BOSTON - Nineteen days after Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a gun battle 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 body was released by the state medical examiner May 1 and has been in limbo since. Tsarnaev's 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 was unprecedented in a country that has always found a way to put to rest its notorious killers, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 children and six educators at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school last year.
"It's very unusual that people are so fixated on this," said Tanya Marsh, a Wake Forest 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.
Peter Stefan, whose funeral home accepted Tsarnaev's body last week, said Tuesday that none of the 120 offers of graves from the United States. and Canada had worked out because officials in those cities and towns did not want the body.
In Russia, officials aren't commenting after Tsarnaev's mother said authorities won't allow her son's body into the country so she can bury him in her native Dagestan.
Also, Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell, has hired a criminal lawyer with experience defending terrorism cases as she continued to face questions from federal authorities.