The search for John Dillinger and his desperadoes centered yesterday in the lake resort country around Warsaw, Indiana, and about Chicago, with indications that the outlaws had separated and gone in opposite directions after Saturday's raid on the Merchants National Bank of South Bend. In the Saturday raid the outlaws killed a policeman and escaped with $29,890 loot.
An attack by two members of the gang on a physician at North Webster, near Warsaw, Indiana, early yesterday morning after he had been forced to treat one of the bandits for gunshot wounds, led armed squads to the wooded lake country in Kosciusko County, Indiana, about 130 miles southeast of Chicago. Because the sedan in which the killers fled from South Bend was abandoned late Saturday at Goodland, Ind., 100 miles southwest of South Bend and about 100 miles southeast of Chicago, the authorities believed that Dillinger and some of his companions may have returned to their old hideouts in Chicago.
Special Squad on Duty
All roads leading into Chicago from the south were patrolled and known Dillinger haunts on the north side of the city were watched by the heavily armed special Dillinger force under Supervising Capt. John Stege.
Ordinarily most of Capt. Stege's 40 picked men on the Dillinger detail take Sunday off, but they were on the job Saturday night and throughout yesterday in search of America's No. 1 public enemy.
The attack on the North Webster physician, Dr. Leslie A. Laird, occurred at about 2 o'clock yesterday morning, but the information was not communicated to the authorities until an hour later because the physician was left unconsious from blows on the head and his telephone lines had been cut.
Dr. Laird said he was asleep in his home on the main street of the small town, when a man awoke him shouting for a doctor at the front door.
Narrative of Physician
The doctor's story follows:
"I went to the door and the man said a friend of his was waiting at my office, a block down the street, and wanted me to dress a cut on his arm. He said they had been in an auto accident.
"I got dressed and went with the man. I saw that his companion had been shot twice in the left arm, below the elbow. They forced me to treat the wounds as a precaution against tetanus, and after I had dressed them the man who was not injured asked for some cocaine.
"I told him I didn't have any cocaine and that is the last thing I remember until about an hour later, when I came to and found that I had a gash on the back of my head and a bruise on my forehead. Apparently they struck me with the butts of their guns.
"I tried to telephone the sheriff but couldn't get the operator. The phone was dead, so I went to the restaurant across the street."
Fails to Recognize Men
The physician said he was certain that neither of the men was Dillinger, whom, he said, he would recognize from photos.
"The larger fellow was about five feet nine inches sandy haired, and of light complexion," said Dr. Laird. The other, whose wounds I dressed, was nearly of the same height, but of slighter build and darker complexion. He weighed around 140.
"Both appeared to be 25 or 30 years old. Whether either one of these men was 'Baby Face' Nelson, who they say was with Dillinger, I couldn't say, for I wouldn't recognize his pictures, but I am sure that neither was Dillinger."
Dr. Laird notified Sheriff Harley Person of Kosciusko county, who went to the office and found that the bandits had ransacked it, apparently searching for narcotics, and had taken a supply of bandages and medical equipment with them. Fingerprint experts at South Bend were summoned by Sheriff Person.
No one could be found who had seen the bandits leave North Webster, but authorities pointed out that the territory would be an ideal hiding place. It would also be on a direct line to Ohio, where Dillinger and his outlaws are supposed to have remained in seclusion for more than a month before the ruthless raid in South Bend Saturday, in which they wounded four men besides killing the policeman.
North Webster, which is about 15 miles southeast of South Bend and 15 miles northeast of Warsaw, is on state highway No. 6, which was known in Prohibition days as "rum runners road."
Across the state line in Ohio is Lima, scene of one of that gang's most daring exploits, the murder of Sheriff Jess Sarber and freeing of Dillinger in return for his services in aiding 10 convicts to escape from the Indiana penitentiary on September 26, 1933.
After Dillinger been delivered from the Lima jail the gang swept down on the police station at Warsaw, bound two policemen, and escaped with machine guns and bulletproof vests, with which they have been carrying on their depredations throughout the middle west since.
Only four men, two of whom were said to be wounded, were seen to leave the bullet riddled car found at Goodland, which led the authorities to believe that the gang had split up before reaching there.
It was considered possible that the two men who slugged Dr. Laird had separated from the others soon after leaving South Bend, since witnesses were not agreed as to the number who participated in the bank raid. Two machine gunners and the leader, identified as Dillinger, who carried an automatic pistol, were in the bank and either two or three men waited in the automobile outside.
Deny Doubt Over Leader
The four men who left the car at Goodland seized another machine and headed west toward the Illinois line. It was believed probable that their destination was Chicago, where Dillinger has obtained sanctuary before, in the flats of underworld women and friendly gangsters.
Detective Harry Henderson, who claimed to have wounded one of the bandits as they fled, and Charles Coen, vice president of the South Bend bank identified the leader of the raiders as Dillinger.
Doubt remained in the minds of authorities yesterday that he really was Dillinger, because of the fashion in which the robbery was executed, the ruthless spraying of machine guns bullets, and the successful getaway, despite an immediate warning to state highway policemen throughout Indiana to guard all the roads.
The automobile in which the bandits made their escape bore Ohio license plates which were on the car used in the Fostoria Ohio bank robbery in May when Chief of Police Frank Culp was killed.
Chicago Daily Tribune Monday July 2, 1934 front page
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