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Follow WDW on Facebook. Hamilton was nicknamed "Three-Finger Jack", having lost two of his right fingers in a sledding accident when he was young. On March 16, , he was convicted of the robbery of a gas station in St. Joseph County, Indiana , [ clarification needed ] and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Dillinger was paroled in May , but swore to liberate his friends, and had handguns smuggled in to Hamilton, Makley, Pierpont, Clark and several other convicts. On September 26, , a total of ten armed men, including Hamilton, escaped from the main gate of Indiana State Prison.
Soon afterwards the gang learned that Dillinger had in the meantime been arrested for bank robbery and was being detained at the Allen County Jail in Lima, Ohio. Determined to free Dillinger, the gang needed cash to fund an escape. A day later, after Hamilton had left his car at a Chicago garage for some body work, the garage's mechanic called police with his suspicion that it was a "gangster car".
When Hamilton returned to pick up the car and found a police detective, William Shanley and two other officers waiting to question him, he opened fire, killing Shanley, and managing to elude capture by the other two officers.
During the heist, police officer William O'Malley was shot dead. Dillinger was officially charged with the murder, but several witnesses indicated that Hamilton was the shooter. By the end of the year, Hamilton found himself ranked third on Indiana's list of " public enemies ", after Dillinger and Harry Pierpont. Hamilton, himself shot twice during the East Chicago robbery, was left in the care of his girlfriend Pat Cherrington and underworld physician Joseph Moran , while Dillinger and the others headed to Tucson where they were apprehended by the authorities.
Hamilton subsequently accompanied the gang on a string of lucrative, but chaotic armed robberies. In the robbery, a motorcycle cop named Hale Keith was severely wounded when Nelson shot him down through a plate glass window.
Hamilton was wounded yet again — shot in the shoulder by an elderly judge across the street, who also managed to wound Dillinger. Now the subjects of a massive manhunt and media campaign, Hamilton and Dillinger made a discreet visit to Hamilton's sister's home in Sault Ste.
Marie, Michigan , on April After returning to Chicago, the gang retreated to the Little Bohemia resort near Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the raid did not go as planned: the agents mistakenly opened fire on a car that contained three local work camp employees — Eugene Boisneau, John Hoffman and John Morris — after thinking they were gangsters. Boisneau was killed and Hoffman and Morris were both wounded. Dillinger, Hamilton, Van Meter and Tommy Carroll escaped by jumping from a second floor window in the back of the lodge onto a mound of frozen snow, then running along the shore of Star Lake.
A day later, on April 23, Hamilton, Dillinger and Homer Van Meter were again confronted by authorities in Hastings, Minnesota , and another shootout ensued. Hamilton was mortally wounded by a bullet as he and the rest of the gang escaped in a car. The gang again took him to see doctor Joseph Moran in Chicago. For some reason, Moran refused to treat Hamilton. Hamilton reportedly died on April 26, Dillinger and Davis buried their friend near Oswego, Illinois , and Dillinger reportedly covered Hamilton's face and hands with lye , to hinder any later attempt to identify the body.
Not yet knowing that Hamilton had died almost three weeks prior, authorities indicted him on May 19 of harboring fugitives. Hamilton's sister was convicted of the same charge, and spent a short time in prison. Hamilton's grave was discovered on August 28, , the body identified from Hamilton's prison dental records.
There were at the time several persistent rumors that Hamilton was actually still alive.