. Sage, Indiana authorities said.
Attorney General Phillip Lutz of Indiana said ojlast night that he still believes the Sage woman had a hand in freeing Dillinger from the Crown Point jail. He said she is expected to be in his office in Indianapolis tomorrow. She wants help from the Indiana authorities in her efforts to avoid deportation.
Story of Mrs. Sage.
A summary of Mrs. Sage’s story as it appears in a statement shown to reporters yesterday by Attorney Johnson, follows:
- I was living at 2858 North Clark street with my son. Polly Hamilton, who had been married to an East Chicago policeman named Keele and who had worked for me in Gary as a waitress, frequently visited me. One day she brought along a man she introduced as Jim Lawrence a board of trade man, who was married and was afraid his wife was having him watched.
They used my home frequently as a meeting place after that. I moved to 2420 North Halsted street and they came there. After a time I recognized the man as Dillinger and told Polly never to bring him to my house again. She said he wouldn’t at her hotel and she had to have a place to entertain him.
She Notifies Zarkovich.
Finally I communicated with Sergt. Zarkovich. I told him I thought I knew where to find Dillinger and that I wanted to avoid being deported. He asked me to meet him one day and he had Mr. Purvis with him. I told Mr. Purvis the same thing and he said he would call off the immigration authorities.
I told him Dillinger came to my house frequently. He told me to telephone him the next time Dillinger called, and he gave me his secret telephone number. That was on Thursday night (July 19, 1934). Sunday afternoon (July 22) Dillinger and Polly came to my house.
Dillinger talked of taking us to a moving picture theater, He didn’t say which one. I said I would go out and get something for dinner. I called Mr. Purvis when I went out.
Conversation with Purvis.
He asked me what movie we were going to. I told him I didn’t know. He said he would have my house watched and would follow Dilinger when he came out. I made dinner and afterwards Dillinger, Polly and I walked downstairs. Dillinger had no coat on. I never saw him carry a gun.
I saw Mr. Purvis a short distance from my doorway. I noticed that he followed us. We went around the corner to the Biograph where there was a picture about a gangster.
I learned later that Mr. Purvis sent agents to theaters all over the city. Sergt. Zarkovich was watching a theater on the west side. All the men had orders to call Purvis’ office every five minutes. Zarkovich said he finally was told to hurry to the Biograph theater.
Theater is Surrounded.
He saud Purvis stationed men all around the theater and at every corner for a mile in every direction to get Dillinger if he got away from those surrounding the theater.
When the picture was over the three of us walked out. Dillinger was between us, Polly and I each took one of his arms. I saw Mr. Purvis from the corner of my eye. He was coming toward us. I saw Zarkovich. I thought: ‘Now they are going to arrest him’ and I stepped aside.
In the same second I heard shots. There was Dillinger on the sidewalk dead. Someone tried to grab my arm. Polly and I hurried away to my home. I changed clothes and went back to the corner. Polly hurried to her hotel room and changed clothes.
She Goes to Purvis’ Office.
Two nights later Zarkovich called me. I told him I was afraid people would find out about me. He took me to Purvis’ office in the Bankers’ building. Mr. Cowley talked to me there and told me the government appreciated my help. He asked where Polly was. I called Polly and some agents met her and brought her to the office.
The next night the Chicago police found me and took me to the Sheffield avenue police station. While Capt. Thomas Duffy was questioning me, Mr. Cowley came to the police station. He stopped the questioning and took me to the government office.1
The government men decided Polly and I should get out of town. We were taken to Michigan and kept in a hotel for two weeks at government expense. Then I said I had relatives in California and I was sent there.
Paid $3,500 in California.
While I was in California Agent Cowley visited me and gave me $5,000. I told him I wanted the deportation matter straightened out. He said it had been taken up in Washington. I told him I wanted to see Mr. Hoover. He said he didn’t think Mr. Hoover would see me but I could go to Washington if I wanted to. I went there and Hoover wouldn’t see me. I talked to the stenographer.
I came back to Chicago and talked to Mr. Purvis. He said he didn’t understand why Washington didn’t call off the deportation. He said Mr. Hoover had taken my case up with the department of labor and everything would be all right.
In Chicago I talked with Mr. Schlotfeldt, superintendent of immigration and naturalization. I didn’t tell him I traded Dillinger to the government in return for permission to stay here. I thought he would find that out from Mr. Purvis or from Washington.
Mrs. Sage in Court.
Mrs. Sage was under bond to surrender yesterday morning at Mr. Schlotfeldt’s office. Arrangements had been made to include her in a shipment of aliens last night. Right after her surrender Attorneys Johnson and Bohling appeared before Judge Barnes with a petition for the writ of habeas corpus.
The writ was issued and served on Schlotfeldt commanding him to produce Mrs. Sage in Judge Barnes’ court. Attorney Johnson then informed the court of Mrs. Sage’s statement and said his client had done her part and the government should now show its good faith.
Assistant United States Attorney Austin Hall was in court representing the government. Judge Barnes asked who had authority to make such an agreement. Johnson answered that Purvis had done so. Hall said he knew nothing of the matter. Judge Barnes then set the Thursday (October 3) hearing, allowing Mrs. Sage liberty meanwhile on bond of $1,000.
Hearing was changed to October 16, 1935, which the judge said the Dillinger betrayal deal was immaterial. In January 1936, allegedly, the FBI told her they could not stop the procedures, due to bureaucracy or poor communication between branches of the federal government, and Mrs. Sage (Cumpanas) was deported to Timisoara, Romania, the same year. Making a point of shunning further publicity, she lived there until her death from liver disease on April 25, 1947.
High Points in Life of John Dillinger
Below are the highlights, in chronological order, of the career of John Dillinger, Indiana desperado:
June 28, 1902—Born in Indianapolis.
May 18, 1928—Released on parole.
July 16, 1929—Sentenced to serve 6 to 10 years in Michigan City penitentiary for robbery of Grovertown, Ind., grocer.
May 23, 1933—Released on parole.
July 17—Dalesville, Ind. Commercial Bank robbed of $3,500. Dillinger suspected.
Sept. 22—Dillinger arrested at Dayton, O.; and identified for part in robbery of Bluffton, O.; New Carlisle, O.; Farrell, Pa.; and Indianapolis banks.
Sept. 26—Ten convicts escaped from Michigan City prison. Later learned Dillinger aided in escape by smuggling weapons to convicts beforee his arrest.
Sept. 28—Dillinger turned over to Sherif Jess Sarber at Linus, O., for Bluffton bank holdup.
Oct. 12—Dillinger released by three of the escaped convicts who shot and killed Sherif Sarber.
Nov. 11—Dillinger eludes trap set for him by Chicago police in doctor’s office.
Nov. 20—Dillinger leads gang in $27,000 robbery of American Bank and Trust company at Racine.
Jan. 14, 1934—Dillinger kills Policeman William P. O’Malley in $16,000 robbery of bank in East Chicago.
Jan. 25—Dillinger arrested with three members of his gang and three women in hideaway at Tucson, Ariz.
Jan. 30—Dillinger returned by plane and automobile to Crown Point to stand trial for murder of Policeman O’Malley.
March 3—Dillinger escapes from Crown Point jail.
March 31—Dillinger shot his way out of police trap in St. Paul.
April 23—Dillinger escaped federal agents’ trap at resort neer Mercer, Wis., killing an agent and a CWA worker.
June 30—Bandit identified by three persons as Dillinger led robbery of Merchants’ National bank in South Bend, Ind., in which a policeman was slain, four other persons were wounded, and loot of $29,890 was taken.
July 22—Dillinger shot to death in Chicago.
John Dillinger, center, is handcuffed to Deputy Sheriff R. M. Pierce, left, during Dillinger’s court hearing in Crown Point, Indiana, during the first weeks of February 1934. Dillinger was charged with killing patrolman William O’Malley, 43, during a bank robbery in East Chicago, Indiana, on Jan. 15, 1934. His trial date was set for March 12, 1934. Dillinger would break out of the Crown Point jail on March 3, 1934.
Chicago Tribune, March 1, 1960
Famed FBI Agent Purvis Kills Himself
Florence, S.C., Feb. 29—Melvin H. Purvis, 56, who headed the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the early 1930’s and led the group of FBI men and police who shot down John Dillinger on July 22, 1934, died Monday of a self-inflicted bullet wound.
Purvis, who resigned from the FBI in July, 1935, used a chrome plated .45 caliber automatic pistol to send a bullet crashing into his head when his wife, Rosanne, who had been in the yard of their home, found him on the floor of the second story hallway.
Heads Radio Station
Dr. Walter Meade, his personal physician, said Purvis had been “in bad health, despondent, and depressed” but did not elaborate. Purvis had been stricken with influenza three weeks ago in Washington, D.C., where he maintained a law office, and had been at home for the last two weeks.
Except for the World War II period, when he helped track down war criminals as a colonel in the army war crime units, Purvis had led a quiet life as business man and lawyer. He was president and part owner of radio station WOLS here.
The killing of Dillinger brought Purvis national fame but was only one of several exploits in his FBI career.
Purvis was also in in the capture and killing of the notorious Charles (Pretty Boy) Floyd in a cornfield near Wells, O., on Oct. 22, 1934, and captured Vern Sankey, Denver kidnapper, in a Chicago barber chair. Sankey later committed suicide in jail.
Dillinger had the unquestioned rating of the nation’s No. 1 criminal at the time he was killed. In a crime wave lasting a little more than a year, Dillinger and hos gang robbed four banks of $300,000, killed 10 men, wounded seven. looted three police arsenals, and broke out of three jails.
Dillinger was trapped by Purvis and his men at the Biograph theater on Chicago’s near north side. The FBI had assistance from the late Mrs. Anna Sage, a Gary bagnio keeper, who had tipped off agents that Dillinger planned to go to the theater that night with a girl friend, Helen Hamilton Keele. Mrs. Sage went to the theater also, wearing a conspicuous red dress, and pointed out Dillinger to waiting agents.
Purvis was disappointed later when the immigration service pushed a deportation case against Mrs. Sage. He had promised her FBI help in this case in return for her betrayal of Dillinger. She was paid reward money but the government insisted on deporting her. Friends of Purvis said this was one of the reasons he quit the FBI a year later.
Joins FBI in 1927
Purvis was born at Timmonsville, S.C., and opened a law office in Florence after graduation in 1925 from the University of South Carolina law school. He joined the FBI in 1927 and after assignments in several cities was sent to Chicago as agent in charge in 1932. His first Chicago job was the collection of evidence for the trial of the late Samuel Insull, utility magnate, who was acquitted of fraud charges.
Purvis was a bachelor at the time of his Chicago exploits. He had a widely publicized romance in 1937 with Janice Jarrett, 23 of San Antonio, then known as the most photographed model in the world. Flowers had been bought for their wedding scheduled for April 29, 1937, in San Antonio, when it was announced that there would be no wedding. Purvis sailed alone for Europe a few days later.
Purvis was married Sept. 14, 1938, to the former Mrs. Rosanne Wilcox Taylor of Florence. The had three sons, Melvin III, Philip, and Christopher.
1In the statement to Capt. Duffy Mrs. Sage declared she had not known Dillinger’s identity until he was killed. She denied informing the government agents.