Girl's Photo ID'd to Solve Part of One Arlington Cemetery Mystery

Friday, 19 Aug 2011 06:07 PM

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A decade-old photo of a young figure skater found in an unmarked burial urn discovered in an Arlington National Cemetery mass grave a year ago has been identified. The girl is now a second-year student at the Air Force Academy, and the photo was buried with her grandmother, The Washington Post reported.

Family members told the Post that the skater is Rachel Stecher, a 19-year-old from Ashburn, Va. Rachel’s mother, Kate Stecher, said Rachel's grandmother’s ashes were in the urn. Rachel was close to her grandmother and was inspired to join the military by her grandfather, an Army veteran who served in World War II and Korea.

An Army’s Criminal Investigation Command spokesman could not immediately confirm the information. The grandmother, Gwyn Stecher, died in 2001 and was buried at Arlington. Her husband, Adolph Stecher, a retired chief warrant officer, died a couple of years later and was buried in a coffin that was to be placed below his wife’s urn, the Post reported.

A contractor found the urn in an excess dirt pile at the cemetery in 2005. It was one of eight found in the mass grave that ignited a scandal over the running of the nation’s most hallowed military cemetery. Investigators have identified three sets of remains found and concluded that four others cannot be identified.

Investigators believed the girl in the photo to be a close relative of the deceased and surmised that finding her identity could lead to the identity of the remains. They allowed the Post to publish the photo after their investigation reached a dead end.

“We’re happy that she’s going to be back where she belongs,” Kate Stecher told the Post. “It’s a shame that this happened.”

The urn has been reburied temporarily as "unknown," the Post reported.


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