Mikulski Calls For Review Of Military Burial Honors For Convicted Murders - Southern Maryland Headline News

Mikulski Calls For Review Of Military Burial Honors For Convicted Murders


r national cemeteries are places of national honor for those who have served their country and fellow citizens. Convicted murderers should not be allowed in their hallowed grounds."

Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) released a letter today sent to Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Chairman and Ranking member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, urging them to follow up on the controversial burial of Russell Wagner in Arlington National Cemetery.

Wagner was convicted of stabbing to death two elderly residents of Hagerstown, MD, and was sentenced to two life sentences. While serving his sentence in prison, he died from a heroin overdose. Despite his conviction and heinous crime, he was given full military honors at his Arlington burial on July 27, 2005.

"Our national cemeteries are places of national honor for those who have served their country and fellow citizens. Convicted murderers should not be allowed in their hallowed grounds," said Senator Mikulski.

The full text of the letter follows:

August 11, 2005

The Honorable Larry E. Craig Chairman Committee on Veterans' Affairs 412 Senate Russell Building Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka Ranking Member Committee on Veterans' Affairs 412 Senate Russell Building Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Craig and Ranking Member Akaka;

A tragic and troubling circumstance regarding our national cemeteries has come to my attention and I wanted to bring it to your immediate attention.

The remains of a convicted cold-blooded murderer sentenced to two life sentences for his crimes were placed at Arlington National Cemetery on July 27, 2005. Our national cemeteries are places of national honor for those who have served their country and fellow citizens. Convicted murderers should not be allowed in the hallowed grounds of our national cemeteries.

As widely reported, a Russell Wagner was convicted of stabbing to death two elderly residents of Hagerstown, Maryland, Daniel Davis, 84, and his wife, Wilda Davis, 80. He was sentenced to two life sentences for these unspeakable crimes. While serving his sentence in prison, Wagner died from a heroin overdose. After all this, his remains were placed in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

The family of Mr. and Mrs. Davis has contacted me about these very disturbing circumstances. The people of Maryland are agitated about this, as am I. We find this all very troubling.

I understand that a law was passed in 1997 to prevent convicted murderers like the Oklahoma City bomber from being buried in our national cemeteries. I was shocked to learn that this law didn't apply here because the two life sentences left open the possibility of parole.


I would appreciate it if you would look into the circumstances under which convicted murderers are allowed to be buried in our national cemeteries. I look forward to your recommendations.

Sincerely,

Barbara A. Mikulski United States Senator

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