Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Secret Grave Site Is a Secret No More

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 10 2013 1:56 PM

Tamerlan Tsarnaev's Secret Grave Site Is a Secret No More

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Tamerlan Tsarnaev (R), in an FBI handout photo.

Photo provided by FBI via Getty Images

The previously undisclosed location of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's grave site is a secret no longer. The man believed to be the mastermind of the Boston Marathon bombing is buried in a Muslim cemetery in central Virginia, according to the woman who says she arranged for his burial.

Al-Barzakh Cemetery is in Doswell, a town that (until today, anyway) was probably best known as the birthplace of Secretariat. The woman who says she's responsible for finding a cemetery for the elder Tsarnaev brother is Martha Mullen, 48, and while some might wonder why she'd make public the general location of the grave site, it's hard not to admire her reasons for getting involved.

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She says that she felt like she had to take action after hearing about the protests outside of Peter Stefan's Massachusetts funeral home, where the body was being held while local officials prevented it from being buried anywhere near Boston. Here's Mullen explaining her rationale to the Boston Globe:

"[The protests] portrayed America at its worst," she said in an interview with the Globe this morning. "The fact that people were picketing this poor man [Stefan] who was just trying to help really upset me."
Mullen, a licensed professional counselor who has lived in Richmond for most of her life, said she was sitting in a Starbucks Tuesday when it hit her: She could be the one to end the controversy.
"Jesus says [to] love our enemies," said Mullen, who holds a degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio. "So I was sitting in Starbucks and thought, maybe I’m the one person who needs to do something."

And do something she did. Mullen tracked down the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia, who offered a plot at Al-Barzakh. She then contacted the Worcester police, who worked with the Islamic Funeral Services of Virginia to get the body from Worcester to the cemetery for burial. City police announced the burial only after the body was removed and entombed. Tamerlan's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, has since confirmed that his nephew was buried in Virginia. He's been taking care of Tamerlan's burial arrangements on behalf of the family after the suspect's widow waived her right to choose his burial location.

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.