Was Dillinger Killed by the FBI Part 2

About the debate over whether the FBI killed infamous gangster John Dillinger or the wrong man, James Lawrence.

Was Dillinger Really Killed by the FBI?

When the Merchants National Bank of South Bend, Ind., was robbed on June 30, 1934, the FBI and local police insisted that Dillinger had done the job. Not only that, but his companions in the robbery were identified by police as Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd.

All evidence points to the fact that Dillinger, Nelson, and Floyd did not commit this robbery. Nelson was already on his way to California, thoroughly unnerved by the Little Bohemia raid and seeking isolation. Floyd was in Ohio at the time. And Dillinger was on the road north, heading toward Minnesota to make certain contacts in preparation for a trip west.

In early July, 1934, Chicago Police Capt. John Stege was approached by Detective Sgt. Martin Zarkovich of the East Chicago, Ind., Police Dept. Zarkovich told Stege he could, through his longtime friend and whorehouse madam Anna Sage, deliver Dillinger. There was, however, one condition. Dillinger had to be killed, not taken alive.

Stege refused, kicking Zarkovich out of his office and telling him: "I'd even give John Dillinger a chance to surrender."

Next Zarkovich went to the FBI. Purvis jumped at the plan. Anna Sage would set up Dillinger, Zarkovich stated, but the FBI had to promise to stop deportation proceedings then being enacted against her. Purvis promised.

On the night of July 27, 1934, Anna Sage, the much-publicized "Lady in Red," led a young man named "James Lawrence" into the FBI trap outside of the Biograph Theater. He was shot to death (by Zarkovich) as he left the theater.

The FBI called in the press and announced to the world that John Dillinger was dead.


James Lawrence, killed by Martin Zarkovich outside the Biograph Theater, could not have been ... John Dillinger.

An autopsy of the dead man (which was missing for three decades) performed by Dr. J. J. Kearns, the Cook County coroner's chief pathologist, utterly disproved James Lawrence's corpse as being Dillinger's. Lawrence's eyes were brown. Dillinger's eyes were blue. The dead man possessed a rheumatic heart condition chronic since childhood, Dillinger did not. (It would have been impossible for Dillinger to play baseball, join the navy, or perform his athletic bank-robbing feats with such a condition.) Lawrence was shorter and heavier than Dillinger would have been. He also lacked all of Dillinger's scars, wounds, and birthmarks. His face was not altered through plastic surgery as explained by the FBI (i.e., to compensate for the obvious differences in his face from that of Dillinger's).

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