Man arrested for setting Christmas wreaths on fire at Hagerstown Cemetery


A Pennsylvania man has been arrested in Hagerstown for setting fire to several Christmas wreaths in a cemetery, firefighters say.

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Witnesses called 911 just after 1 a.m. after driving near Cedar Lawn Memorial Park in Hagerstown and saw Peter J. Custer, 43, standing by a fire.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal’s Office responded and concluded that Custer took plastic wreaths from three or more burial sites, placed them on an access road and had intentionally set the crowns on fire.

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Custer is charged with second degree arson, malicious destruction of property under $ 1,000 and trespassing on private property.

Investigators could not determine the exact plot where each wreath was taken. During his arrest, Custer said he was trying to save the earth and that plastic crowns were not biodegradable.

“This desecration at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park is morally wrong. To disturb the final resting places is despicable, criminal and will not be tolerated,” said State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.


Custer was transported to the Washington County Detention Center and later released on his own recognizance after appearing before a district court commissioner.


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