Arlington National Cemetery would be required to remove the remains of a former Navy officer who raped and murdered a junior sailor under an amendment Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., proposed to the annual defense budget last week.
Submitted during the House Armed Services Committee's markup of the proposed legislation, Speier's amendment would require that the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs remove the remains of Lt. Andrew J. Chabrol by Sept. 30, 2023, The Washington Post reports.
According to the proposal, Chabrol's remains would be given to his relatives, or, if they could not be located, disposed of "as the secretary of the Army deems appropriate."
The amendment would also empower the Army and the Department of Veterans Affairs to review other cases — going back to Jan. 1, 1990 — in which veterans who were convicted of capital crimes were buried in national cemeteries.
The Associated Press reported in June 1993 that Chabrol was executed after being convicted of the July 1991 rape and murder of Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa Harrington.
Chabrol tried to begin a romantic relationship with Harrington while she was in his command but she rejected his advances and reported him to his superior, according to the AP.
Saying that the complaint damaged his career and his marriage, Chabrol left the Navy in January 1991 and began plotting revenge in a computer journal in which he referred to Harrington as "Nemesis."
Stanley J. Berkeley was later recruited by Chabrol to help him abduct Harrington from her Virginia Beach home, the AP reported at the time.
After being brought to Chabrol's Chesapeake home, Harrington was strapped to a bed, raped and tortured. Duct tape was wrapped around her head and she was strangled with rope.
Chabrol testified that he "just went berserk" during his trial, where he pleaded guilty.
Speier told the Post that she felt compelled to do something after hearing of the story.
"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," she said. "So he has no place in that cemetery."
Harrington's husband, Joseph, told the Post that he had trouble sleeping for several weeks after reliving his wife's murder but that he believed telling her story could bring closure and perhaps help other members of the military.
"The Navy failed a good sailor years ago," he said of his late wife. "And maybe it'll help some good sailor in the future."
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