INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Sen. Dan Coats and Rep. Susan Brooks asked their
colleagues Wednesday to support legislation that would allow the federal
government to dig up the remains of felons mistakenly buried with full
The two Indiana Republicans testified in Washington before the Senate and
House Veterans Affairs Committee in support of the Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect
for National Cemeteries Act.
The bill would give the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Army the
authority to disinter veterans buried in national cemeteries who had
committed capital crimes. The bill is named after an Indianapolis apartment
manager fatally shot in a May 2012 shooting rampage by a man who then took
his own life and was buried with full VA military benefits.
Coats asked the Senate panel approve the legislation “and ensure that our
fallen veterans rest in peace next to loved ones and fellow service members,
Coats said in a news release he was joined at the hearing by Frank and Carol
Koehl, the parents-in-law of Alicia Koehl.
Alicia Koehl’s assailant, Army veteran Michael LaShawn Anderson, is buried
in Fort Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Mich., despite current law that
prohibits anyone who has “committed a Federal or State capital crime but
were unavailable for trial due to death” from being buried in a national
Brooks spoke in support of the bill at a House Veterans Affairs Committee
hearing focused on oversight of the National Cemetery Administration and
shared a letter from Paul Koehl, the husband of the apartment manager.
“The Koehl family has been through a tremendous tragedy and it’s time to
give them the closure they deserve,” Brooks said.
After learning of Anderson’s burial, the Koehl family contacted the VA
requesting that he be disinterred. The VA notified Indiana’s congressional
delegation in July that it would not disinter Anderson because it did not
have the authority to do so.
Police have said Alicia Koehl was shot 13 times and bled to death in her
office. Three other people also were shot during the rampage.