Wednesday was bittersweet for the Fort Wayne relatives of a woman killed while working at an Indianapolis apartment complex in 2012.
The man who had shot and killed 45-year-old Alicia Dawn Koehl was finally removed from the honored grave he never should have had in the first place. But Koehl's parents-in-law, Frank and Carol Koehl, and sister-in-law Becky Moher, all of Fort Wayne, were never told about Michael Anderson's disinterment until it was all over – an apparent effort by the Veterans Administration to avoid a “media event.”
The lack of advance notice and the opportunity to be at the graveside when Anderson's body was removed irritated Frank Koehl, father of Alicia's husband, Paul. Even so, he said that it was “with a sense of righteous satisfaction that we received the news of the disinterment of the body of the man who brutally took our beloved Alicia from our son, her children and our entire families.”
As The News-Sentinel reported that October, Anderson shot himself after police arrived and was buried at taxpayer expense in Fort Custer National Cemetery near Battle Creek despite a federal law that bars people who have committed capital crimes from burial in national cemeteries. Anderson was considered eligible for the burial because he had served in the military.
Family members asked the VA to remove Anderson's body, but when it failed to act, they worked with Sen .Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd District, and others to pass the “Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act” late last year.
In a statement, Coats said that “On this day of closure, my thoughts are with the Koehl family and the lasting legacy Alicia leaves behind. While I am pleased this unacceptable mistake has been corrected, today's events cannot bring back a wonderful wife and mother.”
Frank Koehl agreed, but said those events will help nevertheless.
“Not a day goes by that we do not continue to experience the anguish of that awful day when our Alicia was inexplicably killed. We will never understand how someone could do that to such a wonderful wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, aunt, and friend to all that Alicia was,” he said. “But a terrible wrong has now been righted, and a bit of peace given back to us.”