Mass. city's bury big dilemma

ASSOCIATED PRESS Police keep guard outside the funeral home in Worcester, Mass., where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body is being prepared for burial.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Police keep guard outside the funeral home in Worcester, Mass., where Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body is being prepared for burial.

Cambridge doesn't want Boston suspect's remains

Posted: May 07, 2013

BOSTON - A Massachusetts funeral director said yesterday he has received burial offers from out-of-state cemeteries for the body of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect who was killed in a gun battle with police, even as Tamerlan Tsarnaev's mother told him she wants the body returned to Russia.

But Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan said despite the request, he doesn't think Russia will take Tsarnaev's body and he is working on other arrangements. He declined to be more specific.

Meanwhile, a friend of the surviving suspect in the bombings was released from federal custody yesterday amid a swell of support from family and friends, but was under strict house arrest and only allowed to leave his home to meet with lawyers and for true emergencies. Also, the administrator of the One Fund Boston released the protocol for payouts of the fund, with the families of those who lost loved ones and individuals who suffered double amputations or permanent brain damage in the bombings receiving the highest payments.

The question of where Tamerlan Tsarnaev will be buried dragged on for another day, and the issue seemed far from resolved.

Stefan said he plans to ask for a burial in the city of Cambridge, where Tsarnaev lived. Cambridge has asked him not to do so.

Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy urged the Tsarnaev family not to make a request.

"The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the City of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and wide spread media presence at such an interment," Healy said in a statement Sunday.

Stefan also said he had out-of-state burial offers but refused to give additional details, adding he was worried protests will rise up at any place that agrees to the burial, as they have at his own funeral home.

"Once the neighbors find out who's coming, they're going to come out," he said.

If Russia refuses to accept the body, Cambridge may be forced to take it, said Wake Forest University professor Tanya Marsh, an expert in U.S. law on the disposal of human remains.

Massachusetts law requires every community to provide a suitable place to bury its residents, she said. Cambridge's appeal to the family not to ask it to bury the body is likely a way to set up its defense if the family goes to court to try to force the burial, Marsh said.

Such a case would be unprecedented in Massachusetts, she said. She added that even in a country that's had its share of notorious accused killers, this kind of opposition to a burial is unheard of and is exposing holes in the law, Marsh said.

"It's a mess," she said. "We're really sort of in uncharted territory."

Gov. Deal Patrick said the question of what to do with the body is a "family issue" that should not be decided by the state or federal government. He said family members had "options" and he hoped they would make a decision soon.

He declined to say whether he thought it would be appropriate for the body to be buried in Massachusetts.

"We showed the world in the immediate aftermath of the attacks what a civilization looks like, and I'm proud of what we showed, and I think we continue to do that by stepping back and let the family make their decisions," the governor told reporters.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Md., and three of his friends met with Stefan on Sunday to wash and shroud Tsarnaev's body according to Muslim tradition.

Tsarni told reporters that he is arranging for Tsarnaev's burial because religion and tradition call for his nephew to be buried. He would like him buried in Massachusetts because he's lived in the state for the last decade, he said.

"I'm dealing with logistics. A dead person must be buried," he said.

As the fate of the body remained unclear, Robel Phillipos, a friend of bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was released on $100,000 bond while he awaits trial for allegedly lying to federal investigators about visiting Dzhokhar's dorm room after the April 15 bombings.

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