It's excruciating for Carol Kasper to see her grandfather's alleged killer glamorized -- to see a family member becoming nothing more than a sentence in the seductive story of the FBI's Public Enemy No. 1.
"We are not stupid," said Kasper, of St. John. "We know it's a part of history, but it's frustrating when articles say 'an East Chicago police officer was killed,' like he's a statistic."
Kasper is the granddaughter of Detective William Patrick O'Malley, known to his family and friends as Pat.
He was the East Chicago police officer who was shot to death during a bank robbery by the infamous John Dillinger gang in 1934.
When Dillinger was captured, he was brought to the Lake County Jail in Crown Point because of O'Malley's death. Dillinger was never convicted of the slaying -- he escaped from the jail and was later killed in Chicago.
In the family, O'Malley's death seemed an ever-present elephant in the room. Kasper said her grandfather was rarely discussed, although she spent seven years being raised by her grandmother, Leticia O'Malley, who never remarried.
Kasper said much of what happened the day O'Malley was shot is unknown expect for a few specifics. Kasper said her grandmother always said there were 18 bullet holes in O'Malley's body.
"I don't think I could stand there with a .38 and shoot at a man with a machine gun," Kasper said.
When O'Malley died, he left behind his wife and three daughters, Fran, Agnes and Margaret, Kasper's mother. O'Malley's widow received the typical pension of $50 a month, but initially the city rallied together, donating about $200. Kasper still has a copy of the donation list, showing individual amounts of mostly $2 and $5.
"We the friends and associates of Officer William Patrick O'Malley, who was killed in the line of his duty by bandits, subscribe the amounts set opposite our names to help in this emergency," the list reads.
For the most part, the family learned to deal with the Dillinger fascination, but it never made the mention of O'Malley's death easier. One night, her grandmother was babysitting Kasper's cousin, Debbie Martin, when a documentary about Dillinger came on television.
Leticia O'Malley broke down into sobs, but when Martin made a move to turn off the TV, her grandmother shooed her away, Kasper said.
"I want to see what they say about your grandfather," Kasper recalls the elderly woman saying.
For Kasper, it seems Dillinger continues to come back to life. Between the coming "Public Enemies" movie starring Johnny Depp as Dillinger and the recent reopening of the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau's Dillinger museum, the robber's name has left the lips of many of the region's residents.
But Kasper and her grandfather's four other granddaughters are tired of hearing about the infamous bandit.
"Our hero is Grandpa," she said.
"We should say something about the officer killed and what he left behind."