Judge Rules Dillinger's Nephew Can't Exhume Gangster's Body

The cemetery has to give approval, the judge found
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 4, 2019 2:56 PM CST
Relative Loses Bid to See If Dillinger Really Is in That Grave
This undated file photo shows Indiana Reformatory booking shots of John Dillinger, stored in the state archives.   (Indiana State Archives/The Indianapolis Star via AP, File)

It's been a back-and-forth of headlines since the summer: John Dillinger's remains were to be exhumed. Then not. Then yes. Now not again. The Indianapolis Star reports an Indiana judge on Wednesday ruled the planned exhumation cannot occur. Dillinger's nephew Michael C. Thompson had secured a Department of Health permit to do so in June as part of a planned (but since terminated) partnership with the History Channel to DNA test the remains; Crown Hill Cemetery opposed the move. Thompson secured a new permit in early October and sued the cemetery to get access to the grave. Marion County Superior Court Judge Timothy Oakes was tasked with weighing in on whether the exhumation could proceed without the cemetery's OK.

An Indiana statute requires that such approval be granted, and Oakes found the statute made clear that the cemetery owner must "give consent before disinterment may occur, and the statute does not require that the cemetery have a valid, rational, or meaningful reason." The AP reports the cemetery's lawyers have called Thompson's assertion that the body buried there is not Dillinger's "a decades-old conspiracy" and said it had the right to "protect its gravesites from unwarranted disturbance." Oakes did leave the door open for Thompson, however; the case with dismissed without prejudice, meaning Thompson's lawyer can file an amended complaint under a different section of the statute. (More John Dillinger stories.)

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