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Legal battle over John Dillinger's remains appears to be over

Relative drops lawsuit against Crown Hill Cemetery
John Dillinger Grave.JPG
Posted at 4:23 PM, Jan 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-09 16:27:00-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The months-long legal battle between relatives of 1930's gangster John Dillinger and Crown Hill Cemetery over Dillinger's remains appears to be over.

According to Marion County court records, Michael Thompson, who claims to be a nephew of Dillinger, has withdrawn his lawsuit against the Indianapolis cemetery where Dillinger is buried.

Crown Hill had resisted efforts by relatives of the notorious bank robber to have his remains dug up. Dillinger, who was born in Indianapolis and spent time in Morgan County, was shot-to-death by FBI agents in 1934 outside a Chicago movie theater. At the time, Dillinger and his gang were suspected of robbing 24 banks and four police stations.

Since his death, there have been those who claim the man who was shot wasn't Dillinger. The FBI maintains to this day that there is overwhelming evidence that its agents got the right man.

The effort to have Dillinger's remains dug up and examined began in earnest last year when the History Channel and Dillinger relatives asked for and received a state exhumation permit.

Crown Hill wanted nothing to do with that and the History Channel eventually pulled out of the project. Then, in December, a Marion County judge sided with Crown Hill in the Michael Thompson lawsuit, but left an opening for Thompson to file an amended suit.

In a statement provided to RTV6 last August, Crown Hill management stated that not all of Dillinger's family wanted 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.”

With this latest development, Thompson or other Dillinger relatives could file a new suit. Whether they do remains to be seen.