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File photos Harry Pierpont, Charles Makley and Russell Clark




Brandishing guns fashioned from soap and shoe polish, Harry Pierpont, the brains of the infamous Dillinger gang, and fellow gangster Charles Makley tried to break out of the Ohio Penitentiary on Sept. 22, 1934.

The pair had been sentenced to death for killing Allen County Sheriff Jesse Sarber while breaking John Dillinger out of the jail in Lima, Ohio, the year before. A third Ohio Pen inmate who had been involved in Sarbers death, Russell Clark, didnt participate in the breakout.

When guard O.E. Slagle went into Pierponts cell with food about 10:30 a.m., Pierpont stuck a phony .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver in his ribs and slugged him with his fist. Pierpont then took the guards keys and released several other Death Row inmates.

Makley and Pierpont led an assault on the solid steel door outside the death house. The riot squad lined up, the door was flung open and, as Pierpont and Makley poked their false weapons toward the guards, the guards opened fire, Deputy Warden J.C. Woodward said at the time.

The penitentiarys eight-man riot squad mowed down Makley and Pierpont. No one else was injured.

Makley, who was shot three times, died within the hour. Bullets lodged in Pierponts spine and grazed his head but did not kill him. As he lay on the floor, he gasped, Go ahead. Shoot. Finish it.

But Pierponts finish would come less than a month later, when he walked to the electric chair.

The Dispatch reported: Pierpont, who embraced the Catholic faith, Wednesday was led into the death chamber at 12:07 a.m., a crucifix clutched in his two pale hands.

Pierpont, who failed to make good on his boast that Ill never sit in the hot seat, was pronounced dead at 12:14 a.m., Oct. 17, 1934.Clark died of cancer in 1968, the same year he was released from the penitentiary.

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