"Winstead Didn't Know The Emotion Of Fear..."
So said SAC Blake of the Dallas FBI Office during an early 1930s "efficiency rating" of Special Agent, Charles B. Winstead.
Now from his personnel file obtained from the FBI under the Freedom Of Information Act, new clues surface regarding his personality and more.
In this writing, we attempt to present a picture of the man who most only know because of the character played in the movie "Public Enemies." As can be seen, he was really a contradiction of sorts to the polished lawyers and accountants hired by the Bureau during those early days. Although hired in the latter 1920s, by the height of the "war on crime" the Bureau realized that he, among others, also had some special qualities the Bureau desired desperately. Simply put...he among others knew how to handle a firearm.
As part of my association with the Former Agent's Society, and their Historical Committee, I've written a lengthy examination of Winstead's Bureau career. This article is published in the May, 2017 issue of "The Grapevine," an internal magazine issued for the benefit of Society members. Readers will notice how the early ratings of special agents by superiors were brutally honest. You won't see any similar wording in today's Bureau, or probably any other law enforcement entity.
As an aside, we receive many questions yearly about the whereabouts of Winstead's .45 he utilized during the Dillinger shooting. For those wondering, Winstead's file does not answer the question of what became of that firearm. In Dallas during the latter part of 1933, we know from the file that he was issued a .38 Special Colt revolver while at the Dallas field office, having qualified as a "marksman."
Winstead's statement on the Dillinger shooting reveals the .45 was a "Divison issued" one which means the Bureau issued it to him, very possibly on a temporary basis. Opinion and logic dictate that based upon other research of how weapons were distributed, a strong possibility exists the .45 was issued to him from the vault of the Chicago FBI office (as opposed to being brought from Texas) while he was on "temporary assignment" there. In all likelihood, the weapon would have been returned when Winstead finally left Chicago in 1935, if he didn't return it sooner. There is no discussion anywhere in the Winstead file, or elsewhere in any case files, indicating any thought of allowing Winstead to keep this particular firearm used to kill Dillinger as any sort of "trophy."
Winstead's .45 utilized may very well be lost to history due to nothing more than periodic turnovers of weapons at the Chicago's Bureau office. We don't have the liberty of having FBI, Chicago's weapons inventory lists of the 1930s which might give us a clue about the fate of Winstead's .45 No doubt those inventory lists of that period probably have been long destroyed.
In later life in his manuscript we reviewed, he makes no mention of having the weapon. In his book "The Bureau," Winstead's good friend, William C. Sullivan who is mentioned in our document above, makes no mention of seeing Winstead with it. The Dillinger file reviewed by us makes no mention of Winstead keeping this firearm.
During his later life, Winstead was a long time member of the Former Agents Society Chapter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. No one from that chapter who knew him has ever reported Winstead having the Dillinger firearm. His stepdaughter did mention one or two firearms to us during our telephone interviews, but she had no knowledge of him ever mentioning the Dillinger weapon.
And finally, in a decades old article within the Society's "Grapevine" magazine, SA Tom McDade, who spent time with Winstead and others during that 1934 period, made comment that Winstead had returned the Dillinger .45 to the Bureau. There is no further elaboration on McDade's comment nor how he knew this to be the case....