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Body of TerroristMany stories of suffering and survival emerged after the Boston Marathon bombings. Funeral director Peter Stefan's story revolves around his efforts to prepare and bury the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the suspect killed in a shootout with police four days after the bombings. Stefan has written a book about the challenges of accepting a job no one else wanted to do. The working title is The Last Rites of the Boston Marathon Bomber. The memoir takes readers through the details of Stefan's struggle.

Retrieving the Body

Stefan's business had been contacted initially, and was known for handling special and sensitive situations. Tsarnaev's body, however, was taken to a funeral home located in north Attleborough after leaving the medical examiner's office. Almost immediately, people showed up outside the business to protest the owners' acceptance of the suspected terrorist's remains. It was then that Stefan offered to take the body to his funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts. After the new location of the body became public, angry protesters showed up and surrounded his business as well, complicating the process. According to his memoir of the events, Stefan did his best to keep his head down and fulfill what he saw as an essential task.

Public Resistance

The funeral director writes that support was hard to come by. Not only did public outcry interfere with the job at hand, it proved nearly impossible for Stefan to find a place to bury the body. No city wanted to accept the responsibility of becoming the resting place for someone who had perpetrated such violence against so many at the Boston Marathon. Stefan maintains that he was merely doing what funeral directors do, and that is to take care of the bodies of the dead. He speculates that had the situation been different, and there had been a delay, people would have wondered why someone in the funeral business did nothing while the body sat. As it was, Stefan worked under constant threat and criticism from an outraged public. Many have suggested that he took the job and is writing the book for personal financial gain. He responds, "If I were predicated by money, then I wouldn't be here."

Funeral Director's Lack of Support

Although official quotes indicate that local and national funeral associations would have offered help if asked, Stefan writes that he had only himself and his own business to look to for support. He expresses disappointment that no one in the industry, either locally or nationally, came out to say that what was happening was simply what needed to happen. Eventually, a place was found to bury the body. Stefan admits that if he could have, he would have arranged for the body to be sent to Russia. Despite rumors to the contrary, the director says both the governor and the mayor tried to help, but there was little they could do. Tsarnaev is now buried in an undisclosed location in the United States.

Universal Need

Stefan is no stranger to difficult cases. He identifies his business as non-sectarian, and available to anyone who asks for his services, including:

  • People of limited or no financial means
  • People who were incarcerated at the time of their death
  • People of all religious and spiritual affiliations
  • People of all ethnic and racial backgrounds

Media Attention

The director says that he expects some negative attention after the release of the book, but that he is hopeful it will portray his, and others, fundamental commitment to the charge of taking care of people in death. As someone who comes from Boston, Stefan can relate to the pain of the events. He insists that what he did is part of being a good citizen.

"The thing is," says Stefan, "the job here is we bury the dead."

Category: Get Ordained


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