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Marshal: Man burned cemetery Christmas wreaths because they were "non-biodegradable"

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Posted at 1:24 PM, Dec 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-24 13:25:11-05

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — A Pennsylvania man is accused of lighting several wreaths on fire at a Hagerstown cemetery on Christmas Eve.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal has charged 43-year-old Peter J. Custer with Second Degree Malicious Burning, Malicious Destruction of Property, and Trespassing.

Around 1am, witnesses reported driving by Cedar Lawn Memorial Park and seeing a man believed to be Custer standing by a fire.

Investigators say Custer took plastic wreaths from at least three burial plots, and placed them on an access road, where he intentionally set them on fire.

Custer allegedly told detectives he was trying to save the earth and claimed 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," said State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.

Custer has been released on his own recognizance, pending trial.