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Mary Evelyn "Billie" Frechette (September 15, 1907 – January 13, 1969) was an American Menominee singer, waitress, convict, and lecturer known for her personal relationship with the bank robber John Dillinger in the early 1930s.
|Born||September 15, 1907|
|Died||January 13, 1969 (aged 61)|
(m. 1925; div. 1933)
(1933–1934; his death) (common-law)
Two additional marriages (post-1940)
|Criminal charge||Harboring a criminal|
|Penalty||2 years in prison without parole|
Frechette is known to have been involved with Dillinger for about six months, until her arrest and imprisonment in 1934. She finished two years in prison in 1936, then toured the United States with Dillinger's family for five years with their "Crime Doesn't Pay" show. She married and returned to the Menominee Indian Reservation, where she was born, for a quieter life in her later decades.
Mary Evelyn ("Billie") Frechette was born in Neopit, Wisconsin, on the Menominee Indian Reservation. She described the background of her mother (née Mary Labell) as "half French and half Indian", and that of her father as simply French.
Billie Frechette's father died when she was eight years old. She attended a mission school on the reservation, and then was sent to a government boarding school for Indians in South Dakota. After time there, she moved to her aunt's to become a nurse. At the age of 18, she moved to Chicago to be closer to her sister.
Marriage and familyEdit
Evelyn Frechette and "Walter Sparks" (Welton Walter Spark) married on August 2, 1932 in Chicago. Spark was sentenced, with two others, on July 20, 1932, to a 15-year term at Leavenworth for three counts of robbery of postal substations in drug stores. Walter Spark and his co-defendant, Arthur Cherrington, both married the same day, Cherrington to Patricia Young. Their marriage ceremonies were conducted at the Cook County Jail by Chaplain E. N. Ware. Spark and Cherrington entered Leavenworth on August 13, 1932.
Involvement with John DillingerEdit
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Frechette met John Dillinger at a cabaret in November 1933. They began a relationship soon after that. Frechette was quoted saying "John was good to me. He looked after me and bought me all kinds of jewelry and cars and pets, and we went places and saw things, and he gave me everything a girl wants. He treated me like a lady". Frechette assumed more marital roles with Dillinger than an accomplice. She once drove a getaway car after Dillinger was shot by the police. She was arrested on April 9, 1934 for allowing him to hide in her St. Paul, Minnesota, apartment and for obstruction of justice. Dillinger and a companion watched the arrest from a block away. Dillinger wanted to attack the lawmen and rescue her, but accepted the argument that he would die in the attempt.
Frechette traveled with the Dillinger family for five years after her release and his death. The traveling show was "Crime Doesn't Pay." Frechette returned to the Menominee Reservation, where she had two subsequent marriages. She died of cancer on January 13, 1969, at age 61 in Shawano, Wisconsin. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery next to her third husband, Arthur Tic.
- "Primary Sources: 'What I Knew About John Dillinger' – By His Sweetheart", Public Enemy #1, American Experience (represented by them as transcriptions of two installments in a series of articles by her, The Chicago Herald and Examiner, August 1934.
- "Billie Frechette". Biography. Retrieved August 2, 2020.
- "American Experience | Public Enemy No. 1 | Primary Sources". PBS. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
- "American Experience | Public Enemy No. 1 | People & Events". PBS. Retrieved January 15, 2017.