Bombing suspect’s body buried outside Mass.
WORCESTER — The stealthy removal of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body from a Worcester funeral home and its burial Thursday outside Massachusetts were greeted with relief by city officials and acceptance by his family in Russia.
The remains of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect are entombed at an undisclosed location, said Worcester police, after leaving the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors under cover of darkness.
“As a result of our public appeal for help,” Worcester police said, “a courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to properly bury the deceased.” Authorities declined to elaborate.
Halfway across the globe, Tsarnaev’s parents have “made their peace with the fact that he is buried,” said Kheda Saratova, a human rights activist who spoke to the family shortly after they heard from Tsarnaev’s uncle in Worcester that a burial place had been found.
Saratova said in a phone interview that Tsarnaev’s parents did not know the location of the burial place but that they would visit. The mother of the suspects, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, had said she wanted her son’s body repatriated to Russia after cemeteries in the United States began refusing his remains.
According to Saratova, the family received an offer to bury the body in Georgia, a former Soviet republic that borders Chechnya, a region that is the Tsarnaev ancestral homeland. “They were negotiating that proposal when they got the call” about the burial, Saratova said.
The burial ended a nearly weeklong saga in which no cemetery could be found to accept the body, angry protesters gathered daily outside the funeral home, and officials from Worcester’s police chief to Governor Deval Patrick pleaded for a resolution.
“There’s a collective relief in the city,” said Konstantina Lukes, a Worcester city councilor at large and former mayor. “The trauma of the Patriots Day race was extended to the city of Worcester. It’s something we weren’t prepared for.”
Tsarnaev, 26, died April 19 after a shoot-out with police in Watertown, four days after he and his brother, Dzhokhar, allegedly detonated two bombs that killed three people and injured 265 near the Marathon finish line. Dzhokhar, 19, fled the scene, but was captured about 18 hours later.
The remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev were removed from the funeral home sometime before midnight Wednesday, said a funeral home official. The body was driven without police escort to a burial place approved by Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who claimed the body and represented the family in the cemetery search, said the official, who asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak publicly.
Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, waived her right to decide where her husband should be buried and handed that responsibility to Tsarni, a Maryland resident who conducted Muslim burial rites on his nephew and worked with funeral home director Peter Stefan to find a burial site.
The Boston city clerk had not received a death certificate by late afternoon Thursday, said Dot Joyce, spokeswoman for Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The certificate is scheduled to be filed in Boston because Tsarnaev was pronounced dead in the city, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
In Washington, the news was welcomed by Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis, who testified before a House panel investigating the bombings.
“I hope it’s been buried, because I don’t want to talk about these terrorists anymore,’’ Davis told reporters. “This is something that should be put behind us. I personally would like it if we never had to mention these names again, ever.”
Since Friday, the cities of Cambridge and Boston and cemetery officials in at least three states refused to accept Tsarnaev’s remains. On Tuesday, a proposal to bury him on the grounds of a Massachusetts state prison fell apart, said Worcester Police Chief Gary J. Gemme.
In retrospect, the governor told WGBH-FM on Thursday, the wait to bury Tsarnaev had become a “circus.” The public, he said, needs to refocus attention on the victims and the pending prosecution of Tsarnaev’s brother, who faces federal terrorism charges that could bring the death penalty.
“I understand that people’s feelings about the cruelty of this crime run high. Mine do, too – and hot,’’ Patrick said. “But the thing for us to focus on now is how to restore and repair the people who were hurt and the families who have had loss, and how to assure that justice is done in the case of the ongoing investigation.”
He said he did not know where Tsarnaev’s remains had been buried. “I am glad the family exercised one of the options they had,’’ Patrick said. “I just don’t know which one. I’m not being cute.’’
Mike Morris, 62, of Worcester said he is pleased that the body has left his neighborhood, if only to end the protests.
“Half of these people I’ve seen out here protesting don’t even know what time it is,” he said. “This has brought out the city’s worst of ignorance. That body needed to be buried. Now, only God can judge the guy.”
Worcester police, who had erected barricades in front of the funeral home, incurred tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses, Gemme said. For that money, said Joe Timko, an auto body foreman who worked with Tsarnaev’s father in Somerville, the body could have been shipped to Russia.
Lukes, the Worcester city councilor, said she believes that Stefan “was surprised at the reaction, the extent of the emotionalism, and the anger” outside his funeral home.
“He has always done the unpopular thing,” Lukes said. “When HIV patients died, he was the funeral director who was willing to bury them. He’s accustomed to being on the outside of traditional practices. He was willing to do something that nobody else was willing to do.”