John Dillinger escaped from the Crown Point County Jail on March 3, 1934. While the rumor still lingers that the bank robber escaped from Crown Point with a wooden gun, the truth is that he escaped with a real gun. The wooden gun was a facsimile designed by a carpenter. The escape was masterminded by Dillinger's attorney, Louis Piquett, and arranged with the transfer of $3,500.00 to high-ranking officials in Lake County. The money was exchanged in a Main Street saloon just down the road from the jailhouse. On the morning of March 3, 1934, Dillinger escaped in the company of Herbert Youngblood, an African-American inmate of the prison. Together, the two drove into Chicago.
After his escape, Dillinger was anxious to meet his girlfriend, Evelyn "Billie" Frechette. Evelyn was his faithful companion who was arrested on April 8, 1934, and convicted for harboring him. Yet, until the day of her arrest, she ran with John Dillinger during his notorious year on the lam.
Evelyn "Billie" Frechette, waited for John in an apartment in the North Side of Chicago. She was the true love of his lonely, desperado's existence. John Dillinger escaped from Crown Point, the "Escape Proof" jail in Lake County, Indiana, in a Ford V8 that was titled to the sheriff of the jail, Sheriff Lillian Holley. According to historian Sandy Jones, "The Crown Point escape was planned. Frechette had no problem buying cars."
Although Dillinger's attorney, Louis Piquett, had arranged for the Crown Point escape, his involvement stopped short of buying a legally registered car. "Piquett wouldn't want to get involved by having his name tied into a legal vehicle title," says Sandy Jones, John Dillinger Historical Society.
According to what is known, Dillinger arrived in Chicago in Sheriff Holley's 1933 Ford. Immediately upon entering Chicago, Dillinger abandoned that car. He switched to the black 1933 Essex Terraplane 8, the car that Billie had previously bought for him.
Shown above is Dillinger's restored Essex Terraplane, now owned by historian Sandy Jones.
March, 1934, Evelyn depended upon the help of her sister, and friend Marge, for shelter. With a roof over her head, she had a place to hide her fugitive boyfriend, Dillinger, from the law. He met his girlfriend at 3512 North Halsted Street, in Chicago. Evelyn was sharing an apartment with her sister and a girlfriend. These three woman liked the nightlife of the area and went out to the neighborhood taverns.
Evelyn told the judge and jury, during her trial for harboring Dillinger, that she'd only tried to help the fugitive because she loved him. Her "sweetheart" defense didn't sway the jury. She was found guilty of harboring Dillinger, a Federal fugitive.