BOSTON (AP) - Nineteen days after Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gunbattle with police, cemeteries still refused to take his remains and government officials deflected questions about where he could be buried.
On Wednesday, police in Worcester, west of Boston, pleaded for a resolution, saying they were spending tens of thousands of dollars to protect the funeral home where his body is being kept amid protests.
"We are not barbarians," police Chief Gary Gemme said. "We bury the dead."
Tsarnaev was fatally wounded in Watertown, just outside Boston, after police confronted him in a stolen car. He was shot several times by police, then was run over with the car by his fleeing brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, his accomplice in the deadly April 15 bombing, authorities have said.
The bombing, involving pressure cookers packed with explosives and shrapnel near the marathon's finish line, killed three people and injured about 260 others.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's body was released by the state medical examiner May 1 and has been in limbo since. Tsarnaev's widow's family lives in Rhode Island, and his widow had wanted his body turned over to his side of the family, which claimed it.
An expert in U.S. burial law said the resistance to Tsarnaev's burial is unprecedented in a country that has always found a way to put to rest its notorious killers, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Adam Lanza.
"It's very unusual that people are so fixated on this," said Tanya Marsh, a Wake University professor. "There are a lot of evil people buried in marked graves in the United States. Traditionally, in the United States, ... when somebody dies, that's the end of their punishment."
A deal had been struck Monday to bury the remains of Tsarnaev, a 26-year-old ethnic Chechen from southern Russia, at a state prison site, but it dissolved after state officials stopped cooperating Tuesday, Gemme said.
A solution may be found in Massachusetts law, which requires a community to provide a place to bury someone "dying within its limits." Tsarnaev lived in Cambridge, across the Charles River from Boston, but was pronounced dead at a Boston hospital, meaning Boston would be obligated to bury him under a straight reading of the law.
But Marsh said there's a better legal case to bury the body in Cambridge because, in practice, where a person lived has been the key factor in determining the place of burial.