Floyd Thomas, the chairman of Caroline County’s board of supervisors, considered Tsarnaev’s possible burial a black mark against the county where President Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was cornered and killed 148 years ago.
“We feel as far as this particular burial is concerned, we feel the same way that most of the people in the county feel — most of the way America feels. We’re very angry over the bombing … that’s not something that’s supposed to happen,” he said.
“We don’t want the county to be remembered as the resting place of the remains for someone who committed a terrible crime.”
Peter Stefan, director of the Worcester funeral home where Tsarnaev’s body was held, had some sympathy for the Caroline officials.
“What I really didn’t care much for was the fact that the city or town wasn’t notified,” he said. “Once the family takes over, it’s their responsibility. But there’s a moral issue here.”
Local officials asked Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to look into whether any laws were broken in carrying out the hushed burial. If not, there’s likely nothing they can do.
“If there were, I think we’d try to undo what’s been done,” Thomas said.
Lane Kneedler, an attorney who represented the Virginia Cemetery Association when the law was drafted to regulate for-profit cemeteries in the late 1990s, said private and church burial grounds are not regulated by the state and only have to meet local zoning requirements. He said that once a cemetery is approved and operating, only its owner controls who is buried there.
The cemetery where Tsarnaev is buried contains 47 graves, all covered Friday with reddish-brown mulch except for two that appeared newly dug and were unmarked. 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.
State police cruisers, county sheriff’s cars and black unmarked sedans with their emergency lights concealed cruised back and forth past the cemetery, officers inside them eyeing everything for any sign of trouble as reporters on the ground and those in helicopters high overhead broadcast the gravesite’s location to the world.
Meanwhile, Tsarnaev’s death certificate was released Friday. It shows 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 younger brother, Dzhokhar, ran over him in his getaway attempt.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured later and remains in custody. The brothers are accused of setting off two shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs April 15 near the marathon finish line, an attack that killed three people and injured more than 260. The brothers are also suspected in the shooting death days later of an MIT police officer.
Their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery Village, Md., took responsibility for the body after Tamerlan’s wife, Katherine Russell, said she wanted it released to her in-laws. He said his nephew was buried in the Doswell cemetery with the help of a faith coalition.
“The body’s buried,” he said. “That’s it.”
O’Dell reported from Richmond. Lewis reported from Doswell. Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie and Jay Lindsay in Boston and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this report.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.