November 19, 2022

Pennsylvania man charged with stealing, burning wreaths in Maryland cemetery to “save the earth”

Authorities in Maryland on Friday arrested a Pennsylvania man accused of stealing and burning wreaths in a Hagerstown cemetery.

According to the Maryland State Fire Marshal, witnesses called 911 after seeing Peter J. Custer, 43, standing near a fire as they drove past Cedar Hill Memorial Park just after 1 a.m.

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The Washington County Sheriff’s Office and the State Fire Marshal said Custer “has indicated he’s trying to save the earth and plastic crowns are not biodegradable.”

Wreaths Across America at Indiantown Gap National Cemetery Volunteers laid nearly 30,000 wreaths throughout the cemetery today. (Photo by MediaNews Group / Reading Eagle via Getty Images)

Custer is accused of taking wreaths from several burial sites, placing them on an access road and setting them on fire, authorities said.

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

The 43-year-old has been charged with arson, malicious destruction of property and trespassing. He was taken into police custody but was later released “on his own accord after appearing before a district court commissioner,” according to the fire marshal.