Chief pleads for burial spot for Tsarnaev: 'We are not barbarians'

A Massachusetts police chief begged Wednesday for help in finding a burial place for Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying that guarding the funeral home where his body is being held is a drain on town resources.
By Tracy Connor, Staff Writer, NBC News

A Massachusetts police chief begged Wednesday for help in finding a burial place for Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, saying that guarding the funeral home where his body is being held is a drain on town resources.

“There is a need to do the right thing," Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme said. "We are not barbarians. We bury the dead.”

Tsarnaev, 26, has been dead for almost three weeks. Funeral director Peter Stefan accepted his remains and prepared themin accordance with Muslim tradition but no one has agreed to bury them.

Gemme said he wasn't happy about Stefan's "unilateral decision" to let the body come to Worcester, but believes he acted out of compassion and ethical obligation.

He's far angrier that no one in the government has stepped up to the solve the dilemma. He blasted state officials for offering to bury Tsarnaev at a prison site and then reneging without explanation.

His calls to officials at the city, state and federal level have yielded no answers. Earlier this week, both the State Department and the Massachusetts governor said they would not intervene to find a final resting place in the U.S. or abroad.

Gemme said shipping the body to Russia, where Tsarnaev's parents live, was "not an option" for his uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who is handling arrangements for the family out of "compassion."

Stefan — who has been targeted by protests — has said the best solution for all involved would be sending the remains to Russia, but it's expensive and he would need a guarantee that someone will accept and bury them there.

"There are no immediate prospects," Gemme said.

A retired Vermont teacher, Paul Keane, has offered to surrender a family plot in a Hamden, Conn., cemetery to the Tsarnaev family as a tribute to his mother, who taught him to "love thine enemy."

"I have received hate emails and statements which sound like threats, but I will not withdraw my offer," Keane said in an email Wednesday.

It's unclear, though, if Keane has the final say. The administrator of the cemetery, Mount Carmel Burying Grounds, did not return a call for comment.

In the meantime, Gemme said, the police department is being forced to keep order at Stefan's funeral home, using resources that are needed elsewhere in the community.

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