Sneak peek of John Dillinger Museum in Crown Point

CROWN POINT, Ind. (WLS) -- John Dillinger is returning to Crown Point, Ind., the scene of one of his most famous escapes. A new John Dillinger Museum will open in the Old Lake County Courthouse, the scene of one of his most daring escapes, on July 22nd, and we're getting a very early pre-pre preview of what will be happening here in four months.

The John Dillinger Historic Museum has relocated from Hammond to Crown Point, and the newly completed section of the museum is just a small part of what will be there by opening day. There will be much more about the life of Dillinger and how he ended up in an alley next to the Biograph Theater in Chicago with several bullets in his back.

"The whole museum has a very strong "crime doesn't pay" message," says Speros Batistatos. "And the best way to see that is the notorious villain splayed out on a morgue table. Bulletholes and blood."

The museum has the actual slacks Dillinger was wearing on the night he was gunned down, as well as a silver certificate five dollar bill.

Exactly 81 years ago, Dillinger escaped from the Old Lake County Jail in Crown Point with a wooden gun. That gun is part of the exhibit, too.

"He used it to bluff the jail guards," Batistatos says. "He got tommy guns from both Lake and Porter counties. Hopped in the sheriff's car and took off."

A little more than four months later he ran into a man named Melvin Purvis, and that was the end of the line for what some might call a Depression-era Robin Hood.

"We want to emphasize the fact that this is not a memorial to a criminal," says Mary Wheeler, president of the Lake Courthouse Foundation. "It's history. This is a history museum."

Also at the museum: Dillinger's tombstone, which had to be removed from his grave because admirers chipped off pieces as souvenirs.
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