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Sheriff: Tamerlan Tsarnaev's burial was handled properly

By Greg Botelho, CNN
updated 12:02 PM EDT, Sun May 12, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The sheriff of Caroline County, Virginia, reviews the burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev
  • "All paperwork is in order at this point," he says, suggesting burial is legal, can't be undone
  • County officials weren't consulted in advance, then expressed surprise and dismay
  • Sheriff: County is "now connected to this tragedy in the most unsavory way "

(CNN) -- The sheriff of a small Virginia county, where residents and officials alike had expressed dismay over the burial of a Boston bombing suspect within their midst, said Saturday that it appears "all paperwork is in order at this point," suggesting the interment was legal and nothing can be done about it.

The previous day, when news came out that Tamerlan Tsarnaev had been buried in Caroline County, local officials said they would review the matter to make sure all protocols were followed.

And if they weren't, county board of supervisors chairman Floyd Thomas said Friday, "We would look into undoing what happened."

Caroline County Sheriff Tony Lippa said, in a statement Saturday, that he and David Storke -- the mayor of Bowling Green, Virginia, who also owns a funeral home -- spent Friday night reviewing the case. That includes looking at Tsarnaev's death certificate, burial permit official disposition, a removal or transportation permit from Massachusetts and deeds recorded at the Caroline County Circuit Court.

Police say the dead suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is the man the FBI identified as Suspect 1. He was killed during the shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts, early April 19. He is pictured here at the 2010 New England Golden Gloves. Police say the dead suspect, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is the man the FBI identified as Suspect 1. He was killed during the shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts, early April 19. He is pictured here at the 2010 New England Golden Gloves.
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Those checks did not turn up anything to indicate the burial was done improperly. In Caroline County, local officials do not need to be consulted or have to approve the burial of a person on county land in advance.

Source: Russia withheld details about Tsarnaev

"Like the rest of America, the citizens of this county were outraged by the Boston Marathon bombings. We too mourned the loss of life, prayed for the survivors and offered our support," Lippa said.

"Unfortunately, we now find ourselves forever connected to this tragedy in the most unsavory way, as the final resting place of one of the alleged terrorists."

As Thomas pointed out, Tamerlan Tsarnaev had "no ties to Caroline County."

His body ended up there nearly a month after he died following a shootout with police just outside Boston, which took place days after the bombing. Most recently, his body was in a funeral home in Worcester, Massachusetts, where protesters appeared frequently outside amid calls for him to be sent back to where his parents live in southern Russia.

That was until a Virginia woman named Martha Mullen came into the picture, reaching out to representatives of her church plus local Muslim, Jewish and Hindu representatives in an effort to find a final resting place for Tsarnaev, according to the Islamic Society of Greater Richmond.

Mullen also talked with her local pastor about the moral implications of her spearheading the effort.

What did suspected bomber's widow know?

"Jesus tells us, 'Love your enemies,'" she said, according to the Islamic Society. "Not to hate them, even after they are dead."

On Thursday morning, Tsarnaev was buried in an unmarked grave in Al-Barzakh Muslim Cemetery in Doswell, Virginia. Tsarnaev's uncle Ruslan Tsarni was a point man in the effort, and he expressed "outrage" that Tsarnaev's own parents "have not been here for their children."

The burial caught people off guard in Caroline County, which has about 30,000 residents. In addition to voicing confusion and disgust, officials expressed concerns that the grave site might become a target for protesters or vandals.

A sheriff's deputy was posted there after the news broke Friday. There were no incidents reported that night and into Saturday, according to the county sheriff's office, which added that the cemetery will get "no more and no less" protection than any other cemetery.

CNN's Lawrence Crook III, Jason Hanna, Justin Lear and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.

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