By Wade Coggeshall
For The Lebanon Reporter
A piece of history from a historic, and notorious, Indiana figure is now on display at Indianapolis International Airport.
A 1933 Essex Terraplane, which served as a getaway car for bank robber John Dillinger, may now be viewed in the ticketing hall between the American Airlines and U.S. Airways counters at the airport. It will remain on display there until March 2015. The artifact is on loan from the Crime Museum in Washington, D.C.
Walter “Butch” Smith, a retired jail inspector for the state of Indiana and member of the Boone County Council, was on hand for the car’s unveiling. He saw the first movie made about Dillinger as a child and has been fascinated with him ever since.
“He continued to be popular, and I continued to be interested,” Smith said. “He did more things in 13 months than I could in 74 years.”
Dillinger was born June 22, 1903, in Mooresville, and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. His gang is believed to have robbed two dozen banks and four police stations.
Over the years, Smith has visited several of the banks that Dillinger robbed. He also went to Tucson, Ariz., where Dillinger was once arrested, and shot one of the machine guns he used. Smith even went to Dillinger’s family home and met his half-sister. Dillinger’s half-brother worked for the Indiana State Police and once changed the spark plugs on Smith’s cruiser.
Smith doesn’t think Dillinger’s crime spree could be duplicated today.
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