Christopher Capone on Thursday laid the legal groundwork to get DNA samples that he hopes will prove Al Capone is his grandfather.
Capone, formerly Christopher Knight, has tried without success to obtain DNA samples from known male descendants of the man known as "Scarface."
But the 37-year-old says if he's not able to do so, he may request exhumation of the mobster's remains from Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery in the Chicago suburb of Hillside.
Chicago attorney David M. Hundley filed a legal motion on behalf of Capone in Cook County Circuit Court on Thursday. He asks that the cemetery and the Archdiocese of Chicago guarantee Al Capone's body remains undisturbed pending possible disinterment.
"He hopes to proceed through less invasive means, but wants to keep disinterment as a possible option should those fail," said Hundley, who compared his client's quest to a search for birth parents by a person who suddenly learns that he or she has been adopted.
Capone's Boston publicist, Jeremy Marin, said his client never knew his paternal grandparents, and that his father, William Knight, told his son conflicting stories about his parentage before his death in 1984.
Capone, author of "Son of Scarface: A Memoir by the Grandson of Al Capone," maintains that he learned about the alleged connection with Al Capone from one of his father's friends after Knight's funeral.
Knight's age at death was listed as 59, which would have meant Al Capone was 16 and still living in his native Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was born. But William Knight's birth certificate is known to be a forgery, meaning his true age is unknown, Marin said.
Al Capone, his mind ravaged by syphilis, suffered a stroke and died of cardiac arrest in 1947. He was first buried in a Chicago cemetery, but his body was transferred to Mount Carmel three years later.