Depression-era gangster John Dillinger's sister dies in Mooresville at 92

Photo courtesy of Carlisle Branson Funeral Service & Crematory.

The sister of Depression-era gangster John Dillinger died Tuesday at 92.

Frances Dillinger Thompson was born May 11, 1922, in Mooresville, to the late John Wilson and Elizabeth (Fields) Dillinger.

Her brother, John Dillinger, was a Depression-era gangster who was born in Indianapolis and lived in nearby Mooresville. He was shot to death by police outside a Chicago theater in 1934.

Author Carol Sissom wrote the book, "Banking with Dillinger," and interviewed Frances Dillinger several times for her research.

"They were very close," Sissom said, speaking about the relationship Frances had with her older brother. "She esteemed him very highly. He was just a typical big brother."

Sissom says John Dillinger made frequent trips to Mooresville to visit his family.

Frances was 12 when Dillinger was killed in the shootout with police in Chicago.

"She remembers him getting away to be with her. She climbed up on his lap one time when he was shot and bleeding. He was a nurturer. She just loved him and adored him. He was a comedian so they had a good joking relationship," said Sissom.

Regarding Dillinger's reputation, Sissom said that "Frances had proof that he did not kill anyone. That was my condition. I could not write the book about her and her brother unless I was able to prove or communicate that he didn't kill anyone."

Dillinger was charged but never convicted in the murder of an Indiana police officer. It's believed that Dillinger's gang robbed over 20 banks as well as several police stations.

Sissom says Frances shied away from invitations to discuss her brother publicly, including one from Johnny Carson. "It was a lot of pain," said Sissom. "She wasn't about the money. She wasn't about the media. She wasn't about getting famous."

Services for Thompson are Friday at Carlisle Branson Funeral Service and Crematory, 39 E. High St. in Mooresville. Visitation is at 11 a.m. and the funeral at 1 p.m.