Outlaw John Dillinger would rest in peace if cemetery has way

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Not so fast.

An Indiana cemetery is now balking at a plan to dig up John Dillinger's grave site, the ABC7 I-Team has learned.

"Crown Hill objects to the exhumation of John Dillinger," said cemetery management in a statement to the I-Team on Wednesday afternoon.

A bullet-riddled body, long said to be that of the gangster Dillinger, has been buried at Crown Hill since just after the FBI cut him down in a Chicago alleyway more than 85 years ago. Public Enemy No. 1 of America's Great Depression-era had just left the Biograph Theatre on Chicago's Northside. He was killed by FBI agents on July 22, 1934.

There was a public relations storm last month by some Dillinger family members and the History Channel, which is sponsoring the exhumation, aimed at obtaining DNA to verify the remains are those of the criminal.

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"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," cemetery management said.

As the I-Team first reported last month, even without the cemetery's blessing, exhumation was not a done deal. Not all required state government agencies had signed off on the plan.

And now, according to cemetery officials, there is disagreement even within the late gangster's own family.

"We received notice that not all of Mr. Dillinger's next of kin agree with the exhumation," cemetery officials said. "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."

RELATED: FBI in Chicago has been battling Dillinger rumors for decades

In an interview with the I-Team a decade ago, one Dillinger nephew and the family historian said that he was certain the remains were that of his great uncle.

A spokesperson for the History Channel tonight tells the I-Team they have no information about how or if this cemetery development will affect exhumation plans. That cable channel is partially owned by the Walt Disney company that also owns ABC7 Chicago.

Full statement from cemetery to ABC7 I-Team:

"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."
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