Sunday, October 12, 2003

Ohio Moments

John Dillinger formed gang after jailbreak

On Oct. 12, 1933, Harry Pierpont and Charles Makley broke John Dillinger out of the Allen County Jail in Lima, Ohio - killing Sheriff Jesse Sarber in the process. It was the beginning of the Dillinger Gang.

A native of Indianapolis, Dillinger was sentenced to 10-21 years for robbing a grocery store in Mooresville, Ind., in 1925. He was paroled from Indiana State Prison in May 1933 after 184 of the good citizens of Mooresville signed a petition asking for his release.

On June 10, Dillinger robbed a bank - his first - in New Carlisle, Ohio. His take was $10,600. He robbed several other banks before he was arrested in Dayton. He was taken to the Lima jail to await trial.

Makley and Pierpont were fellow inmates at the Indiana State Prison. Four days after Dillinger's arrest, they - and several other inmates - escaped using guns Dillinger had smuggled into the prison.

They headed for Ohio, holing up in Hamilton until they robbed a bank in St. Marys before freeing Dillinger. The gang was captured in January 1934. Makley and Pierpont were returned to Ohio and sentenced to death for the murder of Sarber. Makley was shot dead in Columbus trying to escape. Pierpont died there in the electric chair.

Dillinger escaped jail in March and formed a new gang. That July, he was shot dead in Chicago by FBI agents. He was 31.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361

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