Gangster’s Wives: Helen Gillis

Lester “Baby Face Nelson” married Helen Gillis in 1928. Throughout the duration of their marriage, she would never use her husband’s last name, but she did embark on a life of crime with him. In 1934, the couple became part of the infamous Dillinger gang. Together, they took part in bank robberies and crimes across the country.

It was in the spring of that same year that FBI agents tracked the gang to the Little Bohemia Lodge, Wisconsin. Although they were surrounded, the men got away, leaving the women who were traveling with them behind; including Gillis. In November 1934, Lester Gillis was fatally wounded in a shootout with FBI agents; who also resulted in the death of the agents. Loyal to the man that she shared a life of crime with, Helen refused to leave his body behind. She took it with her and an associate, as they left the scene of the shootout. He died in his wife’s arms.

Two days after the naked body of Lester “Baby Face” Nelson was found in a ditch, near a cemetery, Helen Gillis turned herself in. She was sentenced to one year and a day at the Women’s Federal Reformatory in Michigan.