By Rob McIlvaineJune 29, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 29, 2011) -- The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and the FBI are now looking into possible wrongdoing involving past burials and contracts at Arlington National Cemetery.
At a press conference outside the Arlington National Cemetery Visitors Center Wednesday, a CID spokesman said that his agency will continue to lead the investigation, but confirmed that CID asked for FBI assistance and is currently working jointly with the FBI into possible criminal activity at the cemetery.
“These criminal activities include the burial of eight sets of cremated remains in one single location at the cemetery, improper burial reservations and possible contract fraud,” said Chris Grey, CID chief of Public Affairs.
Concerning these investigations, Grey said he cannot discuss any possible, future legal proceedings.
“It’s critical to point out that the investigative activity ongoing today does not include the current administration for the cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery personnel or their activities,” said Grey, adding that CID has been conducting investigations into several allegations involving personnel and activities at Arlington National Cemetery since October 2010 at the Army’s request.
In regard to the eight sets of cremated human remains, he said CID in coordination with Arlington National Cemetery, was able to identify three of the cremated remains and Arlington National Cemetery personnel have notified family members. Two of the three sets of those remains have been re-interred at the family’s request.
“With the assistance of a forensic anthropologist, one set of the eight cremated remains was positively identified as an unknown and will remain as such. And after extensive efforts, CID has determined that the other three sets of remains, unfortunately, cannot be identified.
“CID is still investigating and working hard to determine the identity of one set of remaining cremated remains,” Grey said.
The discovery of multiple urns in one grave, he said, has been determined by an assistant U.S. attorney as not constituting a criminal violation.
“But our investigations are still open,” he said.
More recently, though, 69 boxes of records related to ANC were found in a storage facility in Falls Church, Va.
“Sixty-eight boxes were duplicate copies of existing records and Army CID kept one box containing contract-related information. At this point, CID does not have any indication that the contents of those boxes are linked to any criminality or breach of contract and is not related to any ongoing contract inquiry,” Grey said.
CID, he said, along with the senior Army leadership -- to include the secretary of the Army and the new cemetery management -- takes these issues very seriously and are fully committed to investigating all allegations and evidence that might come to light concerning the "nation’s most hallowed ground."
Asked how long the investigation will take, Grey said, “This investigation will go wherever the leads take us (and we won’t stop) until we get to the truth.”
Arlington National Cemetery has been fully operational since May 1864 and currently conducts an average of 27 funerals each workday.
One year ago, an investigation by the Army Inspector General revealed several issues that the new leadership team has addressed.
Since then the cemetery management has employed new chain of custody procedures, implemented a financial management system and contracting process, rebuilt the workforce, overhauled the automated interment scheduling system and improved the facilities and infrastructure on the grounds of the cemetery.