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John Dillinger was an infamous gangster and bank robber during the Great Depression, and was know as "Jackrabbit" and "Public Enemy No. 1."
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Pierpont and Van Meter had longer sentences than John Dillinger but they weren't planning on serving out their full terms. They had already begun planning bank heists for when they were out. Upon leaving prison, they would bribe a few key guards, get a few guns, and grab a place to lay low for awhile. But they would need money to finance their jail break. Knowing that Dillinger would be freed sooner than they,
Pierpont and is colleagues brought him in on their scheme and gave Dillinger a crash course in the art of robbery. They gave him a list of stores and banks to hold up and contact information of the most reliable accomplices. They also provided him with guidance on where to fence stolen goods and money.
In May of 1933, the plan got an unexpected boost. Dillinger had been in the state pen for almost four years. He was notified by his family that his stepmother was near death. He was granted parole, but arrived home after she had died. Seizing on the moment, he joined up with a few of Pierpont's men and began a string of robberies that netted nearly $50,000. With the aid of two female accomplices, Pearl Elliott and Mary Kinder, Dillinger put the escape plan in motion. He arranged for several guns to be packed in a box of thread, and smuggled into the shirt factory. The prison break was set for September 27, 1933.
Having some time on his hands, Dillinger decided to visit lady friend Mary Longnaker in Dayton, Ohio, whom he had met earlier that year. Unfortunately, the police had been stalking him through much of this time as he gathered the funds for the prison break. After receiving a tip from his landlady, they stormed into Mary's room and arrested Dillinger. He was on his way back to prison. In the meantime, Pierpont and his men escaped from Indiana State Prison and made their way to the gang's hideout in Hamilton, Ohio.
John Dillinger was incarcerated at the Lima, Ohio, jail under the care of Sheriff Jess Sarber and his wife, who lived at the jail building. The jail was just a little over 100 miles away from Pierpont's hideout. He realized that with some cash and a few guns he would be able to spring Dillinger. Pierpont and two other men knocked over a local bank that had been previously closed due to the "bank holiday" enacted by Treasury Department. Armed with pistols, the three men approached the jail house just as Sheriff Sarber and his wife were finishing dinner. Pierpont knocked on the door and announced they were officers from the state penitentiary and needed to see Dillinger. When Sarber asked for their credentials, they showed him their guns. Sarber reached for a gun and Pierpont panicked and shot him twice. Mrs. Sarber gave them the jail keys and they sprang Dillinger. Sarber died a few hours later. This made all members of the gang accessories to murder.
Once John Dillinger was free, the gang headed to Chicago to put together one of the most organized and deadly bank robbing gangs in the country. To pull many of the big jobs they had planned, Pierpont and Dillinger knew they needed heavy fire power, ammunition, and bullet-proof vests.
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