Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Bill passed to disinter veteran from Fort Custer cemetery

Dec. 11, 2013 - 06:52PM   |  
  • Filed Under

A bill ordering removal of an accused murderer’s remains from a Michigan cemetery passed the House on Wednesday and is on its way to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

Called the Alicia Down Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act, the bill creates a new process in law to remove remains of someone believed to have committed murder but never convicted because they avoided prosecution. It would apply to burials, cremated remains and memorial markers.

The bill primarily applies to future cases in the unusual situation where someone is never convicted and maybe never even charged because they died or fled arrest.

However, the measure directly addresses accused murderer and Afghanistan veteran Michael L. Anderson, who was buried in 2012 at the Fort Custer National Cemetery in Michigan days after a shooting spree at an Indianapolis apartment complex where Anderson allegedly murdered a woman and shot three others before killing himself.

The bill is named for his victim.

According to Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ill., the chief sponsor of the bill, VA officials knew nothing of the Army veteran’s alleged involvement in the shooting when he was buried. If they had, there are procedures in law that could have prevented the burial, Coats said, but there is no process to remove remains once buried.

Under a new process, cemeteries would reconsider interment decisions if federal officials are presented with “clear and convincing evidence” that a veteran was convicted of a capital crime or committed a capital crime but was not convicted because they were not tried as a result of death or flight from prosecution.

The rule would apply at veterans’ national cemeteries and at Arlington National Cemetery, and could lead to removal of remains as well as memorial headstones or markers.

Before disinterment, the veterans’ next of kin would be given a chance to appeal the decision. If there is no next of kin or the next of kin chooses not to be involved, the cemetery would be responsible for reburial at another location.

The new process would apply to burials or the placing of memorial headstones and markers after the bill becomes law, with one exception: Michael L. Anderson. The bill would order his remains to be removed from the Fort Custer cemetery.

His next of kin could claim the remains for burial elsewhere, or the VA will “arrange for an appropriate disposition,” the bill language states.

“For the sake not only of the victims and their families but also the memory of veterans who conducted themselves during and after military service with honor befitting of a national cemetery burial, capital offenders do not belong in our military cemeteries,” said Jeff Miller, R-Fla., the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee chairman.

The bill gives cemetery leaders “all of the tools needed to take out of our national cemeteries those who have sullied their military service through their own heinous actions,” Miller said.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

More force-outs
Army expands involuntary separations of problem NCOs

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        Apr 23, 2014 4:14 PM
   Last Post: Stalwart
        Apr 23, 2014 12:27 PM
San Antonio shooting
(10 replies)
   Last Post: Measure Man
        Apr 22, 2014 3:34 PM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook