VA Officials Furious Over Burial Site For Boston Marathon Bombings Suspect
BOSTON (CBS/AP) – The body of Boston Marathon bombings suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been buried in a private cemetery in Virginia.
Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, took the body from the Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Home in Worcester at 3 a.m. Thursday in a rented van, sources told WBZ-TV Friday. The body was then buried during the day on Thursday in a Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Virginia.
Tsarni told CBS News Tamerlan was “buried with the help of the good people of this country.”
Worcester police announced Thursday that the body had been removed from the city and has been “entombed,” but would not say where.
THE PERSON WHO CAME FORWARD
Police said that as a result of their public plea for assistance Wednesday, a “courageous and compassionate individual came forward to provide the assistance needed to properly bury the deceased.”
Martha Mullen, of Richmond, told The Associated Press in a brief telephone interview that she offered to help after seeing news reports about towns and cemeteries refusing to allow burial. She said she is not the only person who helped with arrangements.
“It was an interfaith effort,” she said. “Basically because Jesus says love your enemies.”
NEAR AN AMUSEMENT PARK
The cemetery is hidden among the rural woods and hills of Caroline County about 30 miles north of Richmond and contains only 47 graves in all. All were covered with reddish-brown mulch except for two that appeared newly dug, neither with any kind of marking and one of them presumably Tsarnaev’s.
On one of the new graves lay a vase full of roses at one end and a single red rose at the other end. The other new grave was bare.
A news helicopter hovered overhead, along with a swarm of television news trucks in what is ordinarily a tranquil meadow in a large, wooded section within sight of a roller coaster at the Kings Dominion amusement park along Interstate 95.
MUSLIM COMMUNITY FURIOUS
Imam Ammar Amonette, of the Islamic Center of Virginia, said that his group was never consulted and that Mullen reached out to a separate group, the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond.
“The whole Muslim community here is furious. Frankly, we are furious that we were never given any information. It was all done secretly behind our backs,” Amonette said, adding it “makes no sense whatsoever” that Tsarnaev’s body was buried in Virginia.
“Now everybody who’s buried in that cemetery, their loved ones are going to have to go to that place,” he said.
The Islamic Society of Greater Richmond didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking confirmation that it was involved in the burial.
At least one neighbor was unaware the cemetery was even there.
Jaquese Goodall, who lives less than a quarter-mile away down a winding country lane, said a rope usually blocks the gravel road leading to the cemetery. She had no idea when the body was buried and never saw hearses enter or leave the property.
“If they didn’t want him in Boston, why did they bring him all the way down here against our wishes?” said Goodall, 21, who has lived in the area all her life.
“I am worried because his people may come down here to visit and there will be a whole lot of problems from him being here,” said Goodall, a Baptist.
Tsarni told CBS there were other people at the burial in Virginia Thursday. “Friends of mine,” he said.
“My brother (Tsarnaev’s father in Russia) called me…and I said, yes, it’s over. He found rest in his own grave.”
Tsarni said it was a very public funeral.
“It was a normal burial. We weren’t hiding. It was during the day yesterday… daytime,” he told CBS.
Officials say they will examine whether all laws were followed in carrying out Tsarnaev’s burial. If not, leaders in rural Caroline County say they could seek to have his body moved elsewhere.
Sheriff Tony Lippa and Floyd Thomas, chairman of the Caroline Board of Supervisors, spoke Friday at a news conference.
They say no state or local officials were notified that Tsarnaev would be buried in a private Muslim cemetery about 25 miles north of Richmond. They also say they didn’t find out about the burial until they were swamped by phone calls Friday morning.
Permission is not required from officials as long as laws are followed. While they say they don’t want Caroline County remembered as the resting place for someone tied to such a horrific act, there’s likely nothing they can do.
They say they are concerned about vandalism or the site becoming a shrine to anti-American sympathizers.
Tsarnaev’s death certificate was released Friday, which listed the burial place.
It showed he was shot by police in the firefight the night of April 18, run over and dragged by a vehicle, and died a few hours later on April 19. Authorities have said his brother ran over him in his getaway attempt.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)