Dillinger love letter from Lima jail surfaces


By Lisa Powell - (Hamilton) Journal-News



John Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1.

John Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1.


HAMILTON, Ohio — A letter written by the gangster John Dillinger to the Dayton woman he loved recently came to light.

Romance lured Dillinger to Dayton in September 1933. He fell in love with Mary Longnacker, the 23-year-old sister of Jim Jenkins, a fellow inmate he met at an Indiana prison.

During a tryst at Longnacker’s Dayton boarding house on West First Street, Dayton police — tipped off by the landlady — burst in and arrested the bandit.

Urging her not to wait, Dillinger wrote a breakup letter to his sweetheart from the Allen County Jail in Lima on Oct. 1, 1933.

Last week the letter, along with the envelope Dillinger addressed to 324 W. First St., appeared when it was put up for bid by RR Auction. Headquartered in Boston, the company specializes in rare documents, manuscripts, autographs and historic artifacts.

The document, initially estimated to sell for $25,000, didn’t reach the reserve price established by the seller.

Written after he learned of the death of Longnacker’s brother, Dillinger begins the letter, “Dearest Mary.”

“I just read in the paper of Jimmy’s death and I know you must be heartbroken. I feel for you dear for I know how much you cared for each other, and I can understand your grief because Jimmy was the only real friend and Pal I had outside of my family and I loved him like a brother.

“Honey this old world has delt you some heavy blows. I wish I were free so I could take you away and make you happy but the least I can expect is ten years.”

Dillinger tells Longnacker he cares for her so much he would have given up his life of crime.

“Sweetheart if I had known two months ago that you would ever care enough about me to marry me I would have gotten a job somehow for I could enjoy working for a girl like you and having a home.”

Facing 10 years in prison, Dillinger broke up with Longnacker so she could find someone else.

“I want you to forget me for ten years or more is to long for any girl to wait, and as sweet as you are you will find the right man someday to make you happy.”

Dillinger promised he wouldn’t write anymore and signed the letter, “Love from Johnnie.”

Less than two weeks after writing the letter, Dillinger’s gang passed themselves off as prison officials and broke Dillinger out of jail, killing the sheriff during the escape.

Dillinger continued a life of crime and became “Public Enemy No. 1” on the FBI’s most wanted list. He was killed by federal agents in Chicago on July 22, 1934.

John Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2020/09/web1_Dillinger-300-1.jpgJohn Dillinger, Public Enemy No. 1.

By Lisa Powell

(Hamilton) Journal-News

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