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circa 1934:  Portrait of American criminal gang leader and bank robber John Dillinger (1902 - 1934) wearing a jacket and tie.  (Photo by American Stock/Getty Images)
History - Science
In July 1934, after John Dillinger was declared "Public Enemy No. 1," a friend of his tipped the authorities off about his whereabouts in exchange for leniency in her own case. Dillinger was killed in a shootout with the FBI outside Chicago’s Biograph Theatre, where he reportedly pulled a gun first and injured two civilians.
There were rumors that Dillinger was not the one who was killed in the shootout, as the dead individual's physical appearance had differences from Dillinger's. However, Dillinger often went to great lengths to conceal his identity, including his 1934 plastic surgery and using acid on his fingers to remove his fingerprints.
An autopsy was performed on John Dillinger's body a day after his death, but the report went missing for 50 years before being found at the Cook County Medical Examiner's office inside a brown paper bag in 1984. The height and weight of the body matched the information on Dillinger's driver's license, while the bullet wounds and previous injuries were also observed.
However, there was a discrepancy in Dillinger's eye color, as it was listed as brown on the autopsy report, but his previous records described them as blue. According to Cook County Medical Examiner Dr. Robert Stein, it was inconsequential, as the eyes tend to change appearance after death because of "clouding of the cornea."
The body was reportedly unrecognizable when it arrived at the morgue, but Jeff Scalf, Dillinger's great-nephew, confirmed that it was Dillinger's body. Scalf later noted, "It was rushed. It was very hectic that night. John was a legendary figure, and so I think there were some mistakes made. When I was younger, I wanted to believe that he got away, that it wasn't him, but it was him.”