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No timetable yet to remove Wagner's ashes

November 30, 1999|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

The U.S. Army is aware of a new order to evict a Hagerstown murderer's remains from Arlington (Va.) National Cemetery, but has no timetable yet for removing them, an Army spokesman said Thursday.

Lt. Col. William Wiggins said it will take time to work out the details of removing Russell Wayne Wagner's ashes.

Wiggins said the Army typically assigns a casualty assistance officer to work with a family after a soldier dies, and might do the same thing in this case. He didn't know if Wagner's family had been contacted yet.

The veterans' bill that President Bush signed into law Dec. 22 orders the secretary of the Army to have Wagner's ashes taken out of the cemetery, but it doesn't specify when.

Jeff Schrade, a spokesman for Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said in an e-mail on Thursday that people who might know more about the situation had the day off.

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Craig had the Wagner provision nestled into a $3.2 billion veterans' health care and benefits package. The Senate and the House of Representatives passed identical versions of the bill in the final hours of Congress' 2006 session.

An Arlington National Cemetery spokeswoman was not available this week. A woman who answered a phone at the cemetery said no one else would talk about the matter.

Other Army officials said arrangements for President Ford's funeral have been a higher priority this week.

Wagner was convicted in August 2002 of murdering Daniel and Wilda Davis in their home on West Wilson Boulevard in Hagerstown.

Wagner was serving consecutive life sentences when he died of a heroin overdose in prison in 2005. His sister had his ashes placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

Because he was honorably discharged from the Army in 1972, Wagner qualified to have his remains at the cemetery.

Vernon Davis, the son of Daniel and Wilda Davis, has fought to have Wagner's remains removed.

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