The body of famous Chicago gangster and bank robber John Dillinger will be exhumed from an Indiana cemetery for an upcoming "History" network special.
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A Great Depression-era folk hero, Dillinger conjured a Robin Hood image through his and his gang’s rise as their neighbors defaulted on their bank debts, stashing whatever they had left in mattresses, and Americans lost homes and farms to foreclosure. Dillinger was notoriously gunned down outside of Chicago’s Biograph movie theater in 1934, after betrayal by his lover, the so-called Lady in Red, who was believed to be a prostitute.
Dillinger has remained an urban legend who outsmarted authorities, escaping from jail in 1934 and evading capture for months. This gave life to rumors that he got a facelift and burned off his fingerprints with hydrochloric acid, even faked his own death, to avoid imprisonment. He allegedly paid $5,000 to underworld plastic surgeons Wilhelm Loeser and Harold Bernard Cassidy to restructure his face.
Born in 1903 in Indianapolis, Dillinger served eight-and-a-half years for assault and battery with attempt to rob, until he was released on parole in 1933. Hours after his release, he robbed yet another bank. Dillinger’s name made famous again when Johnny Depp played him in the 2009 "Public Enemies."
But just how much money did this robber steal?
According to the History network, Dillinger and his loyalists robbed a dozen banks, nabbing $500,000, or $7 million adjusted for inflation. This, however, does not include the early restaurant and grocery store stickups he profited from before he graduated to banks.
Allegedly, the FBI made several efforts to catch him. According to conservative Associated Press estimates, the FBI spent around $2 million on the manhunt and dedicated whole units just to catching Dillinger. His eventual capture helped solidify the crime unit that still operates today.
His reign came to an end when the reward for his arrest climbed to $25,000 and his girlfriend’s Romanian-born madame was offered the reward money and protection from deportation if she told the FBI of Dillinger's whereabouts.
The Indianapolis Star reported that Michael C. Thompson, Dillinger’s nephew, applied to the Indiana Department of Health for a permit to exhume Dillinger’s body, a request that was approved on July 3. The department provided few details about the reason for the exhumation, but a History network representative confirmed to "Rolling Stone" that it would be part of an upcoming documentary.
Concerns that grave robbers would disturb the infamous gangster led Dillinger’s family to encase his casket in concrete. The Health Department will drill through the concrete and exhume the body on Sept. 16, and he will be reinterred that same day.
There is no date set for History special’s premiere yet.