There is no headstone. The family is at a kind of relative peace with a traditional Muslim burial — an "an inter-faith coalition" has answered the call — and the city of Boston, too, with a body gone and a death certificate released. But Tamerlan Tsarnaev's final resting place is traditional by no other means: This is a dead terrorism suspect's gravesite, and there may be dancing.
After weeks of controversy almost made for an anonymous graveyard outside Massachusetts, word surfaced on Friday that the Boston bomber has been interred at a small Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Virginia, near Richmond. The Boston Globe's Wesley Lowery spoke with the local Christian woman who is, it appears, the "a courageous and compassionate individual" praised by police in Worcester, Massachusetts, for helping them bury the body nobody wanted anything to do with. Lowery's Globe colleague Matt Viser, in posting the photo above, says the Tsarnaev plot "is not marked," and CNN spoke with Tsarnaev's uncle — yes, that one — who says "an inter-faith coalition" in the town "helped me" with a rightful Muslim burial.
Except in a way Tsarnaev's grave will forever be marked, and right now you need look no further than the Internet to find out exactly where he will rest. When (legitimately) angry Bostonites found out where Tsarnaev's remains were being held between the shootout in Watertown and when it was recently transferred, they picketed and protested a local funeral home, holding up signs reading "DO NOT BURY HIM ON U.S. SOIL," after which someone drove by, screaming: "Throw him off a boat like Osama bin Laden!" this past weekend. On social media, and there have been calls to flush his body down the toilet, handcuff it to his brother, use it as fish bait, or throw it into a dumpster. By no means does social media speak for everyone, but the ugliness is out there, because the Boston bombings were ugly. Today it's "WHY THE HELL" and "Radical Christian love" and all the rest.
Perhaps Robert Healy, the city manager of Cambridge, put it best, balancing anger and frustration with the realities of moving on and almost forgetting, when he pled with the Tsarnaev family not to bury their son in the town he used to call home — even though it was their legal right:
The difficult and stressful efforts of the citizens of the City of Cambridge to return to a peaceful life would be adversely impacted by the turmoil, protests, and wide spread media presence at such an interment.
There need not be undue sympathy for a man who by all accounts is more than just a suspect — indeed, a report has surfaced about a triple murder — but this is why so many cemeteries and mosques in Massachusetts and beyond publicly divorced themselves from the burial proceedings. And yet: "There is a need to do the right thing," the Worcester police chief said. "We are not barbarians. We bury the dead."
And some secrets — the secrets of death — are best left to rest. "That's what we as funeral directors are supposed to do," Bob Biggins, the former director of National Funeral Directors Association, told The Huffington Post. "We don't make public what we are doing or how we are serving a family."
As if a kind of somber gesture of moving on, the city of Boston released Tsarnaev's death certificate just a few hours after word of the burial in central Virginia made its way across the nation. The cause of death: Gunshot wounds by police, blunt trauma to the head from being run over by his own brother and dragged across the streets of Massachusetts. What he may have done may be far worse, but there will be no joy in Doswell. And certainly no real peace.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.