The body of notorious 1930s gangster John Dillinger is expected to be exhumed in September from a concrete-encased grave at an Indianapolis cemetery more than 85 years after he was killed by FBI agents outside a Chicago theater. The famous gangster's casket is assumed, by some, to be empty. The exhumation will aim to put the conspiracy to rest by proving that Dillinger's body is inside.
|Body of John Dillinger lying under sheet on table in morgue, 1934.|
The process may be difficult, though, because of a concrete barrier that was put above Dillinger’s casket a few days after his initial burial. This was a decision by Dillinger’s father to prevent grave robbers and vandalism of the public figure.
The exhumation is tentatively expected to happen on September 16 in the Crown Hill Cemetery. It’s been formally approved by a family member of Dillinger, his nephew Michael C. Thompson.
|John Dillinger will be exhumed and reburied at Crown Hill Cemetery on Sept. 16, 2019.|
The wild conspiracy theory says that Dillinger’s father really had the concrete barrier placed above the grave for this very moment: a movement to exhume Dillinger’s body. The theory, which has never been proven and is nothing more than rumor today, explains that Dillinger was not actually killed by an FBI agent in Chicago. Instead, a duplicate was killed in a trick by Dillinger, and he lived on with no further conflict.
While there’s seemingly nothing to prove this theory, it’s become a big enough thought by many American true crime fans, that exhuming the grave may be the best way to prove that the person inside the casket is, in fact, Dillinger.
Dillinger’s story has been told and retold ever since—including in a Hollywood movie. Along the way, fact and fiction have often been blended together. Here are the top ten myths surrounding Dillinger.
|Nine images showing the face of John Dillinger as it changed over the years.|
Myth #1: John Dillinger Was Not Killed at the Biograph Theater, a Stand-in Was.
If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, that’s because it is. Claims that a man resembling Dillinger was actually killed have been advanced with only circumstantial evidence. On the other hand, a wealth of information supports Dillinger’s demise. Special Agents M. Chaffetz and Earle Richmond, for example, took two sets of fingerprints from the body outside the Biograph Theater, and both were a positive match. Another set taken during the autopsy were also a match.
Myth #2: Dillinger Was Not Carrying a Gun the Night He Was Killed.
Dillinger did have a gun on him—a .380 Colt automatic with the serial number scratched out. He reached for that gun when Bureau agents cornered him that fateful night. Not taking any chances, agents shot him before he had the chance to open fire.
Myth #3: The FBI Beat Up Evelyn Frechette After Her Arrest.
Not so. Evelyn “Billie” Frechette—Dillinger’s one time girlfriend—was captured on April 9, 1934 and detained in FBI Chicago Field Office. She was interrogated about Dillinger around the clock for two days under hot lights. She refused to cooperate and was transferred to St. Paul to stand trail for harboring Dillinger. While her interrogation wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, at no time did agents attack or strike her. Frechette and her lawyer claimed the FBI did during the trail—most likely to win sympathy.
Myth #4: The FBI Took Physical Specimens From Dillinger’s Corpse.
There is no evidence suggesting that the Bureau kept “souvenirs” from Dillinger’s body or in any way desecrated his remains. According to media reports, however, the local coroner later admitted taking pieces of Dillinger’s brain to examine.
Myth #5: East Chicago, Indiana Police Killed Dillinger, Not FBI Agents.
While East Chicago Police officers were instrumental in helping the Bureau track down Dillinger the night he died, they were not in a position to shoot him. According to the drawn-up plans of the takedown and individual testimony, all of these officers were too far away to have an unobstructed shot. The closest—Captain Timothy O’Neil—was stationed across the street; his line of fire would have been blocked by special agents and civilians. In the end, it was Bureau agents who shot and killed Dillinger. Claims that someone else pulled the trigger came much later.
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