More Remains Misplaced at ArlingtonDecember 2, 2010 - 7:51 PM | by: Justin Fishel
WASHINGTON – The Army has opened a criminal investigation after revelations that eight sets of cremated remains were buried under a single headstone labeled “unknown” at Arlington National Cemetery.
The discovery was a result of an investigation of suspicious practices following a series of stories on misplaced graves by WTOP radio this summer, according to Army spokesman Gary Tallman.
It also follows a critical report by the Army’s Inspector General that found widespread problems at the cemetery and resulted in the dismissal of the cemetery’s superintendent, Jack Metzler and his deputy Thurman Higginbotham.
The Army has identified three of the remains and notified those families. One set of remains cannot be identified, and four others are still being investigated.
Christopher Grey, a spokesman for Army Criminal Investigation Command, said “this is not likely a mistake” and that the situation “demanded an investigation to determine if there’s any criminality involved in the burials.”
Kaitlin Horst, a spokesman for Arlington National Cemetery released the following statement Thursday:
“In late October, the Executive Director of the Army National Cemeteries Program, Kathryn Condon, became aware of questionable practices that took place at Arlington National Cemetery and requested that the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command open an investigation into allegations involving multiple burials of cremated remains in a single location.
Upon further investigation, eight sets of cremated remains were discovered to be buried in a single gravesite marked with an ‘unknown’ headstone. Cemetery records reflected there was only one set of cremated remains interred in that location.
At this time, three sets of cremated remains have been identified through the work of Army CID Special Agents and cemetery officials. Officials from Arlington National Cemetery are in the process of notifying the families.
One set of cremated remains was unable to be positively identified and was re-interred in the original grave site marked with an ‘unknown’ headstone. A forensic anthropologist was brought in to assist in that determination.
CID Special Agents are continuing to work to identify the other sets of cremated remains.
This is an ongoing investigation and all information and evidence concerning improper or illegal burials will be considered by the CID. The leadership of Arlington National Cemetery and the Army take these matters seriously and are fully committed to taking the necessary actions to restore the integrity of Arlington National Cemetery.”