Remains Of Deceased Navy Officer Convicted Of Rape And Murder Face Removal From Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery Washington DC USA
Tetra Images via Getty Images

A former Navy officer who raped, tortured, and murdered a junior sailor may have his remains unearthed from the Arlington National Cemetery by next year under a proposed amendment to the annual defense budget bill.

Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) submitted a proposal during the House Armed Services Committee meeting last week that would direct the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs to remove the remains of Andrew J. Chabrol from the nation’s largest military cemetery no later than September 30, 2023, The Washington Post reported.

The proposal says unless officials can find relatives of Chabrol, the Secretary of the Army would dispose of them as deemed appropriate.

In 1991, the Associated Press reported, the Virginia Supreme Court convicted Chabrol of rape and murder of Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa Harrington, a 27-year-old enlisted sailor in Chabrol’s Virginia Beach Navy unit in his Chesapeake home.

Chabrol pursued a romantic relationship with Harrington, who was married at the time of her death.

Despite Chabrol’s attempts, the Associated Press reported, Harrington denied his advances and complained to his superior, damaging his career and ruining his marriage.

Six months before murdering Harrington, he left the Navy and began plotting his revenge against her using a computer journal.

In the journal, he referred to Harrington as “Nemesis.”

Chabrol recruited Stanley J. Berkeley to abduct Harrington from her Virginia Beach home, where he strapped her to a bed, wrapped duct-taped around her head, and raped her before strangling her to death with a rope.

“I just went berserk,” Chabrol said at his trial.

He pleaded guilty.

Two years later, Chabrol died by execution in Virginia’s electric chair at 36 years old.

Nearly three decades later, a Navy veteran named Judi Farmer discovered Harrington’s story only to learn that Chabrol’s remains were buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Farmer wrote two letters and created an online petition asking the cemetery to remove Chabrol’s remains.

Still, officials responded by saying they did not have the legal authority to dig up Chabrol’s body for removal.

At that point, Farmer contacted Harrington’s widower and other Navy veterans who served with her and went public with her story.

Congresswoman Speier read Farmer’s story and took action.

“It was appalling to me to think that an officer in the Navy could sexually harass, then kidnap, then rape, and then murder a sailor and get buried at a national cemetery, which is supposed to honor our war heroes and our dead,” Speier said, according to The Washington Post. “So he has no place in that cemetery.”

Speier’s amendment would also authorize the Army and Veteran Affairs to change a law that reviews cases of veterans buried in national cemeteries that committed capital crimes from December 2013 to January 1, 1990.

The Washington Post reported that Speier opted to confine her legislation to a three-decade period because she didn’t believe record-keeping was comprehensive enough to review all internments since Arlington’s establishment in 1864.

Speier submitted the proposed amendment without objection during the House Armed Services Committee’s meetings.

A spokesperson for Arlington National Cemetery told The Washington Post that officials do not comment on pending legislation.

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