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Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation displays John Dillinger death mask

1 of 4 originals on loan from private collection for public viewing

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[September 25, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD -- The Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation Museum is extending its hours this weekend only so that visitors can catch a rare glimpse of one of four John Dillinger death masks in existence.

Dillinger was noted by historians as the most notorious criminal in U.S. history, standing out among more violent criminals such as Baby Face Nelson, Pretty Boy Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde. Dillinger pulled off numerous robberies and murders across four states in 1933-34. Wanted by dozens of police, sheriffs and the FBI, Dillinger met his fate at the hands of law enforcement in a hail of gunfire outside a crowded Chicago theater.

Four plaster death masks were cast from Dillinger's face shortly after his death. One is on display at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment in Washington, D.C. The Dillinger death mask at the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation Museum is part of the "Gangs of Illinois" display.

"The Dillinger death mask is symbolic of the Prohibition era, when mob bosses and bootleggers struggled to control territory through violence with each other and with law enforcement," said Ron Cooley, president of the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation. "The mask is as mysterious as it is intriguing, leaving one to guess Dillinger's method of operation."

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The Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation Museum will be open for this rare viewing opportunity from Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., in conjunction with the Route 66 Mother Road Festival. The museum is on Old Route 66 at 4000 N. Peoria Road in Springfield. For more information, visit or call 217-525-1922.

[Text from file received from the Illinois State Police Heritage Foundation]

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