Cemeteries Refuse To Take Body Of Boston Bombing Suspect

May 6, 2013
Originally published on May 6, 2013 9:00 pm
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The wrangling continues over what to do with the body of accused Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. After his body was taken in by a funeral home in Massachusetts, no cemetery has agreed to accept it for burial. From member station WBUR, Deborah Becker reports the funeral homeowner is now asking the government to step in.


DEBORAH BECKER, BYLINE: For the past three days, protesters have gathered outside the nondescript Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlor in Worcester, Massachusetts. They're angry that the funeral home agreed to accept the body of suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Twenty-nine-year-old Jennifer Marchand says Tsarnaev doesn't deserve a burial.

JENNIFER MARCHAND: His mother and father won't come over and get him. His poor uncle had to do it. And that man lives here. I feel bad for him. I don't feel bad for nobody else because they deserve nothing more than to be fed to the sharks.

BECKER: Graham, Putnam and Mahoney has a long history of providing funeral services for the indigent. It's also one of the few Massachusetts funeral homes that does Muslim burials. The funeral homeowner, Peter Stefan, has been asked about burial at sea and he says, he can't provide that.

PETER STEFAN: Now, if the government wants to do that, that's great. They did it with Osama bin Laden. If that's what you want to do, go ahead and do it. But they're going to do it, not us.

BECKER: Stefan says several local cemeteries have refused to bury Tsarnaev. Officials in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Tsarnaev lived say burying him there would not be in the best interest of the city. Worcester activist Bill Breault has started raising money to send Tsarnaev's body to his parents in Russia. That's where Tsarnaev was born. He's asking state and federal officials to help.

BILL BRREAULT: I said, look, get the message to Congressman McGovern. Move this. Secretary of State Kerry is going over to Russia. Please, as quick as possible, if you can expedite this, this will be over with.

BECKER: Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni from Maryland, claimed the body from authorities. He arrived at the funeral home yesterday and prepared it for a Muslim burial. Tsarni says he washed the body and covered it in a shroud to prepare for a simple service. As for his response to the cemeteries refusing to bury his nephew, Tsarni said the soil belongs to no one and everyone deserves a burial.

Peter Stefan says ultimately his funeral home is responsible for the burial, so he wants to make sure it's done.

STEFAN: I want to know for a fact that once I get him there, that someone's going to do something and bury him, not go back and forth and hold the body there because he's a terrorist or whatever they want to call him. I don't know that if I'm not there. I'm not just going to send the body out. I don't care who it is. This isn't what we do.

BECKER: Tsarnaev's parents are not able to travel to the U.S. because of health and legal issues. Stefan says they want him buried in Russia as well. Stefan has spent much of the day calling state and federal officials for help and asking them to make a decision. But Governor Deval Patrick says this isn't a state or federal issue, it's a family issue. And he expects a decision soon. For NPR News, I'm Deborah Becker in Worcester, Massachusetts. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.