Daytona, Tucson and Crown Point
Five days later, the gang made another spectacular robbery, getting over $27,000 from the American Bank and Trust Company in Racine, Wisconsin. Although nobody was killed, several bursts of machine gun fire were unleashed to scare away bystanders and approaching law enforcement officials. Several hostages were taken. Some sat in the car with the bandits while others were forced to ride on the running boards of the automobile providing a human shield for the escaping gang.
After laying low in Chicago for one month, the gang headed to Daytona Beach, Florida, to celebrate Christmas and New Years Eve. Shortly before they left, the police received a tip that one of the gangs cars was being repaired at a local garage. Staking it out, the tip paid off when Red Hamilton and his girlfriend showed up to retrieve the auto. Unfortunately, when a Chicago police sergeant confronted Hamilton, the bank robber drew first and fatally wounded the officer.
The Chicago Police Department then established an elite group dubbed the Dillinger Squad, headed by Captain John Stege, to track down the gang. Six days later the special squad kicked down a Chicago apartment door and blasted three gunmen to death. For three hours it was believed the Dillinger gang had been wiped out until fingerprints revealed the dead men were three wanted Jewish criminals. Just two days before, Matt Leachs men accidentally killed a law enforcement officer in Illinois as they surrounded and captured Ed Shouse, who had recently returned from California.
Before Christmas arrived, Dillinger and Billie had another one of their jealous spats for which they were becoming famous ending in Billie being ordered back home to Wisconsin. This didnt bring Dillinger much joy, as he now had to spend the holidays alone while the rest of the gang had their girlfriends or wives with them.
Shortly after New Years, Pierpont decided the gang should head for Tucson, Arizona. Police all over the Midwest were still looking for them and the gang had plenty of money to continue to lay low. Dillinger decided to drive back and get Billie. Hamilton went with him. Along the way the two decided to rob the First National Bank of Gary, Indiana on January 15, 1934. This foolish impulse would be a costly one as Hamilton was wounded and Dillinger killed police officer William Patrick OMalley during the escape.
The rest of the gang was not faring well either. On January 23, the hotel in which Makley and Clark were staying caught fire. Fire fighters, at the request of the two, went into their third floor room and saved their luggage, including one bag which contained their weapons. The following day one of the firemen recognized Clark from a picture in True Detective magazine and notified police. Dillinger and Billie arrived later that day and registered in a motor court near Pierpont and his girlfriend, Mary Kinder. The next day Tucson police rounded up all four gang members in short order and without one shot being fired. The Tucson police had done in five hours what law enforcement agencies all over the Midwest had been unable to do in four months.
The next few days were a circus as news crews were allowed to photograph and interview the famous prisoners. Meanwhile, law enforcement officers from three states were fighting over where the men were going to be extradited. Ohio wanted Pierpont, Makley and Clark for the Sheriff Sarber killing and Indiana wanted Dillinger for the OMalley murder. Meanwhile, Wisconsin wanted all four for the Racine bank robbery, boasting that their state prison system was far superior to Indiana and Ohios.
The states began to fight over the prisoners even offering to pay the Tucson authorities higher rewards for the bandits. Wisconsin pledged the highest rewards and local law officials were eager to collect. As for the gang members themselves, they all wanted to go to Wisconsin where they wouldnt be tried for murder. The gang remained calm for the most part until Matt Leach showed up with a witness who positively identified Dillinger as OMalleys murderer. Once fingered, Dillinger grew irritated and paced in his cell like a wild animal. Pierpont on the other hand flew into a cursing rage when he saw Leach because the lawman had once arrested his mother while in pursuit of the gang.
The battle for the legal rights to Dillinger ended when he was hustled into a car and driven out to the Tucson airport. At the airport, Dillinger began a wild struggle to get free from the lawmen. A fortunate newspaper photographer, who was on hand to cover another story at the airport, excitedly took pictures of Dillinger cursing and spitting as the police dragged him to a small aircraft. The opportunistic photographer rushed back to develop his pictures only to find out that he had forgotten to pull the protective plate from the film pack that he had inserted in the camera. He was left with a roll of blank pictures.
Once inside the plane, Dillingers leg was cuffed to a post behind the pilots seat. Dillinger cracked, Hell, I dont jump out of these things. Lake County, Indiana, Prosecutor, Robert Estill flew with Dillinger, first to Douglas, Arizona, where they boarded another plane which took them to El Paso, before heading to Midway Airport in Chicago.
Meanwhile, back in Tucson, even the local law enforcement people were enraged with Indiana State Police Captain Matt Leach as the reward money he issued only came to $300. Since Dillinger had been whisked away, he refused to pay any reward money toward him. One of the Tucson police officers, who had helped in the capture of the bank robbers, seized Leach by the lapels and shouted, Youre everything Pierpont said you were. A double-crossing rat. The remaining gang members, Pierpont, Makley and Clark, were shipped back to Ohio by train where they would be tried for the murder of Sheriff Jess Sarber.
When Dillinger arrived at Midway, the entire Dillinger Squad of the Chicago Police Department greeted him. He turned pale when he met Sergeant Frank Reynolds, the squad member who Dillinger had taunted over the telephone. He was tossed into the backseat of Reynoldss car where he was shackled to two officers. Then a thirteen-car procession, accompanied by a dozen police motorcycles with sirens screaming, headed to Crown Point prison in Indiana. Along the way spectators lined the street to watch the caravan go by.
Dillinger was taken to the office of Lake County Sheriff Lillian Holley. Mrs. Holley, the mother of twin eight-year-old daughters, was serving out the term of her husband, who had been killed in the line of duty. The sheriffs office was jammed with news reporters who treated Dillinger like a celebrity, firing questions at him and laughing at his cocky responses. One reporter noted that Dillingers manner was good natured but a bit condescending as if he were superior to anyone in the room.
Newsreel cameramen where busy taking movies and photographers continued to snap pictures. Soon Dillinger, Estill and Holley were asked to pose together. One photographer shouted for Estill to put his arm around Dillinger, which he did with Dillinger resting his elbow on Estills shoulder. The negative press Estill received from the photograph, which was run in newspapers across the country as well as on newsreels, would one day cost him his chance to become governor of Indiana.