The cremated remains of a former Navy lieutenant, executed in 1993 for the brutal murder of a female officer, are likely to be removed from Arlington National Cemetery, according to a provision quietly tucked into the military’s budget for next year.
It’s the result of a several-years-long veteran-led campaign to relocate the killer’s ashes, which was ignored and rebuffed by the cemetery and Pentagon before finding a sympathetic congresswoman, the Washington Post reported.
Lt. Andrew Chabrol was executed via electric chair for the 1991 kidnap, rape and murder of Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa Harrington, who had reported him for sexual harassment. He blamed Harrington for ruining his career and marriage, and plotted his revenge in a journal where he called her “Nemesis.”
He tied Harrington to a bed, wrapped her head in duct tape and strangled her with a rope. Since then, his remains have been kept in a vault at the U.S.’ premier military cemetery.
Now nearly 30 years after his death, a short section of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2023 is requiring him to be relocated. The House of Representatives passed the NDAA last week, and the Senate is expected to approve it this week, putting it in President Joe Biden’s hands.
The provision requires Chabrol’s remains to be disinterred and handed over to his next-of-kin – or else disposed of “as the Secretary of the Army determines appropriate” – by Sept. 30. It faced no objections when it was added to the NDAA by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), who said Chabrol “has no place in that cemetery,” the Post reported.
Speier’s addition to the NDAA followed years of efforts by Judi Farmer, a Navy veteran who discovered Harrington’s case in 2018 and set out to honor her memory by removing her killer from his honorable resting place.
“Her friends that mourn her, and husband that mourns her, can know that [Chabrol] won’t get a flag every Memorial Day, he won’t get a wreath on Christmas. He won’t be honored,” Farmer said of the possibility Chabrol would be disinterred.
The Post reported that Farmer started an online petition, wrote a letter to Arlington that was ignored, and wrote another letter to the Pentagon, which said it had no legal authority to disinter death-penalty-eligible offenders buried prior to the passage of a 2013 burial review law.
Speier has also introduced a law that would allow reconsideration of national cemetery burials as old as 1990 in cases where veterans were convicted of death-penalty-eligible crimes, the Post reported.