Despite Protests, Worcester Funeral Home Intent On Burying Bombing Suspect

A protester holds a sign with "Bury the garbage in the landfill," referring to the body of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

On Saturday,  a protester demonstrates outside the Worcester funeral home that is holding Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

WORCESTER, Mass. — The owner of the Worcester funeral home holding the body of accused marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev expects to find a cemetery to bury Tsarnaev by Monday. But as of Saturday afternoon, he had no takers and protesters and police remained outside his funeral home.

About a half dozen protesters stood in front of the Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester on Saturday morning after learning that the body of accused bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev was brought there Friday.

Pat Hildreth of New Hampshire protests, holding a sign that reads, "Shame on u Mr. Stefan," referring to the director of the funeral home that has Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

Pat Hildreth of New Hampshire protests outside the funeral home that has Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body on Saturday. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

Pat Hildreth drove about an hour from her home in Rindge, N.H., to demonstrate against Tsarnaev being buried in the United States.

“What does that say about this city? What does that say about our country?” Hildreth asked. “We’re going bury a dead terrorist? It’s so wrong on so many levels.”

But Peter Stefan, owner of the Worcester funeral home, says his job is to bury people, not to judge them.

“You can’t pick and choose. If you come to me and say your Uncle Freddy murdered 10 members of your family what do I say to you? ‘I can’t help you because I don’t do murderers’ funerals?’” Stefan said. “The only difference is this has more notoriety. Also I can’t separate the sins from the sinners — it doesn’t work.”

“I’d bury Adolf Hitler if they asked me to,” Stefan added. “I’m not burying what he stood for; I’m just burying the body.”

Stefan has a long history of not being afraid of controversy and helping to bury the disenfranchised. He is also one of few Massachusetts funeral homes that performs Muslim burials.

He said Tsarnaev’s uncle contacted him through the local Muslim community about taking the body. Stefan believes that Tsarnaev’s widow was also making arrangements for the body and that’s why there was initial confusion about the body briefly going to a North Attleboro funeral home Thursday night.

Stefan has been in the funeral business for more than three decades and was among the first to help bury those who died of AIDS.

Peter Stefan, director of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors, which will be taking care of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's funeral arrangements. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

Peter Stefan, director of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors, which will be taking care of Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s funeral arrangements. (Deborah Becker/WBUR)

But in this case, many cemeteries are reluctant to get involved. Stefan says the four cemeteries he usually deals with have said no.

“So far there’s been basically a response that they would prefer not to handle it. That could change,” Stefan said.

Along with those opposed to Stefan’s handling the funeral are those who support Stefan – some are even offering donations. He’s says he’s directing them to The One Fund Boston to help the bombing victims

“It has swung around some that now 90 percent of the calls we get are from people who are in favor of what we’ve done. In fact, we’ve had quite a few people who want to make contributions to us,” he said. “We said to send it to that One Fund in Boston.”

Stefan hopes to find a cemetery by Monday, when the second autopsy, requested by Tsarnaev’s family, should be complete.

Tsarnaev’s death certificate now lists the cause of death as gunshot wounds and trauma as he was shot and dragged by a motor vehicle. It says he was dead on arrival at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on April 19, the morning of a dramatic chase and shootout with police in Watertown as they searched for those responsible for the marathon bombings.

His younger brother, Dhokhar Tsarnaev, is charged in the bombings and remains at a prison medical facility in Fort Devens.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1079147009 Tony Budz

    Good God the man is dead why on earth are you wasting your time worrying about a dead body, it’s dead, go home.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    the people protesting the funeral home are insane and i have been reading comments on this and other sites that are so disgusting, i dont understand how people can be so stupid

    • Eric Shanabrook

      Futo Buddy I agree with you 110 per cent!!

    • A Guy

      I can’t understand how they killed and 8 year old boy? Can you?

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        two wrongs do not make a right

  • sp113

    I think people need to grow up! Picketing a funneral home?

  • Kelley

    I hope they let the public know where they end up burying him. I’ll bury a couple pounds of bacon with him!

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    so wbur has 3 articlesabout a corpse. 0 about CISPA. heck they dont even have an article about the limo fire that killed 5 people-2 more than the bombing- pay no attention to the man behind the curtian

  • wareinparis

    Please let the funeral director do what is right. It is not a matter of anything more than living in a civilized society. We do still think of ourselves that way. Don’t we?

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      seeing him interviewed he is very resolved to

  • sjw81

    who is paying for this ? does he ever turn down business? or always takes the money no matter what and for whom? people who dont see the emotion involved , have never experienced this horror first hand.

    • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

      are you the one of those people who are like “how can a defense lawyer defend that rapist,murderer,molester ect”? because i cant understand the sentiment. i assume the family is paying for it although this guy is known for working with poor families. he was one of the first people who would bury people who died from aids when others would not. just because i want to understand where you are coming from what do you think the funeral director should do? his job is not to judge the sins of the dead.

  • DRT

    I don’t support the picketers, and I think this guy deserves a proper burial. But why does he deserve to be buried in Boston — which is not where he lived (Cambridge), not where he was a citizen (Russia), and is the place that most likely to maximize the spectacle of his death and create a monument for the 24/7 news networks and tourist groups? Why not bury him anywhere, anywhere in the world, but this city?

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