Virginia authorities say the burial of Tsarnaev appears to be legal
DOSWELL, Va. -- Authorities in the Virginia county where Tamerlan Tsarnaev is buried said this morning that they have reviewed his burial documents and the interment “appears to be legal.”
Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa said he was up until 3 this morning examining paperwork from the burial and transfer of the body to the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, which handled Tsarnaev’s burial Thursday in Doswell, Va., about 15 miles north of Richmond.
“It appears at this point, from the documentations that we have here [that] the funeral home transportation of the body has been done properly,” Lippa told the Globe.
Caroline County officials said Friday that they had been blindsided by the body’s burial in their community and they would determine whether it had been buried in accordance with the law.
They also asked the Virginia attorney general to investigate the legality of the burial, but a spokesman for the attorney general’s office said Friday night that the office had no jurisdiction over the burial.
If any laws were broken, Caroline County officials said Friday, they would investigate removing Tsarnaev’s body. But if the laws were followed, they said, they would have little choice but to leave the body there.
Lippa said this morning he had spoken with Peter Stefan, owner of Graham Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester.
He also has reviewed the transfer documents, which were signed by the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia upon receipt of the body on Thursday morning. He said he was satisfied that those documents were completed as they should have been.
Lippa said he is waiting to talk with officials at the Islamic Center of Greater Richmond, who have spoken out in opposition to Tsarnaev’s burial. But it remains unclear, Lippa said, whether they would have any control over the body’s burial – or any legal ability to object to it after it has been buried.
Lippa said he also plans to speak with Worcester Police Chief Gary Gemme, although Lippa declined to say what concerns Gemme might resolve.
“This is going to be a sheriff to police chief talk,” he said.
At the cemetery, where Tsarnaev’s body lies under a small, rounded mound of clay-colored earth, it was quiet today, the stillness punctuated only by occasional gunfire from nearby hunters.
Sheriff’s deputies and state troopers made periodic visits in patrol cars, and curious residents from the surrounding rural area drove up a narrow gravel and dirt road to Al-Barzakh Cemetery, where they eyed the grounds briefly and left.
Charles H. Abdel-Alim, 63, a Richmond schoolteacher who donated the acre-size plot as a Muslim cemetery about 15 years ago, lives beside the graveyard and said he welcomed the decision to bury Tsarnaev’s body beside his home,
“The person is one thing; the body is another,” Abdel-Alim said. “Once we heard of this, the obligation came to us. I feel ashamed that they had to come all the way down here.”Brian MacQuarrie can be reached at email@example.com. Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.