Auctions | January 13, 2023

John Dillinger Signed Guilty Plea Sells for $34,370

RR Auction

John Dillinger's signed plea and detailed description of his criminal plan ha sold for $34,370 at auction, according to Boston-based RR Auction. The historically significant one-page document signed "John Herbert Dillinger," circa 1924 Indiana Reformatory document lists his crimes and sentences.

At the bottom is Dillinger's statement on the crime: "Edward Singleton (awaiting trial) and I planned together to rob a grocery man at Mooresville, Ind. on the night of September 6th, 1924 we hid behind a building about two blocks from his grocery which he always passed when he went to his home. When he came along, I jumped out from behind the building and hit him twice on the head with a bolt which I had wrapped up in a handkerchief. He then turned and grabbed a revolver which I held in my hand. The gun was discharged when I jerked it away from him in my hand. The gun was discharged when I jerked it away from him the bullet entering the ground. We then ran. I was arrested as a suspect at my father's home the following day. At first I denied any connection with the crime, but later admitted my guilt. I am guilty as charged."

Dillinger was released in May 1933, after a petition bearing the signatures of almost 200 residents from his adopted hometown of Mooresville, Indiana—including that of his grocer victim—was presented to the governor. Dillinger quickly resumed a life of crime with his prison friends, whom he helped escape in a spectacular and well-planned breakout. He and the gang embarked on a bank robbing spree, conducting a dozen separate heists between June 21, 1933, and June 30, 1934—to the tune of well over $300,000.

In 1934, when J. Edgar Hoover named Dillinger' Public Enemy Number 1,' Indiana Governor Paul V. McNutt's secretary, Wayne Coy, observed: 'There does not seem to me to be any escape from the fact that the State of Indiana made John Dillinger the Public Enemy that he is today.

“An exceedingly rare and early Dillinger document, affiliated with his life of crime and boasting his rare, full signature,” said Bobby Livingston, Executive VP at RR Auction.