The measure was submitted by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) during the House Armed Services Committee’s markup off the proposed legislation last week and received zero objection, Stripes.com reports.
The amendment directs the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs to remove the remains of Andrew J. Chabrol — who was executed in 1993 for the murder and rape of Melissa Harrington, an enlisted sailor serving within his Virginia Beach Navy unit — from the United States’ largest military cemetery by September 30, 2023.
Chabrol’s remains would be given to his relatives unless none are able to be contacted or claim the remains, in which case the remains would be disposed of ‘as the Secretary of the Army deems appropriate,” the proposal states.
The objective to remove Charbol’s remains from Arlington has been part of a veteran-led movement for several years, as noted in a recent report by the Washington Post.
Court testimony during Charbol’s trial revealed that Harrington reported the former Navy lieutenant to her command for stalking and harassment and, despite not facing meaningful consequences from the military branch, Charbol plotted revenge as part of what he called “Operation Nemesis,” which was detailed for months in his journal.
Harrington abducted from her home on July 9, 1991 and was raped and tortured by Charbol before he — in his own words — “went berserk” and strangled her to death.
Judi Farmer, an Navy veteran, learned about Harrington’s story in 2018 and launched an online petition, as well as wrote two letters to Arlington, calling for the disinter of Charbol’s remains.
An Arlington official responded to Farmer earlier this year, claiming the Army didn’t have the legal authority to dig up Charbol’s remains.
Farmer then went public with the story alongside the victim’s widower, Joe Harrington, as well as other Navy veterans who served alongside her.
Farmer acknowledged the defense bill amendment and said she was “cautiously optimistic” about the measure being included and going through the House and Senate before bringing long-denied justice to Harrington.
“Then her friends that mourn her, and husband that mourns her, can know that [Chabrol] won’t get a flag every Memorial Day, he won’t get a wreath on Christmas. He won’t be honored,” Farmer said in reference to Arlington’s holiday traditions.
Speier said she had learned about the situation and was compelled to take 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 during a recent interview via Stripes.com. “So he has no place in that cemetery.”