John Dillinger as he looked while being taken from Tuscon, Arizona to Crown Point, Indiana, where he later escaped.
New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images
John Dillinger as he looked while being taken from Tuscon, Arizona to Crown Point, Indiana, where he later escaped.
CNN —  

Is the notorious American gangster John Dillinger really buried at a cemetery in Indiana? That’s the question his relatives want answered.

But now their plans to exhume his body have hit a roadblock.

Mike and Carol Thompson, Dillinger’s nephew and niece, respectively, filed for a permit to exhume his body in July with the Indiana State Department of Health.

In the affidavit for the permit, they cited that they have evidence the person shot at the Biograph Theater in Chicago on July 22, 1934, “may not in fact have been” Dillinger. They planned on exhuming his body to conduct DNA tests and then re-inter into the grave site.

Dillinger's grave site.
Dillinger's grave site.

The permit was granted by the department of health and it was set that Dillinger would be exhumed on September 16 at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.

The History Channel was even set to film the exhumation as part of a documentary.

Now less than a week from the dig, a lawsuit filed by Mike Thompson against the cemetery is halting the project.

Last Wednesday, Thompson’s lawyer filed a proposed motion with the Marion County court saying that the cemetery is not to interfere with plans to exhume Dillinger. A hearing in that case is set for October 1, weeks past the permitted date set by the state.

“Per the approved application, if the exhumation does occur, it must occur on Sept. 16,” Megan Wade-Taxter with the Indiana State Department of Health told CNN.

CNN reached out to Crown Hill Cemetery for comment but one wasn’t immediately available.

In a statement to the IndyStar on August 14, the cemetery stated that they object to the exhumation and that they have a duty to protect the integrity of the cemetery.

Dillinger conspiracy drama

Born in Indianapolis in 1903, Dillinger was a “notorious and vicious thief” who ran a gang that terrorized the Midwest from 1933 to 1934, the FBI says. The Dillinger gang killed at least 10 people and staged violent robberies of banks and police arsenals and three jailbreaks, according to the FBI.

Dillinger, also known as America’s first “Public Enemy No. 1,” was awaiting trial on murder charges when he escaped prison. He died July 22, 1934, in Chicago. As he left a movie with his girlfriend, authorities spotted him and attempted to apprehend him, according to the FBI. Dillinger reached for a pistol and was shot and killed by FBI agents, according to the FBI.

In a string of tweets last month, the FBI’s Chicago office disputed conspiracy theories that agents killed another man which is what the Thompsons alleged in their affidavits to receive the permit.

“A wealth of information supports Dillinger’s demise including 3 sets of fingerprints, all positively matched,” the FBI tweeted.

The agency posted an image of the fingerprints collected with a link to the FBI’s records website where they say thousands of pages of evidence and information on Dillinger’s case is available for public viewing.

The Thompsons disagree with this information and stated in court affidavits that several of the man’s physical attributes, including eye color, fingerprints, anterior teeth, ears and head shape, did not match Dillinger’s.

Is there another date set?

With this current exhumation on hold, will there be future plans to conduct the DNA testing?

Thompson told CNN via email that he “can’t comment at this time.”

“We have not received any other applications for another date of exhumation,” Wade-Taxter said Tuesday.

CNN reached out to The History Channel for comment but one wasn’t immediately available. Dan Silberman, a spokesman for the History Channel, told CNN affiliate WLS “There are no plans for an exhumation on Sept. 16. As of now, there is nothing planned.”

CNN’s Michelle Lou contributed to this report.