Struggle to find burial site for Boston bombing suspect is 'unprecedented'

The family of Tamerlan Tsarnaev continues to struggle to arrange for a burial, while the administrator of the One Fund Boston announces preliminary plans for distributing donations.

Elise Amendola / AP
Protesters gesture outside the Graham, Putnam, and Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, Mass., Monday, May 6, where the body of slain Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev is being prepared for burial. Funeral director Peter Stefan has pleaded for government officials to use their influence to convince a cemetery to bury Tsarnaev, but so far no state or federal authorities have stepped forward.

No one who runs a cemetery, it seems, wants to accept the body of Boston bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

On Tuesday, Mr. Tsarnaev’s family continued its struggle to arrange for a burial. He died April 19 in a gun battle with police.

It’s an unusual situation, underscoring that privately run cemeteries are under no obligation to take all comers.

"The whole situation is unprecedented," said David Walkinshaw, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Funeral Directors Association. The state of Massachusetts does not own its own cemeteries, he said, and the federal government has cemeteries only for veterans, thus excluding Tsarnaev.

More on that in a bit. In other recent news related to the marathon bombings:

Victims fund. On Tuesday, the administrator of a fund for victims of the April 15 bombings held a second and final public hearing on how the charitable funds will be dispersed.

With the fund having more than $28 million paid or pledged as of Monday, the largest awards – to individuals or families – will total as much as $1 million or more, says Kenneth Feinberg of the One Fund Boston.

Priority will be given to families of those killed in the attack, as well as people who lost limbs or are diagnosed with permanent brain damage, the attorney said Monday in releasing a draft protocol. Among the factors still to be weighed: whether some funds will go to people whose injuries did not result in spending a night or more in a hospital, and whether payments will be “means-tested,” such as by giving larger amounts to people who lack insurance.

The fund is receiving contributions from donors around the world – including proceeds from a benefit concert in Boston May 30.

July 4 previously a target. The surviving suspected Boston bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, told interrogators that he and his brother considered setting off their bombs on July 4, then shifted their plans to the earlier date of the Boston Marathon, US officials have said.

The Fourth of July holiday is especially big in Boston, when throngs of people line the Charles River for a fireworks show (accompanied by Boston Pops music) that is nationally televised.

How bombs were made. Some investigators believe the bomb designs came at least partly from an article titled "How to build a bomb in the kitchen of your mom," published a couple of years ago by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine. It was also republished earlier this year in a glossy brochure entitled the "Lone Mujahid Pocketbook."

College-friend suspect out on bail. A 19-year-old Massachusetts resident accused of lying to federal investigators was freed on $100,000 bail Monday.

Robel Phillipos, a friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will be under the custody of his mother and must wear a GPS ankle bracelet, US Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler ordered in federal court in Boston.

In addition to Mr. Phillipos, two other friends are charged with efforts to impede the investigation – including removing a backpack of evidence from Tsarnaev's dorm room after they knew their friend was wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

NRA's perspective. National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre argued Saturday that the bombing aftermath pointed to the virtues of law-abiding citizens owning guns.

"How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?" Mr. LaPierre asked in a speech at the NRA annual convention in Houston.

Referring to a day-long manhunt when the younger Tsarnaev was believed to be armed and seeking to escape capture, LaPierre said that "residents were imprisoned behind the locked doors of their own home, a terrorist with bombs and guns just outside."

Some others say the Boston events make the case for tighter control of firearms, citing news reports alleging that Tamerlan Tsarnaev used an unregistered gun to kill one police officer and shoot at others.

Quest for burial. More than 100 people in the United States and Canada have offered burial plots for the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, said Worcester funeral home director Peter Stefan. But officials in the cities and towns where the sites are located have said no.

The city manager in Cambridge, where Tsarnaev lived, has urged his family not to ask to have him buried there because the attention would make it difficult for residents trying to get back to their lives.

Tsarnaev's mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told The Associated Press in a phone interview that she wants to bury Tamerlan in her native Dagestan, but that Russia is not allowing her to bring back the body.

 Material from wire services was used in this story.

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