A Christian woman from Richmond spearheads the effort to bury Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, a Muslim, after hearing no cemeteries would take his body. News4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports.
Officials in Caroline County, Va. are trying to determine if any laws were broken when Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was buried in a private Doswell cemetery.
Floyd Thomas, chairman of the county's Board of Supervisors, said Friday that "we would have to look into undoing what happened" if any laws were violated in the course of the burial. News4's Julie Carey reported that county officials had reached out to the Attorney General's office and were waiting to hear back regarding any possible legal recourse.
Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni of Montgomery County, Md., said Friday that the body was buried with the help of a "faith coalition.''
Tsarni did not want to speak on camera but told News4 that he had attended the burial.
"I buried him with my own hands," Tsarni said.
Tsarni expressed frustration that the media was still pursuing the story.
“The body is buried,” he said. “It’s over.”
A statement from Islamic Funeral Services said Tsarnaev was buried in a donated plot at Al-Barzakh Cemetery. Two freshly dug graves were observed there Friday afternoon, but neither had been marked with a person's name.
While reporters initially were allowed to approach the cemetery, a Caroline County sheriff's deputy ordered reporters off the property, explaining that it is private. A deputy's car blocked the gravel road, from which King’s Dominion’s roller coasters can be seen. Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa said that deputies would guard the site until further notice.
According to the Islamic Funeral Services statement, the interfaith group was organized by a resident of Richmond, Martha Mullen, who reached out to her United Methodist church as well as local Muslim, Jewish and Hindu communities Tuesday.
"Jesus tells us, 'Love your enemies,'" Mullen -- a graduate of United Theological Seminary -- told her pastor, the statement said. "Not to hate them even after they are dead."
Not everyone in Caroline County shared Mullen's belief.
"[Tsarnaev's] not from here, so he can go back to wherever he came from," one woman who lives near the cemetery told Carey.
"I don't think he deserves to be buried anywhere in this country," said a man sitting at the Old Courthouse Cafe in Bowling Green, the county seat.
Sheriff Lippa told a press conference that he had not known Tsarnaev was buried in his jurisdiction until Friday morning, when he began receiving calls from residents.
"It caught all of us off guard," Lippa said. "None of us ... knew anything about this."
Al-Barzakh Cemetery is the first all-Muslim cemetery in central Virginia, according to its website. Doswell is located about 30 minutes north of Richmond.
Cemetery administrators coordinated the transfer of Tsarnaev's body with Worcester, Mass., funeral director Peter Stefan, the Worcester police and Tsarni.
"We are all brothers and sisters in our humanity. ...[W]hat Tsarnaev did is between him and God. We strongly disagree with his actions, but that does not release us from our obligation to return his body to the earth...." said one administrator, according to the statement.
The burial this week ended a frustrating search for a community willing to take the body, which had been kept at Stefan's funeral parlor in Worcester as cemeteries refused to take the remains.
Tsarnaev was killed April 19 in a getaway attempt after a gun battle with police. His younger brother, Dzhokhar, was captured later in the day and remains in custody.