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Dillinger Autopsy Questions- Did They Shoot the Right Man?

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  • Dillinger Autopsy Questions- Did They Shoot the Right Man?

    Hi, I recently read several interesting articles about 30's bank robber John Dillinger and the theory that it was not him but a "double" who was shot outside the Biograph Theater.

    Many people who saw the body commented that it did not look like Dillinger. The autopsy disappeared immediately and was "lost" for 50 years, which increased suspicion that something was fishy. When it was finally discovered, it raised serious questions about the victim's identity.

    The real Dillinger was an extremely athletic man who had been in the Navy, played semi-professional Baseball, famously leaped over desks and walls like Douglas Fairbanks while committing robberies, and made many daring escapes. Dillinger had light gray-blue eyes described as "steel-gray."
    Dillinger was also missing a tooth, as is apparent in the video where he laughs.

    The body that was autopsied had brown eyes and a serious chronic condition of the heart caused by Rheumatic Fever, apparently occurring in childhood; it had a hypertrophic myocardium as well. Apparently these heart conditions do not accord with Dillinger's obvious athletic prowess.
    The body autopsied also had a full set of natural teeth, not capped, whereas photos of Dillinger clearly show a missing incisor.

    Dillinger underwent an early form of plastic surgery in an effort to change his appearance because his face was so well known. He supposedly had the distinctive cleft removed from his chin, but the surgery failed to significantly change his appearance. Dillinger also had his finger tips burned with acid in an effort to remove his prints. The body that was autopsied has a cleft chin but other than that it doesn't look much like Dillinger- who supposedly had his cleft chin changed anyway.

    An author in the 70's claimed that it wasn't really Dillinger who died; he said he had proof. (I haven't read his book; maybe others have.)

    The theory is that the man who was shot was a small-time crook named Jimmy Lawrence, which was in fact the name the man was using. He was working as a clerk at the time. It's hard to picture Dillinger doing so, and in Chicago of all places- Dillinger had plenty of money and a huge ego, so why get a menial job as a clerk and expose his well-known face in public? Why choose to do so in a city famous for gangsters and crawling with cops and FBI agents?
    This man Jimmy Lawrence frequently took his girlfriend Polly out dancing, which also seems foolish if he was Dillinger.

    The theory is that Dillinger set up Lawrence, the FBI fell for it, and they shot Lawrence as he left the theater. Because of all the publicity, the FBI had to permanently cover up the fact that they shot an innocent man. (There are various conjectures as to where "the real" Dillinger lived out the rest of his life.)

    The autopsy photos don't look like Dillinger, but it was very hot summer weather and he was shot in the head, so swelling is to be expected. The FBI offered this as the reason when people pointed out that the dead man didn't look like Dillinger.

    Some claim that light-colored eyes can turn brown shortly after death, but I'm not sure I believe this. Gray-blue is a very light eye color. I can see hazel eyes turning brownish after death, but it seems to me that they would have checked the man's eyes immediately after shooting him, if only to be sure he was really dead. In fact, he might have died with his eyes open, so if anyone ever saw them looking gray, why didn't they mention it?

    But it seems to me that his face is different, his bone structure is different, his lips and eyebrows are different, and his hairline is different too. The dead man had a prominent widow's peak in his hairline (most apparent in the post-embalming photo, where the center-point of his hairline comes noticeably forward) but Dillinger had the opposite- his hairline receded a bit at the very center of his forehead, and came slightly forward on either side of the receding center point.

    Dillinger's father and sister were brought to the morgue to identify him, and at first denied that it was Dillinger; later they said it was him. The theory is that they were tipped off that Dillinger wanted the FBI to believe he was dead so he could avoid pursuit.

    >>What's especially strange is that Dillinger's father, a man with no money, suddenly had a great deal of money to spend on hiring construction equipment & burying his son in a massive quantity of cement- so much cement that the body can never be exhumed and re-examined. Where did the money to do this come from?

    I'm not sure what the truth is, but the autopsy doesn't state that the doctors found plastic surgery scars (though there are scars on the jaw which may be from that), nor does it seem to mention the acid-burned fingertips. A young medical resident at the hospital (I believe in his first year) performed the autopsy, not Kearns as is usually claimed.

    Dillinger's plastic surgeon committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window when he was in police custody after Dillinger was supposed to be dead- why? His female assistant tried to do the same thing, but survived with serious injuries. What was their reason for such desperation? Were they afraid of retribution against their families if they "talked"?

    Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent celebrated for killing America's Public Enemy #1, Dillinger, died by committing suicide....Why?

    I don't what the truth is, but the questions raised are pretty interesting. Here are several articles & videos for those of you who are curious.

    Article with videos: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?sec...eam&id=6883096

    'Weird Indiana' website: http://www.prairieghosts.com/dillinger.html

    Article with reply by owner of Dillinger's Death Mask: http://symonsez.wordpress.com/2008/0...-by-the-g-men/

    Photos: Dillinger Photo & 'Jimmy Lawrence' Morgue Photo (before autopsy & embalming, so before the face had swelled badly.)

    I'd enjoy hearing your take on this subject.
    Best regards, Archaic
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Archaic; 01-03-2010, 02:39 AM.

  • #2
    Hey Arch,

    Looks like Dillenger to me.

    His crimes have always facinated me. I usualy only work with serial killings and very violent murders(eg. the Black daliah) but his story and death is so facinating. I wouldnt think that dillenger got away.

    I would think that if Dillenger didnt get shot in front of that theater he would continue his robberys, without Babyface even.
    Washington Irving:

    "To a homeless man, who has no spot on this wide world which he can truly call his own, there is a momentary feeling of something like independence and territorial consequence, when, after a weary day's travel, he kicks off his boots, thrusts his feet into slippers, and stretches himself before an inn fire. Let the world without go as it may; let kingdoms rise and fall, so long as he has the wherewithal to pay his bills, he is, for the time being, the very monarch of all he surveys. The arm chair in his throne; the poker his sceptre, and the little parlour of some twelve feet square, his undisputed empire. "

    Stratford-on-Avon

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi, Corey. It may very well be Dillinger's bodies, but the discrepancies, the suicides, and the costly burial in tons of cement & metal do raise questions.

      It's hard to know whether Dillinger would ever stop robbing banks, but he should have had plenty of money to live like a king. Most of his friends and fellow gang members had met horrible ends, and he had often talked of moving to South America or even to a remote Indian Reservation; maybe he was tired of life on the run?

      If Dillinger did get away, I would expect an enraged Hoover to still go after him, but not to publicize it because then the FBI would be accused of shooting an innocent man without giving him a chance to be charged and face trial. Maybe they caught the real Dillinger later, who knows? One theory is that Melvin Purvis committed suicide because he finally got proof that he had shot down an innocent man in Chicago...the story is that he received confirmation that Dillinger was still alive. I don't know if that's true or not.

      I'm interested in seeing a photo-comparison of the ears, because they wouldn't have been altered by surgery or undergone such terrible swelling as the face did.

      Here's a website with lots of photos & additional links on girlfriend Billy Frechette & Dillinger's Gang:
      http://jhdillinger.fortunecity.com/funeral.html

      And here's a photo of one of the notorious Dillinger Death Masks.

      Best regards, Archaic
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • #4
        The pouring of concrete on the body was done at the town's request due to the high rate of souvenir hunters. There were reports of people dipping handkerchiefs into his blood as he lay dying on the street and someone had offered to buy the body for a carnival exhibit.

        I don't think it was really to discourage identification down the line. Once the corpse had rotted there was no way of proving it back then anyway and it's not like they would have thought "in a hundred years someone can dig it up and DNA will prove it's not him".

        The concrete pouring isn't that mysterious or suspicious.

        Let all Oz be agreed;
        I'm Wicked through and through.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Archaic View Post
          Hi, I recently read several interesting articles about 30's bank robber John Dillinger and the theory that it was not him but a "double" who was shot outside the Biograph Theater.

          Many people who saw the body commented that it did not look like Dillinger. The autopsy disappeared immediately and was "lost" for 50 years, which increased suspicion that something was fishy. When it was finally discovered, it raised serious questions about the victim's identity.

          The real Dillinger was an extremely athletic man who had been in the Navy, played semi-professional Baseball, famously leaped over desks and walls like Douglas Fairbanks while committing robberies, and made many daring escapes. Dillinger had light gray-blue eyes described as "steel-gray."
          Dillinger was also missing a tooth, as is apparent in the video where he laughs.

          The body that was autopsied had brown eyes and a serious chronic condition of the heart caused by Rheumatic Fever, apparently occurring in childhood; it had a hypertrophic myocardium as well. Apparently these heart conditions do not accord with Dillinger's obvious athletic prowess.
          The body autopsied also had a full set of natural teeth, not capped, whereas photos of Dillinger clearly show a missing incisor.

          Dillinger underwent an early form of plastic surgery in an effort to change his appearance because his face was so well known. He supposedly had the distinctive cleft removed from his chin, but the surgery failed to significantly change his appearance. Dillinger also had his finger tips burned with acid in an effort to remove his prints. The body that was autopsied has a cleft chin but other than that it doesn't look much like Dillinger- who supposedly had his cleft chin changed anyway.

          An author in the 70's claimed that it wasn't really Dillinger who died; he said he had proof. (I haven't read his book; maybe others have.)

          The theory is that the man who was shot was a small-time crook named Jimmy Lawrence, which was in fact the name the man was using. He was working as a clerk at the time. It's hard to picture Dillinger doing so, and in Chicago of all places- Dillinger had plenty of money and a huge ego, so why get a menial job as a clerk and expose his well-known face in public? Why choose to do so in a city famous for gangsters and crawling with cops and FBI agents?
          This man Jimmy Lawrence frequently took his girlfriend Polly out dancing, which also seems foolish if he was Dillinger.

          The theory is that Dillinger set up Lawrence, the FBI fell for it, and they shot Lawrence as he left the theater. Because of all the publicity, the FBI had to permanently cover up the fact that they shot an innocent man. (There are various conjectures as to where "the real" Dillinger lived out the rest of his life.)

          The autopsy photos don't look like Dillinger, but it was very hot summer weather and he was shot in the head, so swelling is to be expected. The FBI offered this as the reason when people pointed out that the dead man didn't look like Dillinger.

          Some claim that light-colored eyes can turn brown shortly after death, but I'm not sure I believe this. Gray-blue is a very light eye color. I can see hazel eyes turning brownish after death, but it seems to me that they would have checked the man's eyes immediately after shooting him, if only to be sure he was really dead. In fact, he might have died with his eyes open, so if anyone ever saw them looking gray, why didn't they mention it?

          But it seems to me that his face is different, his bone structure is different, his lips and eyebrows are different, and his hairline is different too. The dead man had a prominent widow's peak in his hairline (most apparent in the post-embalming photo, where the center-point of his hairline comes noticeably forward) but Dillinger had the opposite- his hairline receded a bit at the very center of his forehead, and came slightly forward on either side of the receding center point.

          Dillinger's father and sister were brought to the morgue to identify him, and at first denied that it was Dillinger; later they said it was him. The theory is that they were tipped off that Dillinger wanted the FBI to believe he was dead so he could avoid pursuit.

          >>What's especially strange is that Dillinger's father, a man with no money, suddenly had a great deal of money to spend on hiring construction equipment & burying his son in a massive quantity of cement- so much cement that the body can never be exhumed and re-examined. Where did the money to do this come from?

          I'm not sure what the truth is, but the autopsy doesn't state that the doctors found plastic surgery scars (though there are scars on the jaw which may be from that), nor does it seem to mention the acid-burned fingertips. A young medical resident at the hospital (I believe in his first year) performed the autopsy, not Kearns as is usually claimed.

          Dillinger's plastic surgeon committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window when he was in police custody after Dillinger was supposed to be dead- why? His female assistant tried to do the same thing, but survived with serious injuries. What was their reason for such desperation? Were they afraid of retribution against their families if they "talked"?

          Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent celebrated for killing America's Public Enemy #1, Dillinger, died by committing suicide....Why?

          I don't what the truth is, but the questions raised are pretty interesting. Here are several articles & videos for those of you who are curious.

          Article with videos: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?sec...eam&id=6883096

          'Weird Indiana' website: http://www.prairieghosts.com/dillinger.html

          Article with reply by owner of Dillinger's Death Mask: http://symonsez.wordpress.com/2008/0...-by-the-g-men/

          Photos: Dillinger Photo & 'Jimmy Lawrence' Morgue Photo (before autopsy & embalming, so before the face had swelled badly.)

          I'd enjoy hearing your take on this subject.
          Best regards, Archaic
          The Dillinger survival theory is nonsense and has been discredited time after time by all serious Dillinger researchers. The details of Dillinger's betrayal and ambush are all laid out in the FBI's extensive files on the Dillinger case (not available to researchers when Jay Robert Nash published his controversial book in 1970) and moreover three different sets of postmortem fingerprints were taken of the dead man. While scarred by acid the prints were easily identifiable as those of John Dillinger.

          Nash's books contain so many errors and outright fictions that he is not generally held in high regard by many American crime historians.

          "Jimmy Lawrence" was simply an alias of Dillinger's. He did not work at any time as a clerk but did tell people he worked for the Chicago Board of Trade. Dillinger did take Polly Hamilton out dancing and also to Cubs ball games and movies but this sort of bravado typified his entire brief 14-month career as a bank robber. He typically engaged in "hiding in plain sight." The previous year Dillinger had attended the World's Fair in Chicago with an earlier girlfriend, Mary Longnaker, where he delighted in taking pictures of unsuspecting police officers he asked to pose for. At the time of his death Dillinger had recently undergone plastic surgery and while it did not dramatically alter his features he may have been a little overconfident with his "new face." (If you look at some of the other morgue photos of Dillinger you can still see the resemblance, including Dillinger head shape and the widow's peak hairline.) It's worth noting too that Dillinger allegedly had contacts within the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County State's Attorney's office. At the time of his death he was also planning one last job, a train robbery, after which he intended to flee to Mexico.

          Dillinger had served in the Navy (in 1923, eleven years before his death, and the medical condition may not have existed then; I'm also inclined to think that U.S. Navy physical exams were perhaps less rigorous then than now), had played baseball, and was noted for his especially athletic stunts, such as leaping over bank teller's cages during some of his early robberies (he gave that stunt up after a short time when some of his accomplices ridiculed it as unprofessional behavior). But he did have a rheumatic heart condition. This was confirmed by Dr. Patrick Weeks, the prison doctor at the Indiana State Penitentiary in Michigan City, who had treated Dillinger during his incarceration there. I'm no doctor but I've known people who were rheumatic and still managed to have active and even athletic lifestyles. None of them robbed banks, of course, but at least one other notorious outlaw who was contemporary with Dillinger was diagnosed as a teenager with a bad heart. This was Alvin Karpis, who lived a life similar to Dillinger's and survived not only five years on the run but 33 years in federal prisons, 25 of them in Alcatraz, and lived until 1979 when he died in Spain, supposedly of a drug overdose.

          None of the morgue photos I've seen of Dillinger's corpse show his teeth and I don't recall now if there's any mention of the missing tooth in the autopsy report. I'll have to check on that. The missing tooth is evident in newsreel film footage of Dillinger laughing in the Crown Point jail during his brief stay there. It has been reported that Dillinger sometimes wore a temporary filling to replace the missing tooth.

          Again, I'm no doctor but different medical opinions I've heard expressed by people who are qualified have been to the effect that eye color can be affected/darkened by such things as a traumatic head wound (a .45 ACP slug from Special Agent Charles Winstead's automatic entered the base of Dillinger's skull, passed through his brain, and exited below his right eye) or by exposure to heat (Dillinger's body was displayed for the public for hours in an unrefrigerated room at the Cook County Morgue during one of the hottest nights in a record-breaking Midwestern summer; don't recall for sure but I believe something like 23 people died of heat exposure in Chicago on July 22, 1934). So Dillinger's grey eyes might possibly have appeared brown and simply been erroneously recorded.

          The fledgling agents of what would become the FBI (known until 1935 as the Division of Investigation) were real novices as detectives at the time. Most were young lawyers with little real law enforcement experience. Until the Lindbergh kidnapping in 1932 they been generally just investigators and mostly of white-collar criminals and car thieves who happened to drive across a state line. They'd had little real experience in dealing with violent criminals such as gangsters and bank robbers and were learning along the way. They'd only recently acquired the legal authority to carry firearms at all times and to make arrests without the assistance of local police. But there would have been no thoughts along the lines of looking at the dead man's eyes at the time, or of preserving the integrity of the shooting scene, etc., or of anything much beyond picking up Dillinger's gun, explaining things to the just arriving Chicago police, and trying to maintain some form of crowd control as people flocked into the alley.

          Dillinger's father feared the corpse would be stolen. John Sr. had received several offers from carnival operators, etc. for his son's body. Though doubtless affected by the Depression, John Sr. was not impoverished either. He had been relatively well off before moving to Mooresville. He bought his farm with proceeds from the sale of his grocery store and four houses in Indianapolis. The Dillinger family had also received money, and new cars, from Dillinger during his time as a fugitive.

          Melvin Purvis may or may not have committed suicide. According to his son Alston, in fairly convincing revelations in his recent book Vendetta, the self-induced shooting was accidental.

          Rick Mattix (coauthor of The Complete Public Enemy Almanac and expanded edition of Dillinger: The Untold Story)
          Last edited by Rick Mattix; 01-03-2010, 01:22 PM.

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