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Snook offers burial plot for killer's ashes

September 01, 2005|by TARA REILLY

WILLIAMSPORT

tarar@herald-mail.com

A Washington County Commissioner has offered space at his Williamsport cemetery for the ashes of convicted double-murderer Russell Wayne Wagner, should Wagner's family want the remains moved from Arlington National Cemetery.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said Wednesday he made the offer about three weeks ago after controversy arose surrounding the acceptance of Wagner's ashes at a national cemetery.

The ashes would be placed at Snook's Greenlawn Cemetery for no charge should Wagner's family decide to do so, Snook said.

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He made the offer after being contacted by a man who has spoken with Wagner's sister, Snook said.

Snook said he made the decision so Wagner's family "could have a place for a loved one."

The man - Snook didn't remember his name - was supposed to contact Wagner's sister and inform her of Snook's offer, Snook said.

Snook said he has not yet heard from Wagner's family.

Wagner was convicted of murdering Daniel Davis, 84, and Wilda Davis, 80, of Hagerstown, in their West Wilson Boulevard home in 1994.

He was sentenced to consecutive life terms in 2002.

He died in prison in February as a result of heroin intoxication.

Wagner served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1972 and was honorably discharged. At his sister's request, his ashes were placed in an urn at Arlington National Cemetery in July with standard military honors.

A U.S. Army spokeswoman told The Herald-Mail last month the ashes were properly placed and would remain there, despite objections from the victims' family and several veterans.

State and federal elected officials have spoken out against Wagner's remains being at Arlington National Cemetery, and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee is investigating the placement.

On Tuesday, veteran Ed Davis submitted to the Washington County Commissioners a petition bearing the signatures of more than 400 veterans asking the commissioners to support changes to Arlington National Cemetery's policy.

"We want you to represent us now to let us know the county is behind the veterans." Davis told the commissioners.

He said he was representing more than 1,700 veterans in Washington County.

Davis said some veterans are talking about not be buried at Arlington National Cemetery because of its policy.

"They don't want to be buried there, and I don't blame them one bit," he said.

Commissioner John C. Munson, a veteran, signed the petition at Tuesday's meeting.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said Wednesday the signatures on the petition were all from local veterans.

Snook said he wasn't anticipating receiving any criticism should Wagner's family want his ashes at his cemetery.

"Mine's not anything like Arlington Cemetery," Snook said. "It's basically a community cemetery here."

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