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Judge rules in favor of Indiana cemetery, John Dillinger's body will not be exhumed

Posted at 12:29 PM, Dec 04, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A judge ruled in favor of an Indianapolis cemetery on Wednesday, saying they do not have to allow family members of John Dillinger the right to exhume his body under current laws.

After a months-long battle to exhume the body of the Great Depression-era gangster, the court sided with Crown Hill Cemetery saying that Indiana Statute 23-14-57-1 states that the cemetery owner must give consent for disinterment to occur, and the cemetery does not have to give a valid or rational reason to deny any request for disinterment.

Michael Thompson, who claims to be the nephew of Dillinger, was issued a permit on October 3 by the Indiana State Department of Health approving the "reinterment, reentombment and reinurnment" of Dillinger's grave on December 31, 2019.

Crown Hill Cemetery objected to the proposed exhumation back in August, citing the need to protect the safety, integrity and "peaceful tranquility" of the families they serve.

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In a statement provided to RTV6 back in August, Crown Hill management stated that not all of Dillinger's family agrees with the exhumation.

“Crown Hill objects to the exhumation of John Dillinger. We have a duty to the families we serve to ensure the safety and integrity of the Cemetery which is threatened by the proposed exhumation. We also have concerns that the complex and commercial nature of this exhumation could cause disruption to the peaceful tranquility of the Cemetery and those who are visiting to remember their loved ones. Additionally, we received notice that not all of Mr. Dillinger’s next of kin agree with the exhumation. We honor the trust placed in us to protect all individuals in our care, and to protect the interests of those who cannot speak for themselves.”

This story was originally published by Katie Cox at WRTV.