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Man found dead at Arlington National Cemetery was retired Air Force colonel, 92

Jun. 24, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
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Retired Air Force Col. Robert Terrill, 92, was found dead of a gunshot wound at Arlington National Cemetery on June 20. Foul play is not suspected. (Mike Morones/Staff)
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A man found dead of a gunshot wound Friday at Arlington National Cemetery has been identified as retired Air Force Col. Robert Stanton Terrill, 92, of Falls Church, Va.

“Although we have not completely ruled it out in order to conduct a complete and thorough investigation, we do not suspect foul play at this point in the investigation,” said Chris Grey, spokesman for the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, the lead agency investigating the death.

Terrill’s neighbors confirmed that his late wife, Helen, who died in 2009, is buried at Arlington. The cemetery’s online grave finder lists Helen Terrill as being buried in Section 64, where Terrill was found dead.

Janice Gaynor, who lived on the same street as the Terrills for more than four decades, said she and the rest of the neighborhood are shocked by his death. “I don’t think any of us had any idea,” Gaynor said. “He didn’t complain or anything.”

But she said Terrill found himself alone after his wife, whom he was very close to, passed away after several years of illness. The Terrills had no children.

Gaynor said Terrill was proud of his military service, and enjoyed reading and discussing nonfiction books about military history and past wars.

And Terrill was known on his street for helping his neighbors when they became sick. About 25 years ago, Gaynor said, her own husband developed cancer. Gaynor was an elementary schoolteacher at the time, and had trouble getting off work to take her husband to his treatments. So Terrill volunteered and took Gaynor’s husband to his cancer treatments.

“That was very common, him helping,” Gaynor said. “We were most grateful. He was very good to his wife, he took care of her when she was sick, and any of his friends, he always offered” to help.

Terrill was found dead near Columbarium Courts in Section 64. Local police and Army Criminal Investigation Command agents were dispatched to the cemetery at 10 a.m. on Friday after receiving reports of a single gunshot there.

“This was a tragic day at Arlington National Cemetery and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Col. Terrill,” Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent Jack Lechner Jr. said in a news release on Tuesday. “We are grateful for his military service to our country.”

The investigation into Terrill’s death is ongoing, the news release said. Arlington National Cemetery said it has no record of someone previously being found on cemetery grounds dead of a gunshot wound.

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