Man arrested for setting Christmas wreaths on fire at Hagerstown cemetery

A Pennsylvania man has been arrested in Hagerstown for setting multiple Christmas wreaths on fire at a cemetery, fire marshals say.

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Witnesses called 911 just after 1:00 a.m., after driving by Cedar Lawn Memorial Park in Hagerstown and saw Peter J. Custer, 43, standing by a fire. 

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

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Custer is charged with Second Degree Malicious Burning, Malicious Destruction of Property Under $1,000, and Trespassing on Private Property. 

Investigators could not determine the exact plot where each wreath had been taken. During his arrest, Custer referenced that he was trying to save the earth and that plastic wreaths were non-biodegradable. 

"This desecration at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park is morally wrong. Disturbing final resting places is contemptible, criminal and will not be tolerated," stated State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci. 


Custer was transported to Washington County Detention Center and later released on his own recognizance after appearing before a District Court Commissioner.