July 24, 2023 post by the US National Archives on Facebook:
There have been many infamous lawbreakers in history, but John Dillinger was the first criminal labeled by the FBI as "Public Enemy No. 1."
After spending nine years (1924–33) in prison, Dillinger went on a deadly crime spree with his gang, traveling through the states of Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. They killed numerous people, robbed multiple banks, and even raided police arsenals. FBI agents shot and killed Dillinger on July 22, 1934, as he left Chicago's Biograph Movie Theater.
Discover more digitized records related to John Dillinger in our Catalog.
Image: Wanted Poster of John Dillinger
In 1933, John Dillinger, the infamous bank robber of the 1930s was declared "Public Enemy #1" by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. See A Public Enemy’s Life in the Fast Lane at The National Archives Prologue: Pieces of History blog with John Dillinger $10,000 FBI Wanted poster. Dillinger was born and is buried in Indianapolis, his biography is on theJohn Dillinger FBI Famous Cases & Criminals page and also John Dillinger on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. DILLINGER SHOT TO DEATH BY FEDERAL AGENTS AFTER HUNT on The National Archives Today's Document includes part of a 1934 newsreel highlight from a more graphic video version Universal News, Volume 6, Release 269, Story #1, July 23, 1934 on the US National Archiveson YouTube. 10 Things You May Not Know About John Dillinger by Evan Andrews published August 4, 2014 on History.com. Stories have Dillinger in local places such as a Monroeville restaurant Comment March 3, 2017 on Allen County Genealogical Society of Indiana on Facebook.
Dillinger was locked up in the Lima, Allen County, Ohio jail, when 3 members of his gang broke him out while killing the sheriff. They also stole a machine gun and a small arsenal of guns in 1933 from the Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana police department north of Fort Wayne. The machine gun might have been responsible for the deaths of some of the 13 police officers killed by Dillinger and his gang. March 6, 2014, the gun was returned to Auburn. Dillinger legend finds its mark Gun stolen from Auburn police in 1933 finally makes it home by Frank Gray published March 7, 2014 in The Journal Gazette newspaper. View Piece of History with Violent Past Returns to Auburn video by Eric Olson March 7, 2014 Indiana NewsCenter archived on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
March 3, 2017 by Indiana Bicentennial Commission on Facebook:
ON THIS DAY // On March 3, 1934, John Dillinger escaped from the Crown Point Jail, stole Sheriff Lillian Holley’s car, and headed for Chicago. You can visit the John Dillinger Museum in Crown Point, Indiana to view the infamous wooden gun that Dillinger used to escape the Crown Point Jail.
March 3, 2021 post by the Indiana Historical Bureau on Facebook:
On March 3, 1934, notorious bank robber John Dillinger broke out of the Lake County Jail in Crown Point, where he awaited trial for his role in the robbery of the First National Bank of East Chicago and murder of an East Chicago police officer. Dillinger used a wooden pistol to intimidate inmates and jailers before fleeing from the "escape proof" jail and making a getaway in the sheriff’s personal car.
Police shot and killed Dillinger on July 22 in front of the Biograph Theater in Chicago, where he and a companion had watched the gangster film Manhattan Melodrama.
Learn more about Dillinger here: John Dillinger
The image of Dillinger below, showing him during his 1934 court hearing, is courtesy of the Indiana Album.
Dillinger gang members buried in Fort Wayne cemeteries
Homer Van Meter was born December 3, 1906 in Fort Wayne to Cary B. Van Meter and his wife Julia Miller. Homer was a get-away driver for John Dillinger. He was gunned down August 23, 1934 in St. Paul, Minnesota and is buried in Lindenwood Cemetery Section 4, Block 4, Row 2, Space 10 from Homer Virgil Van Meter on Find A Grave.
- Dillinger cohort lures curious to local digs is a newspaper article about his grave site by Jeff Wiehe published July 3, 2009 in The Journal Gazette newspaper.
- Homer Van Meter on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia has a photo and more.
- Family information is from Scott Van Metre on his HomerV. Van Meter page from his The Van Metre Family website archived on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
- A newspaper article Dillinger cohort lures curious to local digs by Jeff Wiehe published July 3, 2009 in The Journal Gazette newspaper discussed Homer Van Meter.
- Discussed December 16, 2023 on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook
The front page of the August 24, 1934 The Journal Gazette newspaper on the right was used with permission of The Journal Gazette newspaper.
An August 23, 2019 post by The History Center on Facebook:
Many celebrities count Fort Wayne as their hometown, but not all of them were on the right side of the law. One such man, Homer Van Meter, born December 3, 1905, turned to a life of crime and eventually became a member of John Dillinger’s “Terror Gang.” As member of the Dillinger gang, Van Meter was in charge of identifying and scoping out potential robbery targets. Homer Van Meter’s luck ran out, exactly 85 years ago today on August 23, 1934, when police in St. Paul, Minnesota shot him dead. Following his death, Van Meter’s body was released to Robert Klaehn & Sons’ funeral home for his burial in Fort Wayne. Today we remember the death of one of Fort Wayne’s most infamous sons. #sociallyhistory
May 19, 2023 post by The History Center on Facebook stated:
Many celebrities count Fort Wayne as their hometown, but not all of them were on the right side of the law. One such man, Homer Van Meter, born December 3, 1905, turned to a life of crime and eventually became a member of John Dillinger’s “Terror Gang.” In March of 1925, Van Meter was arrested, tried and convicted for trying to rob train passengers in Crown Point, Indiana, for which he was sentenced to 10-21 years in prison. Van Meter wrote letters, believed to have been written in January-March of 1933, to two relatives in Fort Wayne expressing contrition for his criminal actions, and requesting that they support his attempt to gain parole. Exactly 90 years ago today, on May 19, 1933 Van Meter was granted parole. This did not stop his life of crime, he later joined Dillinger in robbing several banks and was eventually killed by police in St. Paul, Minnesota on August 23, 1934. #sociallyhistory
Coins and flowers have been placed on Homer Van Meter's gravestone for many years. Some sources claim coins on gravestones are intended as a memorial to veterans. His stone was empty when I first photographed it in 2003. A newspaper article Tombstones tell tales Mementos of all types dot landscape of city cemeteries Terri Richardson October 22, 2019 in The Journal Gazette newspaper discusses leaving coins and objects on tombstones.
See Homer Virgil Van Meter Memorial on Find A Grave.
May 12, 2021 post by the Indiana Genealogical Society on Facebook:
With Memorial Day coming upon us you may notice coins left upon headstones of veterans. Do you know what each of these coins represents? #memorialday #memorialdayweekend #military
July 15, 2012 post by ARCH, Inc. on Facebook:
Looking to "liven up" your Monday evening? Join us tomorrow for our "Dearly Departed" tour of historic Lindenwood Cemetery, and learn about more than a dozen of Fort Wayne's famous former residents. This FREE tour - a 3 Rivers Festival event - is from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Hope to see you there
July 17, 2012 post by The History Center on Facebook:
Homer Van Meter was notorious in Fort Wayne.
July 16, 2013 post by The History Center on Facebook:
Chris Shatto talks about Homer Van Meter.
Three Fort Wayne men are shown on page 280 in the book Dillinger: The Untold Story by George Russell Girardin, William J. Helmer, Rick Mattix, 2004 a Google ebook.
Homer Van Meter (1906-1934) is buried at Lindenwood Cemetery. See Homer Virgil Van Meter Memorial on Find A Grave. He is shown on page 280 of the book below:
Clifford "Whitey" Mohler (1903-1968) an early Dillinger accomplice died August 25, 1968 and is buried in Prairie Grove Cemetery . See newspaper articles on the Clifford Gale “Whitey” Mohler Memorial on Find A Grave. He is shown on page 280 of the book below:
Samuel Goldstine (1890-1975) died May 19, 1975 also on page 280 is buried in Section Y, Lot 50 in Lindenwood Cemetery in Fort Wayne. See his Samuel Goldstine Memorial on Find A Grave. Another Samuel Goldstein was mistakenly thought to be Dillinger's gang member dying in jail July 22, 1939 in Lima, Allen County, Ohio on the 5th anniversary of Dillinger's death. He is shown on page 280 of the book below:
Local Dillinger Connections
Charles Markley Was Framed is a web site that looks at a Dillinger cohort who may have been involved in a bank robbery in Sheldon now Yoder, Indiana
John Dillinger Gang's Fort Wayne, IN Connection July 25, 2009 on CherryTeaTime blog has some interesting reader comments on Van Meter's Fort Wayne activities.
Other Dillinger Information
- John Dillinger on Find A Grave shows he is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery Indianapolis, Crown Hill Cemetery on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia says it is the third largest cemetery in the United States.
- Google Search
- Hammond, Indiana has the John Dillinger Museum Crime Doesn't Pay at Southshore Indiana.
- The state of Indiana lists John Dillinger Resources
- Public Enemies movie stared Johnny Depp shown on Public Enemies (2009 film) on Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Infamous Former Residents
- City native, dead at 89, found fame as bigot Report: Request made for burial at Arlington Willis Allison Carto
a native of Fort Wayne once called “the most important professional anti-Semite in the U.S.” by the Anti-Defamation League died Oct. 26 at 89.Rosa Salter Rodriguez November 5, 2015 The Journal Gazette newspaper now archived on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.