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On August 6, 1973, United Press carried an article out of Albuquerque, New Mexico reporting the death of Charles Winstead, a former FBI agent. The column may have gone almost unnoticed nationwide, since Mr. Winstead had been retired from the Agency for such a long time. He died at the age of 82 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Albuquerque.
However, Mr. Winstead had led an interesting career with the FBI and had been credited for heading up the group that finally put an end to the life and criminal career of outlaw and gangster John Dillinger in 1934. In addition to coming onto the Dillinger task force, Winstead had been part of the unsuccessful attempt to track down the Barrow gang and had also been involved in trying to capture “Machine Gun” Kelly and “Pretty Boy” Floyd.
The syndicated article went on to give details of the July 22, 1934 incident in which Dillinger was killed. The outlaw had been to a movie in Chicago at the Biograph Theater. Winstead, another agent named Charles Hurt and some local lawmen had set up outside the theater intending to kill or capture Dillinger as he left the building.
Dillinger exited the theater flanked by two females, his girlfriend Polly Hamilton and another woman named Anna Sage (actually an FBI informant). Dillinger spotted the lawmen and attempted to flee as the outlaw reached for his gun. He didn’t get much of a chance to fire and was hit by a number of shots, causing him to spin around before collapsing. Winstead was commended by Director Hoover for the action that ended the relatively short crime career of Dillinger.
During his life, Winstead had served in the United States Army during both World Wars and had been a deputy sheriff both in Texas and New Mexico in addition to his years with the FBI. He was survived by his wife, two stepsons, a daughter, a half brother and two half sisters. After his funeral Winstead was interred at Fairview Memorial Park on Albuquerque’s east side.
More about Charles Winstead’s time at the FBI, please see this web page by Larry Wack, Retired FBI Agent:
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