A young, married woman who was separated from her singing-waiter husband, Jean was well-spoken, blond and quiet. While the other "molls" amused themselves with card games and gambling, Jean Delaney Crompton liked to read. She brought a library book when she accompanied bank robber Tommy Carroll to the Little Bohemia Lodge, a Dillinger-gang hideout from April 19-22, 1934.
When the first shots were fired into the building by the FBI, the gang members fled into the darkness, leaving the women to take cover. During the night-long raid, Jean hid in a coal bin with two other Dillinger gang women, Helen Gillis and Marie Comforti. The three women surrendered after being forced out of the building by an invasion of tear gas.
Her novel was discovered in the days after the raid. She'd been a regular user of the Minneapolis Public Library. In literature, as in crime, she had the same habits. Her library card was registered to an alias - "Jean Lane."
In this rare photo, L to R, Jean Delaney Crompton, Helen Gillis, and Marie Comforti sit on a divan in the Sheriff's office in Vilas. She gave an alias, Ann Sothern, after the popular movie actress of the day. The photograph was taken secretly by a relentless photographer, determined to break through a news blackout that had been put into effect.
When she was caught at Waterloo, Iowa, on June 7, 1934, in a shootout that resulted in Carroll's death, she made a favorable impression on one newspaper reporter. She was nothing like a gangster's moll, he said. When she heard Carroll was dead, she fainted into the arms of a woman bootlegger serving time for alcohol. "He couldn't have been guilty of the things they have said about him," she cried. This "innocent act" enraged the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover.
She returned to Wisconsin for revocation of the parole granted after Little Bohemia. She would serve one year and one day in the Alderson Industrial Institution in West Virginia. She arrived in Alderson during a 110 degree heat wave.
"It's so dreadfully hot here," she wrote in a letter to her mother.
"The majority are in for narcotics," she related.
While in prison, she went to Sunday Mass, giggled at her appearance in her cotton gingham dress and white socks. She had the same worries that plague women in our era - petite at 102 pounds, she worried about "getting fat."
After serving her time, she returned to a private life. She divorced her husband, Eddie "Lonzo" Crompton, in Chicago in 1935.