Last month we brought you this story that pertained to the exhumation of a legendary bank robber who was at one time known as “Public Enemy #1”. We refer to the life and death of John Dillinger and his eventual burial at the Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana.
We told you last month that relatives of Mr. Dillinger have reason to believe and have signed an affidavit that cites, “that they have evidence the person shot at the Biograph Theatre in Chicago on July 22, 1934, may not have been Dillinger.” They planned on exhuming the body and conducting DNA tests on that point. In conjunction with that, the Indiana State Department of Health issued a permit for the exhumation to take place on September 16.
However, here is where it gets a little murky. On August 14 the Crown Hill Cemetery objected to the exhumation because they believed that this exhumation, with the expected media attention, including the History Channel’s documentary on such, would not be in keeping with the tranquil operation of a cemetery.
The Dillinger relatives then filed a lawsuit against the cemetery for halting the project and asking them not to interfere with the project. The problem with that lawsuit is that it is expected to have its first hearing on October 1. . . two weeks after the exhumation is to have occurred.
And now, the Indiana State Department of Health has said that per the exhumation permit, it must be done on September 16 or not at all.
You can read about these events here.
Funeral Director Daily take: While the parties in this case are going around a little bit as to the conflict with date of the project and the court schedules, I see a bigger issue taking up residence here.
First of all, I understand the Dillinger family wanting to do this. . . it is their relative. . . . and whether for the fact of knowing the fact or the fact of being able to “sell” the event for a filmed spectacle (of which I don’t know is being done) they believe that they have the right to do so.
On the other hand, Crown Hill Cemetery believes it has the right to present all families of those that have relatives in the cemetery, and maybe just the public, to a quiet, tranquil operation of the cemetery. They believe that is their duty.
So, do you see a case evolving here as to whose cemetery is it?
I would guess that the founding documents authorize a board to operate the cemetery. However, it is not out of the realm of reason that their (the cemetery board) boundaries may not disable a family’s desire for exhumation. . . . even if there is a profit point to the exhumation. Our courts will probably decide this issue. . . . stay tuned!!