Police: Area man collected wreaths from cemetery and burned them

Staff report

A Harrisburg man allegedly collected wreaths from burial plots at a Hagerstown, Md., cemetery on Christmas Eve and set the decorations on fire.

Peter J. Custer, 43, is charged with second-degree malicious burning, malicious destruction of property and trespassing, according to a news release from the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

“Witnesses called 911 just after 1:00 a.m., after driving by Cedar Lawn Memorial Park in Hagerstown and saw Custer standing by a fire,” the release states.

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The Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Office of the State Fire Marshal investigated “and concluded that Custer took plastic wreaths from three or more burial plots, placed them on an access road, and intentionally set the wreaths on fire.”

During his arrest, Custer referenced that “he was trying to save the earth and that plastic wreaths were non-biodegradable.”

Custer was transported to Washington County Detention Center and later released on his own recognizance after appearing before a district court commissioner, according to the release.