Tales from the Morgue replay: Dillinger captured in Tucson

2014-01-22T08:15:00Z 2014-01-23T09:14:07Z Tales from the Morgue replay: Dillinger captured in TucsonElaine Raines Arizona Daily Star
January 22, 2014 8:15 am  • 

This is a favorite of "Tales from the Morgue" readers that ran when StarNet's first "Morgue Lady," Elaine Raines, wrote this blog.

The following article ran in the Arizona Daily Star 78 years ago today, on Jan. 26, 1934. This blog entry originally ran in Tales from the Morgue July 1, 2009.

 

DILLINGER GANG CAPTURED HERE

POLICE FORCED TO USE GUNS IN NABBING TWO GANGSTERS OTHERS SUBMIT TO OFFICERS

Triggerman Pulls Gun On Chief In City Lockup

IDENTITY IS SURE

Men Are Wanted In East For Murders, Bank Robberies

By Fred Finney

John Dillinger and three members of the “Dillinger mob” bank robbery artist, jail delivery specialists and machine gun terrorists supreme in the Midwest, were captured here yesterday afternoon and evening by Tucson police.

In a series of breath-taking captures, each of which might have at any moment culminated in a stream of lead and death, which included lightning displays of gangster armament and as sudden squashing of murderous hopes by officers, Dillinger himself, Charley Makley, 50, Russell Clark, 39, and Harry Pierpont, 31, the “trigger-man” of the gang were apprehended, were stripped of a young arsenal apiece, subdued, identified, and locked up in the county jail for safe-keeping.

The jail was under double guard last night.

The four are being held under fugitive warrants and, in addition, charges of assault with deadly weapons were preferred by the county attorney, Clarence Houston, against Clark and Pierpont. All will be arraigned at 9:30 this morning in justice court before Judge C. V. Budlong.

Dillinger, Pierpont, Clark and Makley, sought throughout the country for months, are wanted for the murder of Sheriff Jess Sarber, of Lima, Ohio, following their jailbreak last October 12. At the time of the jailbreak and murder of the Ohio sheriff, Dillinger, Pierpont, Clark, and Makley were being held, charged with the robbery of the Blufton, Ohio, bank of $2800. Sheriff Sarber’s widow has named “Pierpont, Dillinger mob “triggerman,” as the murder. In addition, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin banks charge the quartet with robberies aggregating more than $154,000 gained from recent sensational bank holdups. 

Women Also Held

Three Women companions were also arrested and held as material witnesses. These are Ann Martin, Dillinger’s companion, Mary Kinder, nabbed with Pierpont, and Opal or Bernice Long, arrested with Clark. A fourth woman, said to be the companion of Makley was released when it was learned that she was an entertainer in a local cabaret and had no connection with the gangsters prior to their arrival here a few days ago. The Kinder woman said to be wanted by Chicago City, Ind., in connection with murder charges there.

After three members of his mob had been arrested yesterday afternoon, Dillinger, one of the most sought-for criminals in the United States, walked into the arms of three waiting traffic officers at 927 North Second avenue, totally ignorant of the arrest of his men. The three traffic officers, who throughout the afternoon, had been specializing in the arrest of notorious eastern gangsters, were on watch at the house occupied by Makley and Clark “just in case.”

Sneering at the effrontery of the “small-time cops” who had nabbed them, Dillinger, Pierpont, Clark and Makley were taken to police headquarters, stripped of numerous hand guns, five sub-machine guns, enough ammunition to run three Mexican revolutions, and a half dozen bullet-proof vests of the latest design. Of the four only Makley was unarmed at the time of his arrest.

Photographs and fingerprint identifications were fixed positively by a U.S. department of justice agent and Mark Robbins local identification expert. Search of the four men and three women held disclosed nearly $27,000 in currency, serial numbers of which were noted by C. J. Endres, U.S. operative, sent here from Phoenix on order of J. Edgar Hoover at Washington for further check against currency losses of the mid-western banks.

When booked at the police station, Makley, first in the series of arrests, gave the name of J. C. Davies, and his business as a “garageman.” Clark gave the name of Art Taylor, business tailor. Pierpont, the “trigger-man” gave the name of J.C. Evans, “tourist.”

The identification of Dillinger came as a surprise to the police. The officers had booked him as Frank Sullivan of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Letters and automobile certificate of ownership taken from his pockets were in the name of Frank Sullivan.

Identified

As Frank Sullivan he was taken to the fingerprint room to be searched, photographed and fingerprinted. After being fingerprinted and as the man was dressing, Robins started classifying the prints. This done, he turned to the police files of the Dillinger gang. As he came to the picture of John Dillinger he looked up and compared the picture with the man in the room. “This is Dillinger,” he remarked quietly.

Then to be positive he looked for a scar on the left wrist and another on the upper lip. Both scars were there on the man the police had booked as Frank Sullivan, although Dillinger had the scar on the lip hidden by a mustache. In addition he was wearing glasses.

When Dillinger was finished dressing Officer Evan picked up the glasses and started to hand them to him. “You can have them,” Dillinger said quietly.

“What, you don’t need them?” Eyman said.

Dillinger smiled in answer.

The series of apprehensions dates from the Congress hotel fire of last  Monday. Registered in the hotel, Makley and Clark were the first men to obtain aid in having their baggage removed. It came down the aerial ladder truck from the Tenth street side of the hotel. Firemen William Benedict and Robert Freeman affecting the rescue. Makley or Clark presented the firemen with $12 as a token of appreciation, and were remembered for their anxiety.

The next afternoon, while reading a recent issue of a detective magazine. Benedict and Freeman recognized the picture of Clark and Makley, and later checked this with records of wanted men from the sheriff’s office and police station. The police went into action. Checking deliveries of baggage from Congress hotel, police officers located a recently rented house by one Davis, at 927 North Second Avenue.

The First Capture

Four officers went to this house early yesterday afternoon where Clark was arrested, but not without bloodshed. Chet Sherman went to the front door, a paper in his hand simulating a searcher after a strange address. Behind was Dallas Ford. To the rear door went Frank Eyman and Kenneth  Mullaney. As Sherman reached the door, he saw Clark leap from divan and come to the door with a woman. Sherman drew his pistol and Clark, accosting him, grabbed the gun.  The two men struggled for its possessions, through the living room of the house and in to the bedroom adjacent. Clark, by far the larger and more powerful, pushing Sherman ahead of him and the plucky officer hanging on to the pistol like grim death.

In the meantime the woman had shunted Ford to one side and slammed the door on the officer’s hand, breaking a finger. Reaching the bedroom, still struggling for the gun, Clark forced Sherman down on the bed, at the same time grabbing a pistol from down under a pillow.

That was his last affirmative move for a while as Ford’s pistol landed on his head. Simultaneously Eyman and Mullaney reached the scene. Clark’s struggles were soon halted and, his head a mass of blood, he was carted off to the station. A trail of blood drops from the bed across the living room out the door and down the walk marked his march to the police car.

Dr. George Purcell, county physician, pronounced the lacerations superficial. After arriving at police headquarters, Clark’s head was bound up by Drs. I. H. Howard and Jack Eason.

Makley was arrested peaceably in the Grabe Electric company store entrance and had no firearms on his person at the time. In the North Second avenue address were found two Thompson sub-machine guns, one, of the regulation, 45 calibre and one of the new “tank gun” models, chambered for the superior powerful 351 calibre rifle bullet.

In addition there were two of the latest type steel and velvet bullet-proof vests and many hundred rounds of ammunition. Two handguns were also taken. On a tabourette, near where Clark was sitting when the officers arrived, stood a half-consumed bottle of Schlitz beer bearing the caption on the label “Repeal Special.”

Shortly after the men arrived at the police station, O.E. Glover, Tucson attorney, entered, stating that he had been asked to represent Davies. Last night Glover stated that he believed Pierpont had called him on the telephone relative to Davie’s (Makley’s) case.

Has Inspiration

While police officers were booking and fingerprinting Clark and Makley, Motorcycle Patrolman Earl Nolan had what looked like an inspiration but which was, in reality, but the reaction of a trained officer and observer. It resulted in the appreciation of Pierpont, “trigger-man” of the Dillinger mob.

Nolan remembered talking to a man Wednesday night, a man with a soft voice, a new car bearing Florida license plates (the car of the original pair of gangsters bore Florida plates) and a pile of luggage in the rear of the same type and pattern as that seized in the arrest of Clark and Makley.  Nolan also remembered he had seen a Florida licensed car in a South Sixth avenue tourist camp.  The car with the Florida license, loaded and packed, was just leaving.  The driver politely agreed to come to the station for questioning.

Eyman drove down with him, the other officers following in the police car.  The man was tall, slender, soft voiced, very polite.  His mild gray-blue eyes peered through glassed.  His manner was that of a diffident, retiring scholar.  At the station he walked down the corridor and into Chief Wollard’s office.  Here he whirled and pulled out a pistol form his waist.  Eyman thrust his gun in the man’s ribs and the man’s gun was relinquished.  As quick as a flash the man drew another gun from a shoulder holster, but again Eyman was ready – first.

The glasses fell off; the expression changed to one of pure un-adulterated venom.  It was Harry Pierpont, the killer, the “trigger man” for the Dillinger mob.

Almost immediately identified by the department of justice operative and Robbins, Pierpont sneered at the “small-town cops,” looked the group over coolly and said, “I’ll remember you – and you – and you.  I can get out of any jail.  I’ll be back, and I’ll not forget.”

Again a carload of expensive clothing and luggage, as in the instance of the first arrests.  Again a deadly little Thompson sub-machine gun and worlds of ammunition.  Also several pair of handcuffs and a set of brass “knucks.”

As Pierpont was being booked at the desk, where he was never unshackled, it became certain that he had something in his mouth.  The slender “trigger-man” only gave up a small wad of paper when extreme pressure from a set of “come-alongs” on his wrist was applied.   Later it was found that he had a crumpled mass of paper in his hand.  This was extracted from him clenched fist via the same method.  The moistened wad of paper Pierpont released offered no clue as the writings had become too blotched to be legible.  The paper in Pierpon’t hands was an Indiana driver’s certificate made out in the name of John Donavan.

Plenty of Money

On Pierpont’s person officers found $3,116.20.  The prior search of Clark and Makley had produced $6,500.  The cars were 1934 Studebakers and Buicks and all luggage was of the finest quality, as were the sub-machine guns and ammunition. 

Dillinger, he who walked into the waiting arms of three enthusiastic young police officers, had one hand-gun on his person, and $9,174.44.  Of this sum $15 was in hoarded gold.  Among his effects in the car were found two more sub-machine guns, an additional 500 rounds of ammunition, a young bulldog puppy and a suitcase containing $6,500 in coin and currency, and two shortwave police radio sets.

Like Dillinger, Pierpoint also carried hoarded gold, $22.50 of it.  Dillinger was driving a Hudson sedan, Wisconsin license number 27001.  The waiting arms which so gladly gathered the gang leader belonged to Milo Walker, James Herron and Kenneth Mullaney, the latter of whom yesterday raised his average to three gangsters, grade AAA, in three times up.

Dillinger was arrested as Frank Sullivan, this being the name he gave.  Cooly he stood at the desk, his hands manacled behind him, while his money was counted.  Shown a slip with the total, the prisoner nodded his head.  He was then taken into the office of Mark Robbins, finger print expert for the police department.  Robbins from his files drew the identification data on John Dillinger, brains of the terrorist mob.  Fingerprints checked to a “T.”  Then Dillinger admitted his identity and even signed his proper name “John Dillinger” to Robbins’ criminal record card.

Dillinger told officers he had rented, yesterday, a house at 1304 East Fifth street.  He had also gas and electric receipts.  He was captured quite by surprise at the North Second avenue address about 8:30 o'clock last night when he drove up, being ignorant of the arrest of the other members of his gang.  Dillinger was walked over to the county jail to join his fellows, manacled and under heavy guard. 

A check-up on the recent activities of the Dillinger mob showed that the men were here about three weeks ago, driving other cars with California licenses, left for the coat, and when apprehended here yesterday had other newer cars with Florida licenses.  Clark and Makley entered Arizona last January 21, their on the ticket windshield showed.

From unofficial estimates last night a total of approximately $30,000 in rewards, some of the “dead or alive” category stands against Dillinger and his mob from all parts of the country.  On this basis a number of Tucson police officers should have a very good fiscal year what with this and that.

Notable in yesterday’s sensational series of captures, was the work of Chief C.A. Wollard’s younger men, notably the traffic squad.  Featured with Chief Wollard in yesterday’s wholesale round-up were Officers Dallas Ford, Chet Sherman, Frank Eyman, Kenneth Mullaney, Earl Nolan and Milo Walker.  Mark Robbins, finger print expert, make all the true identifications of the various members of the gang.

Identifications were made through bulletins in the possession of the police department and augmented by a confidential bulletin on the gang issued by the American Banker’s association.  This was brought to Chief Wollard by a local banker who, after learning who had been arrested, passed through the group of officers, giving each a heartfelt handclasp.  The American banking group had posted a $1,000 “dead or alive” reward on each member of the Dillinger mob.

The aggregate rewards for the bank bandits were unofficially totaled last night at $30,000, which, it was said, included a number recently published by various bankers’ associations.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com

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