The owner of the Worcester funeral home where the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is now being held said he was not making a statement about the alleged crimes of Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar.
“I’m not honoring a terrorist. I’m just burying a body,” Peter Stefan, owner of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors, told the Telegram & Gazette today.
Stefan was quoted by the newspaper as saying that he believes that everyone should be treated with dignity after their death. He said he is prepared to face protests.
“Don’t do it? OK, what do you suggest I do? What would you do?” Stefan told the Telegram.
According to Stefan, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Maryland, arrived at the Worcester funeral home Thursday to work with Stefan on funeral plans that have not been finalized, in part, because no cemetery has so far said it was willing to accept the remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
According to the Telegram, Stefan has a long history of political activism in his neighborhood and has also long provided funeral services for the homeless or the drug-involved who have no family to pay for, or arrange, burials.
The body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev was first released by the state medical examiner’s office to his relatives Thursday night and then taken to the Dyer-Lake funeral home in North Attleborough, where a small group of protesters gathered.
This morning, Dyer-Lake said in a statement that they no longer had Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body, but did not say where the remains were being sent.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, suspected of the bombing with his brother, Dzhokhar, died following a shoot-out with police in Watertown on April 19. Dzhokhar, who is believed to have run over Tamerlan with a stolen car as he fled the shoot-out, later escaped on foot before being captured that evening.
The Globe reported today Tsarni and Tamerlan’s two sisters obtained Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s remains from the medical examiner’s office after his wife waived her right to claim her husband’s remains.
According to Kheda Saratova, a human rights activist working with the family in Russia, the Tsarnaev family does not intend to bury Tamerlan until they find an independent coroner to issue a cause of death, the Globe reported. The Tsarnaevs have remained dubious of reports that police were taking Tamerlan into custody when Dzhokhar reportedly ran him over.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is facing federal charges that could lead to the death penalty, is being held at a federal prison hospital in Ayer.
Three men charged with obstructing the investigation — Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both 19-year-old Kazakh nationals, and Robel Phillipos, 19, of Cambridge — are being held at the Essex County Correctional Facility in Middleton. Their attorneys have said they are not guilty of any crimes.
The medical examiner's office has not released the cause of death for Tamerlan Tsarnaev. A death certificate could be released as early as today.