Menino won’t allow bombing suspect’s burial in Boston

Officials hope a solution is near

Katharine Lusk (right), an adviser to Mayor Menino, and Kristen Swett, an assistant archivist, worked on signs and mementos in Copley Square.
Katharine Lusk (right), an adviser to Mayor Menino, and Kristen Swett, an assistant archivist, worked on signs and mementos in Copley Square.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Mayor Thomas M. Menino will not allow the body of ­Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev to be buried in the city, his spokeswoman said Tuesday, even as authorities in Worcester, where the body languishes in a funeral home, expressed confidence a solution is near.

“It would be disrespectful to our residents to accommodate this individual,” said Dot Joyce, Menino’s press secretary.

Instead, the mayor wants Tsarnaev’s family to return the body to the suspect’s native Russia, instead of burdening American officials with trying to find a burial plot amid continuing protests and a string of rejections from cemeteries in multiple states.


Menino “is recommending that the family make the decision,” Joyce said. “The mother wants it to return to Russia, and that’s where it should go. We’re not involved in this person’s life at all.”

The mayor’s declaration is the latest turn in a dark saga that has moved from the ­chaotic terror of Marathon Monday to a lingering, sometimes ugly dispute over how to dispose of the suspect’s ­remains.

Menino’s stance follows a similar move by officials in Cambridge, where Tsarnaev, 26, had lived with his wife and 3-year-old daughter. City Manager Robert Healy said that Tsarnaev would not be buried there because of potential disruptions and public safety concerns.

Tsarnaev died after a shoot-out with police April 19, four days after he and his brother, Dzhokhar, are alleged to have detonated two bombs that killed three people and injured more than 260 on Boylston Street.

In Worcester, where ­Tsarnaev’s body has been held at a funeral home since Friday, Police Chief Gary Gemme emerged optimistic after a meeting Tuesday with the ­funeral director and Tsarnaev’s uncle that an end to the controversy is in sight.

“They’re quite confident that there will be a conclusion to settle this matter within the next couple of days,” said Sergeant Kerry Hazelhurst, a ­police spokesman. “The chief’s function . . . was to get the parties involved to meet, discuss, and try to find a solution to the problem.”


Hazelhurst said that Peter Stefan, director of the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors, has cast a wide net.

“I don’t think he’s going to specifically target Massachusetts,” Hazelhurst said. “I think he’s just trying to reach out to anybody anywhere. I think all options are on the ­table right now.”

Protesters have gathered outside the funeral home since Friday, when the body was brought there after being ­released by the state medical examiner. Most of them have criticized the presence of Tsarnaev’s body, but about 40 people from local faith groups ­arrived Tuesday evening to pray and ask for tolerance.

Sister Rena Mae Gagnon, 77, a nun of the Little Franciscans of Mary, held a sign that read, “Burying the dead is a work of mercy.”

“I was very saddened by the initial reaction when I heard that people were here protesting,” Gagnon said. “We’re Christians. We’re not to act that way.”

Clarence Burley, a Paxton resident who is corresponding clerk for the Worcester Friends Meeting, a Quaker group, said he is bothered by “the thought of a body that is part of God’s creation lying in a refrigerator.”

“This is a body that has been left behind,” said Burley, 86, who wore a traditional black, flat-brim Quaker hat. “The violence that was in ­Tamerlan has left this body, which is a temple of the Holy Spirit.”


In Boston, the administrator of One Fund Boston met with about 40 bombing victims, some on crutches, to continue discussions about what to expect in compensation. Donations to the fund have reached about $28 million, said Kenneth R. ­Feinberg, who also managed the compensation pool for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Created by Menino and Governor Deval Patrick, the fund is intended to be a single source of donations and has attracted large amounts of corporate contributions.

Feinberg said he had never seen a tragedy with worse physical injuries than the Marathon bombings, including those on Sept. 11. The task of distributing money to victims, Feinberg said, is “a horrible undertaking” and “raises questions that I believe would defy Solomon in getting answers.”

Feinberg, who met with the victims at the Boston Public Library, has also administered funds for victims of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech and Aurora, Colo.

A draft protocol for disbursements calls for dispensing assistance based on severity of injuries: Those who were killed, suffered double amputations, or permanent brain damage would receive the most, followed by those who suffered a single amputation and then those who were hospitalized overnight.

Then there are gray zones, Feinberg said, whether to compensate people with emotional trauma, whether to consider victims’ finances, and whether to compensate people who needed only outpatient treatment.

And how to do it all quickly. Feinberg said he expected to have a final version of the protocol next week and begin the first wave of payments June 30.


“If there is one instruction I’ve received from the mayor and the governor, [it’s] ‘Ken, get the money out and get it out fast. People in grief need this compensation,’ ” he said. “That’s what we hope to do, and that’s what we plan to do.”

Feinberg stressed that the fund will not have enough money to compensate every victim.

“When you look at the horror that happened here in Boston, the horror, the number of deaths, the number of horrible physical injuries, the number of people still in the hospital today,” Feinberg said, “I assure you based on everything I’ve done in the past, including 9/11, there isn’t enough money to pay everybody who justifiably expects it or needs it.”

Some victims said they would be willing to take less compensation to save a small amount for others.

Alyssa Loring, 27, said after the meeting that her sister, Brittany — who suffered a skull fracture, shrapnel wounds, and a large leg wound in the bombing — would be eligible as a third-tier victim according to Feinberg’s draft protocol.

“There’s the A, B, and C groups for eligibility. We are really Boston people, and it seems like there should be a D group to really help out everybody else,” Loring said, possibly for people who stopped to help her sister as she fled the blasts and might have psychological trauma as a result.


Bombing victims also can apply to the state attorney general’s Victim Compensation Fund, which might cover people who do not receive help from One Fund Boston. Applicants can be compensated up to $25,000 for needs ranging from mental health counseling, lost wages, or modifying a home for a wheelchair, according to a spokesman for Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Steps away from the meeting, a different kind of reckoning began.

John McColgan, Boston’s city archivist, carefully peeled back the tape on a poster board at Copley Square, where hundreds of visitors from across the globe had written messages of hope and love for the bombing victims.

“Layers, layers,” he murmured under his breath. “People have written on both sides.”

He and four other city workers and archivists were working to preserve those messages before the weather worsened, with rain in the forecast.

“The city and the mayor are very concerned about the preservation of this material,” said McColgan. “It’s a heartfelt outpouring on the part of the people, the city, everywhere.”

His team started about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, carefully removing posters and disentangling paper chains from fences, preparing them to be moved to the city archives in West ­Roxbury, where they will be cataloged, photographed, and shelved in acid-free folders and boxes.

Sturdier items — scores of running shoes, stuffed animals, hundreds of baseball hats — will be left in Copley Square for an indefinite amount of time.

The impromptu memorial — which includes flowers, crosses, candles, and photographs — has grown steadily over the past two weeks. It is a place for people to heal, but ­also an historical document.

“I am an archivist, and I went to school to learn how to document all sorts of history,’’ Marta Crilly, who works for the city, said as she stood by a pile of posters. “One of the things we learned about was how you document tragedies and disasters. I never thought I’d be doing it in my own town.’’

Sarah Risko, 28, of Jamaica Plain, came to pick up an unfinished painting she had left at the memorial: a unicorn with a prosthetic leg in honor of the victims. The unicorn is the symbol of the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the Marathon. By 9 a.m., the team had nearly finished its work.

“A lot of these signs are in different languages; that’s a really beautiful thing,” Crilly said. “I’m really happy that these things are going to be preserved, and that this part of Boston’s beautiful history, this outpouring of love, is going to be documented for people to see.”

Wesley Lowery and Andrew C. Ryan of the Globe staff and correspondent Jeremy C. Fox contributed. Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@
; Brian MacQuarrie at macquarrie@globe.com.