Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, housing the remains of some 200,000 souls from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor. That’s the way it was meant to be. At the dedication of the cemetery, former Senator Albert S. White said the cemetery would be for “the rich and the poor, the proud and the humble, alike may enter here.” People from all walks of life are buried there from the homeless to a United States President—to John Dillinger, the infamous gangster.
This year Dillinger’s remains may be moved to a new location in Crown Hill—or they may not. However the legal battle shakes out, it’s hard to find a boring spot in this Indiana cemetery.
Presidents, Poets, and Pittsburgh Expats
The most asked for grave in Crown Hill is that of John Dillinger, the famous bank robber of the 1930s. He was born in a middle-class Indianapolis neighborhood on June 22, 1903. He was killed by federal agents at 10:40 p.m. on the night of Sunday, July 22, 1934, in an alley outside the Biograph Theatre in Chicago. Some 15,000 people went to his wake. He was buried in Crown Hill three days later and a couple of days after that an elaborate protection of concrete mixed with scrap iron and chicken wire was placed at staggered levels above the coffin to protect the grave from any attempt to vandalize it.
His grave is located in Section 44, Lot 94 in a family plot. But there have always been conspiracy theories that Dillinger was not the person buried that day—and that’s why some of his family members are trying to exhume and test the body, despite the protests of Crown Hill.