On this day : The 3rd April 1882

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Jesse James is murdered

One of America’s most famous criminals, Jesse James, is shot to death by fellow gang member Bob Ford, who betrayed James for reward money. For 16 years, Jesse and his brother, Frank, committed robberies and murders throughout the Midwest. Detective magazines and pulp novels glamorized the James gang, turning them into mythical Robin Hoods who were driven to crime by unethical landowners and bankers. In reality, Jesse James was a ruthless killer who stole only for himself.

The teenage James brothers joined up with southern guerrilla leaders when the Civil War broke out. Both participated in massacres of settlers and troops affiliated with the North. After the war was over, the quiet farming lifeof the James brothers’ youthno longer seemed enticing, and the two turned to crime. Jesse’s first bank robbery occurred on February 13, 1866, in Liberty, Missouri.

Over the next couple of years, the James brothers became the suspects in several bank robberies throughout western Missouri. However, locals were sympathetic to ex-southern guerrillas and vouched for the brothers. Throughout the late 1860s and early 1870s, the James gang robbed only a couple banks a year, otherwise keeping a low profile.

In 1873, the James ganggot into the train robbery game. During one such robbery, the gang declined to take any money or valuables from southerners. The train robberies brought out the Pinkerton Detective Agency, employed to bring the James gang to justice. However, the Pinkerton operatives’ botched attempt to kill James left a woman and her child injured and elicited public sympathy for Jesse and Frank James.

The James gang suffered a setback in 1876 when they raided the town of Northfield, Minnesota. The Younger brothers, cousins of the James brothers, were shot and wounded during the brazen midday robbery. After running off in a different direction from Jesse and Frank, the Younger brothers were captured by a large posse and later sentenced to life in prison. Jesse and Frank, the only members of the gang to escape successfully, headed to Tennessee to hide out.

After spending a few quiet years farming, Jesse organized a new gang. Charlie and Robert Ford were on the fringe of the new gang, but they disliked Jesse intensely and decided to kill him for the reward money. On April 3, while Jesse’s mother made breakfast, the new gang met to hear Jesse’s plan for the next robbery. When Jesse turned his back to adjust a picture on the wall, Bob Ford shot him several times in the back.

His tombstone reads, “Jesse W. James, Died April 3, 1882, Aged 34 years, 6 months, 28 days, Murdered by a traitor and a coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.”

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On this day : The 16th February 1894

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John Wesley Hardin is pardoned

Infamous gunslinger John Wesley Hardin is pardoned after spending 15 years in a Texas prison for murder. Hardin, who was reputed to have shot and killed a man just for snoring, was 41 years old at the time of his release.

Hardin probably killed in excess of 40 people during a six-year stretch beginning in 1868. When he was only 15, Hardin killed an ex-slave in a fight, becoming a wanted fugitive. Two years later, he was arrested for murder in Waco, Texas. Although it was actually one of the few he had not committed, Hardin did not want to run the risk of being convicted and escaped to the town of Abilene.

At that time, Abilene was run by Wild Bill Hickok, who was friendly with Hardin. However, one night Hardin was disturbed by the snoring in an adjacent hotel room and fired two shots through the wall, killing the man. Fearing that not even Wild Bill would stand for such a senseless crime, Hardin moved on again.

On May 26, 1874, Hardin was celebrating his 21st birthday when he got into an altercation with a man who fired the first shot. Hardin fired back and killed the man. A few years later, Hardin was tracked down in Florida and brought to trial. Because it was one of the more defensible shootings on Hardin’s record, he was spared the gallows and given a life sentence. After his pardon, he moved to El Paso and became an attorney. But his past caught up with him, and the following year he was shot in the back as revenge for one of his many murders

The Biggest Art Heist in History Still Remains Unsolved, 25 Years Later !

John Dillinger

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John Dillinger, in full John Herbert Dillinger (born June 28, 1902, or June 22, 1903,Indianapolis, Ind., U.S.—died July 22, 1934, Chicago, Ill.) most famous of all U.S. bank robbers, whose short career of robberies and escapes from June 1933 to July 1934 won media headlines.

Dillinger was born in Indianapolis but spent his adolescence on a farm in nearby Mooresville. He joined the navy in 1923 and he served on the USS Utah but deserted after only a few months. In September 1924, caught in the foiled holdup of a Mooresville grocer, he served much of the next decade (1924–33) in Indiana state prisons. While in prison he learned the craft of bank robbery from tough professionals. Upon parole on May 22, 1933, he turned his knowledge to profit, taking (with one to four confederates) five Indiana and Ohio banks in four months and gaining his first notoriety as a daring, leaping, sharply dressed gunman.

Early Life and Family
dillinger-early-lifeBorn into a middle-class family on June 22, 1903, in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dillinger experienced tragedy at the age of four when his mother died. Shortly thereafter, his father moved the family to a small farm in Mooresville, Indiana; he soon remarried. Dillinger’s father had several children with his new wife, and Dillinger’s upbringing fell mainly to his older sister. Reportedly, Dillinger disliked his stepmother and endured physical punishment from his harsh father. In 1923, Dillinger joined the Navy but grew tired of it quickly, ultimately deserting. He returned to Indiana and told friends and family that he had been discharged. Shortly after his return, he married 17-year-old Beryl Hovius. He was 21 at the time. The marriage lasted a mere two years.

Introduction to Crime
Following the end of his marriage, Dillinger moved to Indianapolis and met Ed Singleton, a former convict, while working at a grocery store. Young and impressionable, Dillinger was taken under Singleton’s wing and accompanied him as he committed his first heist: a botched grocery store hold-up. After fighting with the owner during the robbery and knocking him unconscious, Dillinger fled the scene, thinking the owner was dead. Upon hearing Dillinger’s gun go off during the brawl, Singleton panicked and drove away with the getaway car, stranding Dillinger. With no legal guidance, Dillinger pled guilty and received a 10-year prison sentence. Singleton, also arrested, received just 5 years. Dillinger used his time in jail to strategize and plan his revenge against the justice system. With one year taken off his sentence for good behavior, he was released on parole in 1933, four years after the start of the Great Depression.
While in jail, Dillinger learned from seasoned bank robbers, preparing for a future in crime. Within a week of leaving prison he assembled a gang and began executing plans to send arms to his friends at Indiana State Prison for escape. However, on the day of the planned prison break, September 22, 1933, police, on a tip, raided the old house where Dillinger and his newly choreographed gang had set up residence. Dillinger was arrested again. He was immediately transferred to Allen County Jail in Lima, Ohio. The arrest only proved Dillinger’s loyalty to his friends and they were quick to return the favor. Dressed as police officers, Dillinger’s cronies snuck into the jail and broke him out.

John Dillinger

Bank Robberies
All told, Dillinger racked up more than $300,000 throughout his bank-robbing career. Among the banks he robbed were:

  • July 17, 1933 – Commercial Bank in Daleville, Indiana – $3,500
  • August 4, 1933 – Montpelier National Bank in Montpelier, Indiana – $6,700
  • August 14, 1933 – Bluffton Bank in Bluffton, Ohio – $6,000
  • September 6, 1933 – Massachusetts Avenue State Bank in Indianapolis, Indiana – $21,000
  • October, 23, 1933 – Central Nation Bank and Trust Co. in Greencastle, Indiana – $76,000
  • November 20, 1933 – American Bank and Trust Co. in Racine, Wisconsin – $28,000
  • December 13, 1933 – Unity Trust and Savings Bank in Chicago, Illinois – $8,700
  • January, 15, 1934 – First National Bank in East Chicago, Indiana – $20,000
  • March 6, 1934 – Securities National Bank and Trust Co. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota – $49,500
  • March 13, 1934 – First National Bank in Mason City, Iowa – $52,000
  • June 30, 1934 – Merchants National Bank in South Bend, Indiana – $29,890

The East Chicago robbery on January 15, 1934 is particularly noteworthy. It was at this heist that Dillinger shot a police officer, thereby adding murder to his growing list of charges.

Jail Time
Shortly after the East Chicago robbery, a fire broke out in the hotel where Dillinger and his friends were staying in Tucson, Arizona. Tipped off again, police found and arrested Dillinger. Allowing no room for error this round, the police had him carefully secured and sent to Indiana by aircraft, where he could be tried for murder (he was only guilty of theft in Arizona). He arrived at Chicago’s municipal airport on January 23, 1934, where he was greeted by throngs of reporters eager to spread word of the infamous criminal’s capture. At this point in time, Dillinger was already a public sensation, due to the media frenzy surrounding him. Authorities placed Dillinger under high security at the jail in Crown Point, Indiana, and treated him as though he had all due intent to try another escape. However, as things settled down, the armed patrol guards on the streets surrounding the prison were dismissed, and indoor guards became more lax. Despite having six armed guards between his cell and the outside world, the leniency of prison regulations permitted Dillinger to spend hours in his cell carving a fake gun out of an old piece of washboard using just a few razor-blades. A replica of his creation is on display in the museum. Dillinger used this gun to escape by taking one hostage and forcing him “at gunpoint” to lead him out of the prison. Dillinger then managed to hijack a car from a nearby alley, and before the prison knew what had happened, Dillinger was on the road again with two hostages in tow. It was then that Dillinger made the fatal mistake of crossing state borders in a stolen car, bringing his crimes under FBI jurisdiction.

Escape at Little Bohemia Lodge
At the time of Dillinger’s escape, J. Edgar Hoover was working on implementing a more credible, reformed FBI and developing a new strategy of assigning “special agents” to cases. Hoover appointed a special squad, led by Agent Melvin Purvis, specifically to track down John Dillinger. Constantly on the move after his escape, Dillinger drove across the Midwest trying to avoid the FBI. Along the way, Dillinger teamed up with his old girlfriend, Billie Frechette. After several close calls with the cops and losing Frechette, Dillinger set up camp at Little Bohemia Lodge, just outside the remote town of Mercer, Wisconsin, hiding out with a cadre of criminals, including “Babyface” Nelson, Homer Van Meter, and Tommy Carroll. Alerted by concerned residents and the inn’s owners, the FBI swarmed the house, but again, Dillinger managed to slip away. At this point, Dillinger concluded that he had simply become too recognizable. Seeking a better disguise, he decided to undergo major plastic surgery. It was at this time that he was christened with the nickname “Snake Eyes.” The surgery was able to change everything except his devious eyes.

Death John Dillinger
Following Dillinger’s last staged bank robbery in South Bend, Indiana, where he killed another policeman, Hoover made the unprecedented step of placing a $10,000 reward on Dillinger’s head. About a month after the announcement, a friend of Dillinger’s, an illegal immigrant working at a brothel under the stage name Ana Sage, tipped off the police. She was under the impression that the FBI would prevent her from deportation if she helped them. Sage told officials that Dillinger planned to attend a film at the Biograph Theater in Chicago. Armed agents waited outside of the theater waiting for Ana’s signal (a red dress).

“Dillinger gave one hunted look about him, and attempted to run up an alley, where several of my men were waiting. As he ran, he drew an automatic pistol from his pocket, although I have always been told that he carried his weapons in his waist band.”

“As his hand came up with the gun in it, several shots were fired by my men, before he could fire. He dropped, fatally wounded. I had hoped to take him alive, but I was afraid that he would resist to the last.

Hit Three Times.

Dillinger was shot through the back of the neck, the bullet coming out just under the right eye, another bullet crashed through his left breast. The latter would not have killed him, the bullet through the neck being fatal.

A third bullet was found in the left breast, it had passed through the tip of the heart. The breast wounds were two inches apart.”

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Betty and Rosella Nelson, sisters and entertainers in Chicago, view the body of the notorious criminal John Dillinger in the morgue.

 

At the Cook County Morgue, attempts were made to identify Dillinger by his fingerprints, but the ends of his fingers were scarred, apparently having been treated with acid. Purvis had definitely identified him, before the body was taken to the morgue.

Examination at the morgue disclosed a recent wound in Dillinger’s chest about two inches long, which had just healed, and it was believed he had received it in a recent bank robbery raid. Purvis said his last known raid was the robbery of the Peoples Trust and Savings Bank at South Bend.

Dillinger’s hair was died coal black and cut very short. His eyebrows appeared to have been plucked to a fine line. He had a small black mustache.

Hundreds of spectators crowded, pushed and jostled after the bleeding body of the outlaw was removed.

Souvenir hunters madly dipped newspapers in the blood that stained the pavement. Handkerchiefs were whipped out and used to mop up the blood.

John Dillinger wanted poster.

John Dillinger wanted poster.

Traffic soon became so jammed that street cars were re-routed, police lines established and traffic blocked out of the area.

Frustrated souvenir hunters hurried to the county morgue, police estimated 2,000 persons rushed to the morgue for a view of the body, and shouted and fought with police to gain entrance. Stringent lines were drawn there also.

Dillinger did not have a chance to get away.

“Every back door both ways down the street was watched,” the Federal chief said.

Two agents were across the street in a restaurant; two were in a garage two doors from the theatre, and two on the sidewalk, in front of the theatre.

AN UNDATED FILE PHOTO

In this undated file photo, John Dillinger is seen.

 

On this day : The 2nd August 1876

Wild Bill Hickok is murdered

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“Wild Bill” Hickok, one of the greatest gunfighters of the American West, is murdered in Deadwood, South Dakota.

Born in Illinois in 1837, James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok first gained notoriety as a gunfighter in 1861 when he coolly shot three men who were trying to kill him. A highly sensationalized account of the gunfight appeared six years later in the popular periodical Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, sparking Hickok’s rise to national fame. Other articles and books followed, and though his prowess was often exaggerated, Hickok did earn his reputation with a string of impressive gunfights.

After accidentally killing his deputy during an 1871 shootout in Abilene, Texas, Hickok never fought another gun battle. For the next several years he lived off his famous reputation, appearing as himself in Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show. Occasionally, he worked as guide for wealthy hunters. His renowned eyesight began to fail, and for a time he was reduced to wandering the West trying to make a living as a gambler. Several times he was arrested for vagrancy.

In the spring of 1876, Hickok arrived in the Black Hills mining town of Deadwood, South Dakota. There he became a regular at the poker tables of the No. 10 Saloon, eking out a meager existence as a card player. On this day in 1876, Hickok was playing cards with his back to the saloon door. At 4:15 in the afternoon, a young gunslinger named Jack McCall walked into the saloon, approached Hickok from behind, and shot him in the back of the head. Hickok died immediately. McCall tried to shoot others in the crowd, but amazingly, all of the remaining cartridges in his pistol were duds. McCall was later tried, convicted, and hanged.

Hickok was only 39 years old when he died. The most famous gunfighter in the history of the West died with his Smith & Wesson revolver in his holster, never having seen his murderer. According to legend, Hickok held a pair of black aces and black eights when he died, a combination that has since been known as the Dead Man’s Hand.

On this day : The 13th April 1866

Butch Cassidy is born

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Born Robert Leroy Parker, he was the son of Mormon parents who had answered Brigham Young’s call for young couples to help build communities of Latter Day Saints on the Utah frontier. Cassidy was the first of 13 children born to Max and Annie Parker.

When Cassidy was 13 years old, the family moved to a ranch near the small Mormon community of Circleville. He became an admirer of a local ruffian named Mike Cassidy, who taught him how to shoot and gave him a gun and saddle. With Cassidy’s encouragement, the young man apparently began rustling, eventually forcing him to leave home during his mid-teens under a cloud of suspicion.

For several years, he drifted around the West using the name Roy Parker. Finally, on June 24, 1889, he committed his first serious crime, robbing a bank in Telluride, Colorado, for more than $20,000. As a fugitive, he took to calling himself George Cassidy, a nod to his first partner in crime back in Utah. Wishing to lay low, for a time he worked in a Rock Springs, Wyoming, butcher shop, earning the nickname that would complete one of the most famous criminal aliases in history, “Butch” Cassidy.

In 1894, Butch Cassidy was arrested for horse theft in Wyoming. After serving two years in the Wyoming Territorial Prison at Laramie, Cassidy was pardoned. He immediately returned to a life of crime, this time gathering around him a local band of carousing outlaws that became known as the Wild Bunch. Cassidy’s most famous partner was Harry Longbaugh, better known as the “Sundance Kid.” Other members included the quick-to-kill Harvey Logan (“Kid Curry”), Ben Kilpatrick (“Tall Texan”), Harry Tracy, Deaf Charley Hanks, and Tom Ketchum (“BlackJack”).

By 1897, Cassidy was solidly in control of a sophisticated criminal operation that was active in states and territories from South Dakota to New Mexico. The Wild Bunch specialized in holding up railroad express cars, and the gang was sometimes called the Train Robbers’ Syndicate. Between robberies, Cassidy rendezvoused with various lovers around the West and took his gang on unruly vacations to Denver, San Antonio, and Fort Worth.

By the turn of the century, however, the wild days of the West were rapidly fading. Once deserted lands were being tamed and settled, and western states and territories were creating an increasingly effective law-enforcement network. Tired of his robberies, railroad executives hired detectives to catch Cassidy and began placing mounted guards in railcars to pursue the Wild Bunch. In 1901, Cassidy fled the U.S. for Argentina accompanied by his lover, Etta Place, and the Sundance Kid.

The trio homesteaded a ranch at Cholila, though Place returned to the United States after several years. In 1904, Cassidy and Sundance learned that detectives had tracked them to South America. They abandoned the Cholila ranch and resumed a life of robbery in Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia. Though there is no evidence definitely to confirm it, Bolivian troops reportedly killed the partners in the village of San Vicente in 1908. The families of both men insist, however, that the men survived and returned to live into old age in the United States.

Cherokee Bill

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Born Crawford Goldsby, Cherokee Bill was a 19th century outlaw who was known to have a quick trigger finger. He and his gang terrorized the Indian Territory for over two years before he was hanged on March 17, 1896 at the age of 20. His crime spree began when he was just 18 years old after shooting Jake Lewis for beating up his younger brother. He joined with outlaws Jim and Bill Cook and began terrorizing Oklahoma until his apprehension.

Probably the most famous outlaw that was hanged on the Fort Smith gallows was Crawford Goldsby, alias Cherokee Bill. He was born on February 8, 1876 at Fort Concho, Texas, the son of George Goldsby, a buffalo soldier of Mexican, white and Sioux descent, and a woman named Ellen Beck, half black, one-fourth Cherokee and one-fourth white. When George Goldsby abandoned his pregnant wife and son two years later, Ellen returned to Fort Gibson and sent Crawford to Indian Schools in Kansas and Pennsylvania. When he returned, he worked odd jobs until his first run in with the law in the summer of 1893 at age 17.

On September 29, Goldsby attended a harvest dance at Fort Gibson to see Maggie Glass, a pretty 15 year old girl with whom he was infatuated. While there, he got into a fight with Jake Lewis and was easily overpowered by the man. The next morning, Goldsby appeared at Lewis’ farm with the intention of killing him for the embarrassment in front of Maggie. Although Lewis suffered two gunshot wounds, he lived to file charges against Goldsby.

By this time, Goldsby had adopted the nickname of Cherokee Bill. Apparently the name derived from his Cherokee heritage and his attendance at the Indian School at Cherokee, Kansas. In the Cherokee country the name “Bill” meant “wild hand,” not a person to run counter to.

After the assault on Jake Lewis, Cherokee Bill began riding with the Cook Gang. Led by Bill Cook, this group of outlaws terrorized the Cherokee and Creek Nations during 1893 and 1894. Their crimes started off small with whiskey charges and stealing horses, but soon led to train robberies, stage holdups, and bank theft. On July 31, 1894, the gang stole $500 from the Lincoln County bank in Chandler, Oklahoma. On September 21, the J.A. Parkinson & Company store in Okmulgee lost over $600 to them. On October 10 “the record of bold and desperate deeds” was broken when the gang held up and robbed the depot of the Missouri Pacific Railroad at Claremore. Less than 2 hours later, they robbed the railroad agent at Chouteau. Ten days later it was the wrecking and robbing of the Kansas City and Missouri Pacific express five miles south of Wagoner.

On November 9, Cherokee Bill and two other gang members held up a store and post office fifteen miles south of Coffeyville, Kansas. Cherokee Bill shot and killed a painter named Ernest Melton who was watching the heist from a window of a restaurant across the street. “The ball struck Melton below one eye and came out the back of his head, killing him instantly.”

It was this crime that Cherokee Bill would hang for in Fort Smith, but the road to the gallows had several more twists and turns for the law enforcement officials in Fort Smith.

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Hanging

The second trial lasted three days, resulting in a guilty verdict and U.S. District Judge Isaac Parker sentenced Goldsby to be hanged on September 10, 1895. A stay was granted, pending an appeal to the Supreme Court. On December 2, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Fort Smith court and Judge Parker again set the execution date as March 17, 1896.

On the morning of March 17, Goldsby awoke at six to have a smoke break. He ate a light breakfast sent from the hotel by his mother. At 9:20, his mother and “Aunty” Amanda Foster were admitted to his cell and shortly afterwards Father Pius arrived.

The hanging was scheduled for 11 am, but was delayed until 2 pm so his sister Georgia could see him before the hanging. She was scheduled to arrive at 1 pm on the eastbound train.

Shortly after 2 pm while on the gallows, it was reported Goldsby was asked if he had anything to say and he replied, “I came here to die, not make a speech.” About 12 minutes later, Crawford “Cherokee Bill” Goldsby, the most notorious outlaw in the Territory, was dead.

The body was placed in a coffin, which was placed in a box and taken to the Missouri Pacific depot. Placed aboard the train, Ellen and Georgia escorted the body to to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, for interment at the Cherokee National Cemetery

On April 20, 1897, Ike “Robinson” {Rogers}, who was reported to have been involved in the capture of Cherokee Bill, was shot and killed by Clarence Goldsby at Ft Gibson Oklahoma