Pennsylvania man arrested for burning wreaths at Hagerstown cemetery

Deputy Maryland Fire Marshals arrested a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania man early on the morning of Christmas Eve for burning holiday wreaths at a Hagerstown, Maryland cemetery.

When questioned, Peter Custer, 43, said he took the wreaths because he was trying to save the Earth and that plastic wreaths were nonbiodegradable, according to a release posted by the Maryland Fire Marshal.

Custer was charged with second degree malicious burning, destruction of property and trespassing for burning wreaths from three or more cemetery plots at Cedar Lawn Memorial Park.

Drivers called 911 just after 1 a.m. when they saw a man standing by a fire on one of the cemetery’s access roads, according to fire marshals.

Investigators from the fire marshal and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office investigated, but could not find out which graves the wreaths came from.

“Disturbing final resting places is contemptible, criminal and will not be tolerated,” Marshal Brian S. Geraci said in a statement.

Authorities took Custer to the Washington County Detention Center. He was later released after appearing before a District Court commissioner.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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