New Arlington Grave Snafu Sparks Criminal Probe

idow Shada Parada Rodriguez, right, and mother Lusia Parada Rodriguez, second from right, of Marine Cpl. Nicholas Parada Rodriguez, of Stafford, Va., watch the coffin containing the remains of Cpl. Parada Rodriguez during a burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, May 27, 2010. Cpl. Rodriguez died May 16, 2010, while supporting combat operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
AP Photo
The Army announced Thursday that it has launched a criminal investigation after eight urns were discovered buried in the same grave at Arlington National Cemetery, CBS News National Security Correspondent David Martin reports.

The discovery was made in October when an employee volunteered the information, Martin reports. Since then, three sets of remains have been identified and their families notified, one set has been declared unidentifiable and the remaining four are still under investigation.

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Thursday's announcement of the discovery of the urns and the subsequent criminal investigation isn't the first of its kind to come from the cemetery outside the nation's captial. A months-long investigation found bookkeeping problems and burial mix-ups at one of the nation's most hallowed sites.

After a report issued in June found that the problems could potentially affect thousands of graves, defense officials received about 1,100 calls from worried families.

One of those callers, the widow of an Army staff sergeant, led to the exhumation of three graves in August. The three remains in those graves, all former members of the armed forces, were found to be in the wrong place.

The investigation into cemetery mismanagement marred the reputation of one of the nation's best-known burial grounds. The cemetery's two civilian leaders were forced to step aside, and Army Secretary John McHugh appointed a new chief to conduct a more thorough investigation to sort out the mix-ups.

Each year almost 4 million people visit Arlington, where more than 300,000 remains are buried, including those of troops from conflicts dating back to the Civil War, as well as U.S. presidents and their spouses and other U.S. officials.

An urn containing the ashes of Marion Grabe, who served 26 years in the Air Force, was accidentally buried over another body, Martin reported in June. Her remains were finally moved to another plot without telling her family.

An Army inspector general's report about the cemetery vindicated whistleblower Gina Grey, a former public affairs officer at the cemetery, who told a high ranking general about the problems two years ago.

In July, the cemetery's former superintendent blamed his staff and a lack of resources for the scandal that forced his ouster.