Graveyards refuse to accept body of Boston bomb suspect

Funeral home owner says he is struggling to find cemetary willing to bury remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Protesters gather outside the funeral home where deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body is being held. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Protesters gather outside the funeral home where deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body is being held. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Sat, May 4, 2013, 13:37

A Massachusetts funeral home owner said he is struggling to find a graveyard willing to accept the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, killed in a shootout with police four days after an attack that left three dead and 264 injured.

Peter Stefan, owner of the funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, said he would turn to government officials for help if he cannot find a resting place for Mr Tsarnaev soon.

“Everyone deserves a burial. It doesn’t matter who it is,” Stefan said. “I can’t pick and choose.”

Mr Tamerlan and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are suspected of planting and detonating two pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on April 15th, killing three people and injuring 264. Ten people lost limbs.

The bombing was the worst attack on US soil since the September 11th, 2001, attacks.

Mr Stefan said he had faced criticism for his decision to accept the body of Mr Tsarnaev, and was prepared for protests outside his business, the Graham, Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors.

Mr Tamerlan’s wife, Katherine Russell, declined to pick up Mr Tsarnaev’s body from the Massachusetts Medical Examiner’s office, allowing his relatives to claim the remains and arrange for a funeral. His body, released on Thursday, was initially taken to another funeral home.

Mr Stefan said Mr Tsarnaev’s family was put in touch with him because he has handled other Muslim funerals and is known in the community.

He declined to identify the graveyard officials he has spoken with thus far, saying he hopes to change their minds.

He compared his efforts on behalf of Mr Tsarnaev to the doctors who treated him and the lawyers preparing to defend the ethnic Chechen’s younger brother, Dzhokhar, who was wounded in the April 19th shootout and is being held in a nearby prison facility.

Mr Stefan said he hopes to find a burial site soon.

“This is a situation that has to be dealt with. It has gone on way too long,” Stefan said.