Will gangster John Dillinger's bones stay undisturbed after kin drop exhumation lawsuit?

The much touted and debated plan to dig up gangster John Dillinger's remains has ended without a grain of dirt displaced.

What began last summer as a made-for-TV effort to unearth the former fugitive, and then became a court fight, finally fizzled out this week when some Dillinger family members dropped their lawsuit against an Indianapolis cemetery where Dillinger's grave has existed for more than 85 years.

The outlaw was shot and killed by federal agents outside Chicago's Biograph Theatre on July 22, 1934. He was an infamous bank robber.

A notorious conspiracy theory suggests that federal investigators were so hungry to lower the curtain on Dillinger that they shot and killed another man, whose remains have been buried in the grave for decades. Cook County morgue and FBI officials have vehemently denied such allegations and have said that incontrovertible evidence proves it was -- and is -- Dillinger.

Dillinger family members who sued Crown Hill Cemetery wanted the remains for DNA testing to determine whether it was an imposter corpse, as they seem to believe.

"I just want the answers for the truth," said Dillinger's nephew Michael Thompson at a recent court date.

"All these years there's been rumors," Thompson said.

Now though, with Thompson pulling the plug on his own lawsuit, the resolution he was seeking may remain elusive.

"We are pleased the matter is now closed," said cemetery officials who had thrown a wrench into the works for Dillinger's kinfolk by opposing the exhumation for fear it would create a spectacle.

"We continue to maintain our right to deny the exhumation out of respect for the decedent's family and to protect Crown Hill Cemetery from unnecessary disturbance," said the facility management.

Even though the cemetery claims the case is closed, that isn't legally so.

"This Dismissal 'Without Prejudice' allows the family to re-file the action in the future," according to Andrea R. Simmons, an attorney representing Dillinger's nephew. Simmons declined to reveal to the ABC7 I-Team whether they actually plan to file a new challenge to the Indiana law that allowed a judge to block exhumation.

Thompson had originally obtained a state permit to dig up the remains from Dillinger's grave last September.

When the cemetery blocked the exhumation request and that date passed, family members obtained a fresh permit for New Year's Eve. In early December, a Marion County judge ruled against allowing that to go forward.

Thompson had planned to appeal or file a new action. But instead this week, Thompson filed a motion to dismiss his own case.

The judge approved it, with the caveat that Thompson could refile in the future.
Copyright © 2020 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.