No cemetery wants alleged Boston bomber, funeral director says
By Ashley Fantz
(CNN) — There may not be a single cemetery in Massachusetts or in the entire country that is willing to be Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s final resting place, a funeral director told CNN on Monday.
And that has left Peter Stefan in a very difficult spot.
“I think they (the cemeteries that have been asked) probably fear reprisals from people who have loved ones being buried there, people who may potentially buy lots there,” the funeral director said.
Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, are accused of setting off two deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon in April.
The funeral director says he is trying to do everything he can, but he’s struggling.
“I think a lot of the people don’t understand,” Stefan said. “And it’s an emotional problem, obviously.”
But, “We have to bury this guy,” he continued. “Whoever he is, in this country, we bury people.”
It may be possible to look to the past for guidance on what to do.
President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, is buried in the Dallas area, the city where Oswald killed the president in 1963.
Oklahoma City terrorist bomber Timothy McVeigh’s ashes were scattered after his execution, though it’s a mystery where.
On Sunday, Tsarnaev’s uncle Ruslan Tsarni was the only relative at Stefan’s funeral home.
Tsarni, who decried the bombing suspects as “losers” after the attacks, performed the Islamic tradition of preparing a body for burial, washing and shrouding it.
He said he had not been in contact with Katherine Russell, his nephew’s widow.
“I’m left alone to deal with this matter,” Tsarni said. “And I want to stress that Tamerlan Tsarnaev has no other place to be buried. There’s no other place who would accept his body.”
Tsarnaev’s uncle wants him buried in Cambridge, Massachusetts, arguing that it’s his nephew’s home. “He grew up here,” Tsarni said.
But town officials have strongly rejected the idea.
“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 widespread media presence at such an interment,” City Manager Robert W. Healy said in a statement Sunday.
Stefan suggested Monday that he and the family are considering appealing to a Muslim cemetery outside Massachusetts.
And yet, that might not work either, he fears.
“I feel the same problem exists when the neighbors and the people find out what we’re doing,” Stefan said.
He added that most of the cemeteries in Massachusetts are nonsectarian with a section set aside for Muslims.
“The only true Muslim cemetery is in Connecticut,” he said, without naming the cemetery he was referring to.
Tsarnaev’s body could be sent out of the country, but that possibility is still being discussed.
“At this point, any outcome would be better than nothing,” Stefan said.
And he will continue to try to bring this painful experience — for everyone — to an end.
Stefan has said that if no grave site is found, he plans to ask the U.S. government to find one.
“Funeral directors have done this for years,” Stefan said.
But this situation is uniquely difficult, he said.
“This is a big problem, and somebody has to step in and say, ‘Look, we’re going to have to do something here.’ ”
CNN’s Susan Candiotti contributed to this report.