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Arlington cemetery's unknown skater revealed

The identity of Arlington National Cemetery's unknown skater has been solved, the Army said Friday.
Image: Rachel Stecher
Rachel Stecher, now 19 and an Air Force Academy cadet, was identified Friday as the skater in this picture left in an unidentified urn unearthed at Arlington National Cemetery.Army's Criminal Investigation Division
/ Source: NBC News and

The identity of Arlington National Cemetery's unknown figure skater has been solved.

The girl's picture was found tucked in a plastic bag inside an ash-filled, brass-color urn that lay among eight sets of unidentified cremated remains uncovered last fall in a mass grave.

Army Criminal Investigation Command spokesperson Chris Grey told NBC News that in the past few months investigators identified remains from three of the urns, but that the other five were a mystery. They began to follow clues found on the photo of the little girl, including tracking down several advertisers displayed on the back of the photo.

The Washington Post, offering to help, published the figure skater's undated photo Friday.

The CID is "confident we've identified the young lady in the photograph" featured in the Washington Post today, officials told NBC News on Friday.

The skater is Rachel Stecher of Ashburn, Va., now a 19-year-old cadet at the Air Force Academy, NBC News reported.

The urn belonged to Rachel's grandmother, Gwyn Stecher, who had been interred at Arlington in August 2001, the Washington Post reported Friday. Her urn was supposed to be above the coffin of Rachel's grandfather, Adolph Stecher, a retired Army chief warrant officer who had served for more than 30 years and was a World War II and Korea veteran.

Adolph Stecher was Rachel's inspiration to join the military, Virginia family members told the Post after coming forward when they spotted the picture in the newspaper.

After the family contacted CID, Gray said several special agents were dispatched to the home, where they got documentation that positively identified the young girl as Rachel Stecher.

Chris Grey said that the identities of the remains in the other four urns are still unknown, and that there is no remaining evidence that could eventually prove who the four people were.

Last fall, the Army launched the first criminal investigation into the misplacement of remains at Arlington after the October discovery of the eight urns dumped in a single grave site.

In June 2010 an Army inspector general's report cited widespread problems at the cemetery, including more than 200 unmarked or misidentified graves.

In August 2010 officials revealed one grave site at Arlington was found empty, another contained the wrong remains and a third had two sets of remains, only one of which matched the headstone's name.