Court sides with Crown Hill Cemetery in dispute over Dillinger exhumation

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against Crown Hill Cemetery by the family of notorious gangster John Dillinger.

Judge Tim Oakes heard arguments in the case Wednesday. Dillinger’s nephew, Michael Thompson, wants to exhume his uncle’s remains to confirm that he’s buried there. Some members of Dillinger’s family believe Dillinger wasn’t shot and killed outside a Chicago theater in 1934.

Thompson had hoped to have Dillinger’s remains exhumed by the end of the month. The exhumation had originally been scheduled for September as part of a documentary for the History Channel. The cable network has since called off the documentary.

Thompson hoped the exhumation would end years of speculation regarding Dillinger’s fate. The FBI maintains that Dillinger died during a shootout at the Biograph Theatre.

Thompson filed a lawsuit against Crown Hill asking the court to order the cemetery not to interfere with plans to exhume Dillinger’s remains. Crown Hill objected to the plan, saying it had a “duty to the families we serve to ensure the safety and integrity of the Cemetery which is threatened by the proposed exhumation.”

From Wednesday’s ruling:

Court finds that the statutory requirements for this section of the statute are clear in that disinterment requires the cemetery owner to give consent before disinterment may occur and the statute does not require that the cemetery have a valid, rational, or meaningful reason. Thus, Court GRANTS the Defendant Crown Hill Cemetery’s Motion to Dismiss under this section without prejudice.

Timeline information gathered through PBS.org, JohnDillinger.com, and Wikipedia (John Dillinger page and the Dillinger Gang page)

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