Cambridge Official: Don’t Ask to Bury Bombing Suspect In Our City

The search continues to find a burial plot for bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Photo Via ZMan2711 on Flickr

Photo Via ZMan2711 on Flickr

After several attempts, the director of a Worcester funeral home is running out of options to find a place to bury the remains of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Peter Stefan says he hopes that Cambridge will be his “last stop” to end a weekend-long search for a burial plot, after he has fielded more than 1500 phone calls and dealt with protesters upset over the fact that he took in the body.

But Cambridge officials said Sunday night that they urged Stefan and workers from the Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlor, where Tamerlan’s body is, not to make such 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. The families of loved ones interred in the Cambridge Cemetery also deserve to have their deceased family members rest in peace,” Cambridge City Manager Robert Healy said in an email to Boston magazine.

According to Healy, the funeral home has not submitted a formal application for a burial permit, or purchased a plot as of yet, something Stefan says he was planning to do on Monday after being denied by other cemeteries in Massachusetts who refused to allow Tamerlan’s remains to be buried on their properties. Healy said he has determined that it is not in the best interest of “peace within the city” to execute a cemetery deed for a plot within the Cambridge Cemetery for the body, despite requests from Tamerlan’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, that he be put to rest in the place where he had lived with his wife and daughter for the last decade.

Stefan says that if the body can’t be buried in Cambridge, he will call on federal officials, Governor Deval Patrick, and Mayor Tom Menino to help him find an appropriate place to bury Tamerlan, after spending three days without success based on the high-profile case surrounding the suspect. “They have to do something,” he says.

Tamerlan and his brother, 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev, are accused of setting off two bombs at the Boston Marathon on April 15, killing three people, and injuring more than 200 others.Tamerlan was killed days later during a shootout with police in Watertown. His brother, Dzhokar, was arrested after a day-long manhunt, and is currently in a facility in Fort Devens, under federal watch.

After he was killed, Tamerlan’s remains were sent to the state’s medical examiner’s office, until they were released to the family, and shipped to a funeral home in North Attleborough on Friday. Tamerlan’s body stayed at the funeral home for less than a day after protesters showed up outside the building waving flags, and cursing at the owners of the funeral service. That’s when Stefan stepped in, he says, and brought the body to Worcester, where it has been since Friday. Stefan says he has spent the whole weekend fielding phone calls and dealing with protesters outside of the Worcester funeral home, but he is standing his ground despite some public outrage, and says he is just “doing his job.”

“I would like to have this all done by Tuesday morning. No later. And if I can’t find a place to bury him by then, I am going to ask the government to help,” says Stefan. “I’m aware of how the public feels, and I’m not avoiding anybody. But in this country, we have to bury people. I’m just doing what I have to do.”

Stefan says he is “disappointed” in the federal government, and the local government, for not picking up the phone and offering to give him a hand. “This is a state and federal problem,” he says. Stefan has offered to front some of the costs for the funeral services, even though Tamerlan’s uncle will be paying for a majority of it. He says the suspect’s Uncle, Tsarni, would “like to see [the body] go anywhere” at this point, as the process continues to drag on due to public outrage. Tsarni arrived from Maryland Sunday to perform the Muslim ritual of washing the body of Tamerlan prior to burial.

Much like Stefan, Cambridge’s City Manager, Healy, says federal officials should step in and take over the burial process for the bombing suspect. “This entire investigation has been conducted admirably by multiple law enforcement agencies. The Federal Bureau of Investigation had had the lead jurisdiction, and now, other federal agencies should take the lead in the burial of this individual,” Healy said Sunday.

Stefan says before he turns to the governor and mayor he will call on Cambridge to allow a proper burial, even though the city has already asked him not to file for a permit, something Stefan says he “absolutely” will file for on Monday. “Cambridge is my last stop—and you know what, that might be where he is going,” he says.