Five Notorious Criminals and How They Were Caught

You’ve seen them portrayed in movies and television, but do you know their whole story? How they were caught? Let’s learn more about five of the most notorious criminals in U.S. history and how they were caught courtesy of the FBI.

1. Al Capone

At the beginning of the 1900s, notorious gang member, Al Capone, began obtaining notoriety. Capone’s escapades began shortly after he quit school in the sixth grade to become accepted as a member of a street gang. In 1920, Capone joined the Torrio gang (part of the Colosimo mob) in Chicago. The gang was a big supplier for illegal brewing, distilling, and distribution of beer and liquor during Prohibition. The Colosimo mob cultivated influence with public officials, labor unions, and employee associations. Shortly after in 1925, Capone obtained leadership of the gang when their leader, Torrio, surrendered control and retired in Brooklyn. In March 1929, Capone appeared before the federal grand jury in Chicago because of his reluctance to appear before the grand jury and the subpoena he had received. He was arrested by agents for contempt of court; he posted $5,000 bond and was released. Then again, in suspicion of being linked to the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and after several years of prison stints, tax evasion, and prohibition charges, Capone was confined to the Cook County Jail while awaiting the results of his appeals. When his appeals were denied, he was sentenced to the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta and eventually moved to Alcatraz. In 1939, he was released after serving more than seven years, and having paid all fines and back taxes that he owed. Capone also suffered from paresis derived from syphilis, and had deteriorated immensely during his time in confinement. He resided in Palm Island with his wife and immediate family until his he died in 1947 from stroke and pneumonia.


2. Bonnie and Clyde

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker were part of one of the most spectacular manhunts in the nation during the 1930s. It began in 1932 when the FBI became interested in Clyde after a Ford automobile was stolen in Oklahoma. With the help of Bonnie, they began their run from authorities. Living a life of crime was their mantra, and after a series of stolen cars, robberies, murders, kidnappings, and more, Barrow and Parker were shot to death by officers in an ambush in Bienville Parish, Louisiana in May 1934.

3. John Dillinger

The 1930s depression in America left many Americans helpless, and began the rise of outlaws, and the Gangster Era and their crimes. John Dillinger was one of the most famous of those outlaws. Dillinger was part of a violent gang that terrorized the Midwest in the early 30s. In 1933, he was convicted of assault and battery with intent to rob and conspiracy to commit a felony, and received joint sentences of two to 14 years, and 10 to 20 years in the Indiana State Prison. After serving eight-and-a-half years of his sentence, Dillinger was paroled from prison and almost immediately, robbed a bank in Ohio. After a long string of other robberies, murders, and being on the run from the law, Dillinger was pronounced dead on July 22, 1934, in Chicago after he was shot by authorities. 

4. The Disappearing Diamond

In 1959, a diamond ring (worth $275,000) with a center blue-white stone and two baguette-shaped diamonds on either side, was stolen. The diamond, owned by American baroness Vera Krupp, wore the ring everywhere. The ring was stolen on an evening in April after dinner; three men forced their way into her home and ripped the ring off her finger. Along with the ring, thieves stole $700,000 in cash, a revolver, and a camera. One of the perpetrators was later found six weeks later in New Jersey. The criminals were brought to trial in November 1959, and on November 20, they were found guilty. 

5. Willie Sutton

“The Actor” or “Slick Willie” was a man of style and good taste but he didn’t spend a dime on the things he ‘owned’. As a bank robber, Willie Sutton had the reputation of being a gentleman, and witnesses to his crimes said he was polite. After five complete escapes from prison, Sutton was added to the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Eventually, authorities caught the dapper-don in 1952, and he was sentenced to serve two life sentences and 105 years, but due to illness, he was released in 1969. In November 1980, Willie Sutton died at the age of 79 in Spring Hill, Florida.

Have you ever thought about working in a career field that fights crime and captures criminals? If so, the Rasmussen College School of Justice Studies degrees—with a variety of degree specializations—may be just what you need to help start your career in the justice system. After reading these stories, what degree will you go after? 

External links provided on are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Kendall is an Online Community Specialist at Collegis Education who oversees online communities on behalf of Rasmussen College. She has a passion for social media and enjoys motivating and encouraging former, current and future learners.

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