Ladies and Gentlemen:
Over the last two or less year period, the current FBI Historian, Dr. John Fox and I have been looking for the misplaced Dillinger gun he had at the Biograph. The search for the gun involved searches of vaults and old tour items at HQ; a review of thousands of FOIA pages of old Dillinger files, photos and old media reports; contacts with outside historians/writers/collectors and some contact with former Lab, Crime Records, and Exhibits Section folks still around. Also, some contact with those close to Mr. Hoover.
Dr. Fox has also been checking locations at Washington D. C. housing old tour exhibit items particularly one warehouse we're aware of where the search narrowed. (I am retired now and could not assist in that search).
We have been examining "secondary files" in addition to the Dillinger file where, from being an insider, documentation may be known to exist.
For at least a year, John and I have been comparing notes on the search for Dillinger's gun.
Having been a tour leader prior to becoming a Special Agent with the Bureau, myself and others already knew in about 1968-70 that Dillinger's gun was missing and replaced in the tour exhibit. We thought nothing of it at the time and rumors spread that Hoover gave it to comedian Red Skelton. (During our search, it was found this rumor was still in existence and had to be resolved.)
It was established through file review that Dillinger's gun, hat, cigar and glasses was no doubt taken to Washington, D. C. at Hoover's specific request to Purvis. The press in Washington was chomping at the bit to see the exhibits. The gun and other items made their way to an exhibit inside/outside the Director's office, circa the late '30s.
With regard to this same exhibit, we know that "later" the Dillinger gun was replaced in the tour exhibit with a "replica" of a .380 belonging to gangster Volney Davis, a Dillinger associate.
The immediate problem is we don't know when that "replica" was inserted.
It had to be PRIOR TO 1970 when authors Jay Nash and Ron Offen revealed the gun in the Dillinger tour exhibit was not, in fact, Dillinger's. (They were right; the Davis "replacement" had already occurred.) They used this as part of their book "Dillinger: Dead or Alive?" Very few realize that in reality, the revelation by Nash/Offen in about 1970 that Dillinger's gun was missing from the tour exhibit was not any real news to insiders. The gun in the exhibit was clearly marked at that time as a "replica" of the Dillinger gun.
There were 2 letters found in the Dillinger file revealing that private citizens had written the Bureau about Dillinger's gun and the shooting. In those 1949 letters, each was told the "Dillinger gun is currently in the tour exhibit."
If these letters are accurate, Dillinger's weapon probably was misplaced between about 1949 and Jay Nash's book of 1970. What actually happened, we're still not sure of.
On or about November 1, 2007, Dr. Fox immediately contacted me regarding the finding at FBIHQ of a .380 Colt among old tour exhibits in a warehouse used by the Bureau. With regard to the newly found Colt .380:
"¢ The gun Dr. Fox found on or about November 1, 2007 has significant markings which match the photo of the Dillinger gun taken by the media the day after the shoot. Specifically, the serial number obliteration marks seem to match.
"¢ Also of significance is a July 25, 1934 article in file found that Director Hoover commented to the press to the effect the Dillinger gun he held had a dent in the barrel. The "dent in the barrel" has never been known about to our knowledge.
"¢ The gun John found, in addition to other items noted, has a dent/"ding" in the barrel which is now believed to be what Hoover was referring to.
"¢ The gun found has significant drilling holes for mounting and an observed "glue" area on the right side where the Bureau tour identification label probably was. That identification label for the gun has become detached and cannot be found.
"¢ As John noted, the gun was found at FBI Headquarters among old tour exhibits and other weapons. Specifically at a warehouse used to store these items.
One key question lingers on this: What is the date the Volney Davis .380 is used to replace an apparent misplaced Dillinger gun? And where is the documentation to show it?
We've held off a bit releasing this find in hopes of immediately locating some documentation on the found gun. It now appears this is going to be difficult and take some time. As a result, it's decided to inform you and others in the interim.
Preliminary photos of the newly found gun are at my website at: http://historicalgmen.squarespace.com/
Look in the navigation area on the right down the page for the link.
Based on the totality of facts known, and markings etc. on the found gun, Dr. Fox and I believe there's a 99 per cent chance this is Dillinger's missing weapon from the Biograph. The search for proper documentation of the newly found gun continues and we'll update you as best we can.
I want to especially thank Bill Helmer, Rick Mattix, Sandy Jones, & Ron Morgan, for their continued assistance on this over the last year. Dr. Fox's efforts have been superb.
Special Agent, FBI – Retired
|Powered by Social Strata|