John Herbert Dillinger, Jr. was born on June 22, 1903, in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the youngest of two children born to John Wilson Dillinger and Mary Ellen "Molly" Lancaster.
As a boy he committed petty theft. In 1924 he robbed a grocery store and was caught and jailed. He escaped and he and his gang headed to Chicago to put together one of the most organized and deadly bank robbing gangs in the country.
Throughout 1933 and 1934, Dillinger was the most notorious of all Depression-era outlaws, standing out even among more violent criminals such as Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde. His exploits during the Great Depression made him a headline news celebrity and one of the most feared gangsters of the 20th century.
It was during this time that J. Edgar Hoover developed a more sophisticated Federal Bureau of Investigation as a weapon against organized crime and used Dillinger and his gang as his campaign platform to launch the FBI.
On June 30, 1934, John Dillinger robbed his last bank. He was accompanied by Homer Van Meter, "Baby Face" Nelson, and one other unidentified individual. As they entered, Nelson fired his machine gun to get everyone's attention inside the bank, which in turn got everyone's attention outside the bank. The resulting chaos ended with several hostages and one police officer shot, as well as Van Meter. The gang got away, with the total take on the bank robbery netting each gang member only $4,800.
Dillinger's downfall and death came after he was betrayed by landlady, Anna Sage, also known as Ana Cumpanas. Sage was facing deportation proceedings for running several brothels. Although Dillinger was living under an alias, Jimmy Lawrence, and had changed his appearance, Sage knew who he was. She contacted the police and offered to reveal his whereabouts in exchange for the reward money and help in blocking her deportation .
On July 22, 1934, attended the movies with Sage and Polly Hamilton, his current girlfriend. When the movie was finished, Dillinger walked out of the theater between Sage and Hamilton. Federal agents were waiting for him outside. As he attempted to run away, he was shot and killed.