March 31, 1934
“Notorious bank robber John Dillinger escapes authorities by blasting his way out of a Lexington Avenue apartment house in Saint Paul. Four months later “Public Enemy No. 1” is killed by federal agents in a gun battle outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.” *
“What made them do it?” This is a common question that the law-abiding portion of society has of the criminally minded. To better investigate, let us lay out some of what is known in the days leading up to this infamous Dillinger event.
03/03/34 – Dillinger escapes from jail using a wooden gun, and steals a Sheriff’s car.**
03/06/34 – Dillinger robs bank in Sioux Falls, SD. with Baby Face Nelson and others. The heist nets them approximately $49,500.**
03/07/34 – The Department of Investigation, (FBI), because in stealing and transporting a sheriff’s car he commits a Federal crime.**
03/13/34 – Dillinger robs bank in Mason City, IA. with gang, and is injured in shoulder. The theft yields about $52,000.**
03/14/34 – Dillinger is treated at home of Dr. Nels Mortenson at 2522 Fairmount Av. St. Paul, MN.**
03/16/34 – Dillinger arrives in Chicago and attempts to obtain divorce from the husband of his girlfriend Billie Frechette.**
03/19/34 – Frechette delivers sums of money and wooden gun to Audrey Hancock and Dillinger’s father.**
03/20/34 – Dillinger and Frechette rent apartment together in St. Paul, MN.**
03/30/34 – Dillinger and Frechette host a raucous party at the Lincoln Court apartments which lasts most of the night.**
03/31/34 – The caretaker tips off the Department of Investigation, (FBI), and Dillinger and Frechette escape after shoot-out. Dillinger receives wound in the left calf.**
“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 ESV ***
What shall we pray for this tragic event, and the transgressions of John Dillinger? Lord, we give You thanks that You are the author of the law of life that has set us free from separation and death. You are the Good Father that waits for all prodigal sons and daughters to stop rebelling, turn around, and come back home.
You are the only proper Judge of all humanity, whether those who do justly, or those who live in defiance. Your character is not defiled by our hatreds, or limited to our finite vantage point of our neighbor’s life. Give us humility and wisdom to watch this event with You, and to receive Your Rhema Word for ourselves and our state.
To open, Your Word tells us that we become both what we practice, and what we think about.
“Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to the one who searches for it.” **** Proverbs 11:27 NIV
“As someone thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7
Dillinger’s calendar is a portrayal of some of his thoughts and actions just for the month of March 1934. His actions betray a mind almost singularly set on crime, and personal gain. He thinks of self and worships self. He even steals a “marriage” with Billie from her husband in prison?!
Will You forgive any in our society in his day that idolized him as a folk hero? Will You forgive those who capitalized on his notorious contempt for for the law; even using him to sell their brand of cars? Will You forgive the press of his day for their greedily hyping and sensationalizing his story to sell more newspapers? We traded our scruples to be participants in his defiling story; they sold it, and we, the public bought it. Why are we such passive thinkers and indirect participants in crime? Have mercy on us!
Will You release us from the curse of worshipping an antihero like Dillinger in Saint Paul, and throughout Minnesota in the present? We idolize thugs in the music business, and our youths have become more cruel. We venerate icons of technology, though they betray our privacy for gain, and have become voyeurs. We steal from our neighbors and employers with liberality, and vote for politicians who steal our liberty. By the Authority of Jesus Christ, we break the spirit of the Antihero over our society!
Show us a better way in the future! Bless us to report crime in ways that do not honor or popularize or capitalize on the worst actors in our culture. Bless us to receive Your thinking about those committed to lawless thinking that leads them to lawless actions. May we practice “meditating on Your laws day and night” like King David! May we agree with Your thoughts, spoken through the prophet Micah;
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” *****