Funeral director struggles to find cemetery to take Boston Bombing suspect
Where to bury the bombing suspect?
8:37 AM, May 7, 2013
A funeral director says he has received burial offers for more than 100 out-of-state graves for the body of a Boston Marathon bombing suspect who was killed in a gun battle with police but none are panning out, even as Tamerlan Tsarnaev's mother told him she wants the body returned to Russia.
Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan said Monday that none of the 120 grave offers from the U.S. and Canada, have worked out because, when he calls officials of the cities or towns involved, nobody wants the body.
Stefan also said that, despite the request by Tsarnaev's mother, he doesn't think Russia will take the body. He said he made calls to Russia, but that it was hard to get anyone to respond. He said he is working on other arrangements, but declined to be more specific.
Meanwhile, a friend of the surviving suspect in the bombings was released from federal custody Monday 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 Monday, and the issue seemed far from resolved.
Stefan said he made follow-up calls on all the grave offers, but faced the same result each time.
"It's not only Massachusetts that doesn't want him," Stefan said. "Nobody wants him. And all these people who have donated graves, I've made some calls and said to somebody in the cities and towns where the graves were, `Hey, we would like to bury the guy there that was part of the marathon bombing."'
He said the response was often the same: "You're not gonna do that here."
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.
Stefan said he does not regret taking on the body.
"We're just burying a dead body," he said late Monday. "We're not buying a cause. We're not doing anything else. ... The guy is a terrorist, whatever he did. Still dead."
The founder of the organization that built Colorado's largest mosque, Sheikh Abu-Omar Almubarac, operating independently, is offering to bury Tsarnaev in the Denver area. He didn't say where he would bury the body. Stefan said he was not aware of that offer, but said he might pursue it.
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."
Massachusetts Gov. Deval 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.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Maryland, and three of his friends met with Stefan on Sunday to wash and shroud Tsarnaev's body according to Muslim tradition.
Tamerlan's brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was captured and remains in a prison hospital. He has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction and faces a potential death sentence if convicted.
As the fate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's 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 probing the April 15 bombings.
Phillipos, 19, who was a student at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with Tsarnaev, was charged last week with lying to investigators about visiting Tsarnaev's dormitory room three days after the bombings. He faces up to eight years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors initially asked that Phillipos be held while he awaits trial, arguing that he poses a serious flight risk.
But prosecutors and Phillipos' lawyers agreed in a joint motion filed Monday that Phillipos could be released under strict conditions, including home confinement, monitoring with an electronic bracelet and a $100,000 secured bond.
Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler agreed to the request during a hearing Monday, saying he would be under "strict house arrest," and only allowed to leave his home to meet with his lawyer and for true emergencies.
Two other friends were charged with conspiring to obstruct justice by taking a backpack with fireworks and a laptop from Tsarnaev's dorm room. All four had studied at UMass Dartmouth.
Later Monday, the administrator of a compensation fund outlined a draft protocol for payments from The One Fund Boston, which was created to help people injured in the twin blasts.