BOSTON – After Peter Stefan offered to handle funeral arrangements for a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, he was besieged by criticism, picketers and angry phone calls from people who called him a “traitor” and “un-American.”
A year later, Stefan is writing a book about his experience.
“I just wanted to put down exactly what happened and what I felt like. I got loads of threats,” Stefan said Wednesday.
“But you can’t just bury people who are on the straight and narrow. What are you going to do with the rest of them? We’re not barbarians here. We bury the dead.”
Stefan, the owner of a Worcester funeral home, said he still feels disturbed by the reaction he got when he agreed to take the remains of Tamerlan Tsarnaev last year after a funeral home in North Attleborough, where the body was initially sent, was picketed by protesters.
Stefan’s funeral home was also picketed and it took days to find a cemetery willing to bury the remains. Tsarnaev was finally buried in a Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Va.
Stefan said he did not accept payment for his services but asked, instead, for a contribution to a fund he set up five years ago to help low-income people pay for their prescription drugs and co-pays for doctor visits. Tsarnaev’s uncle contributed $1,500 to the fund, Stefan said.
The funeral director said he has been working on the book for a few months and is currently negotiating with a publisher. He hopes the book — tentatively titled “Last Rites for the Boston Marathon Bomber” — will be published this summer. Stefan’s plans for the book were first reported by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
Twin bombings at the April 15, 2013, marathon killed three people and injured more than 260. Authorities say Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, built two pressure cooker bombs and placed them near the marathon finish line.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev died following a shootout with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is currently awaiting trial.
“We tried to do things like they should be done, and I think we did it with respect,” Stefan said.
“People called me and said, ‘Why did you take him?’ and I said, ‘We bury the dead — period.’”