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Funeral director says Tsarnaev's mom wants body returned

May 7, 2013 at 8:03 AM   |   Comments

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WOCESTER, Mass., May 7 (UPI) -- The mother of suspected Boston Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev wants his body returned to Russia, the funeral director handling the remains said.

Peter A. Stefan said Zubeidat Tsarnaeva called him "in tears" Sunday, saying it would be "nice if you could get him home," the Boston Herald reported Monday.

"Regardless of what he did, she's still his mother," Stefan said. "What are you going to say to her? What can you say?"

Tsarnaeva, who is on a terror watch list, returned to Russia last year following an arrest for shoplifting and has not come back to the United States in the wake of the bombings and Tamerlan Tsarnaev's fatal gunfight with police in Watertown, Mass., April 19. Tamerlan's 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, ran the 26-year-old over with their getaway car. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured later that day after a massive manhunt.

The two are suspected in the twin bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon April 15 in which three people died and more than 260 people were injured.

Stefan is funeral director at Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlor in Worcester, Mass., which has been trying since Friday to locate a cemetery in Massachusetts that will accept Tsarnaev's body. Stefan said the body has been cleansed according to Muslim tradition by Tsarnaev's uncle, is wrapped in shrouds and is ready to be sent elsewhere or interred locally.

No community has been willing to take it.

"I have refrigeration. I can hold him for a long time," Stefan said. "It'd be a great idea if we could send him to Russia, but I would have to have something from the State Department. This is a national security situation. We can't just send a body over like we're dumping it."

Stefan's funeral home has been the target of about a half-dozen protesters since Friday.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Monday the state will not intervene because "it's the family's issue."

"I think everybody is feeling upset about what happened," Patrick told reporters during an event in New Bedford. "But we showed the world in the immediate aftermath of the attacks what a civilization looks like, and I'm proud of what we showed and I think we continue to do that by stepping back and let the family make their decisions."

The governor said he wasn't concerned about Tsarnaev's grave becoming a draw for admirers or protesters if the body is buried in Massachusetts.

"We have strong feelings about the people who hurt us, but I think our focus now has to be on prosecuting those involved, and getting to the end of the investigation," he said, "so that we can move forward."

Tsarnaev's uncle, "just wants a burial," Stefan said, noting the difficulty in finding a cemetery. "It doesn't even have to be a Muslim grave. That's how far along we are."

Stefan said he's willing to foot the bill to ship the body back to Russia if Secretary of State John Kerry can assure him the remains will be respectfully handled, the Herald said.

"I'll pay for it myself. ... My question is, is someone going to do something once I get him there? Not go back and forth and hold him there because he's a terrorist or whatever," Stefan said. "That day, have a service, a burial and end it. This is becoming an international political football."

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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