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Interring The Infamous

An FBI agent walks along Franklin Street in Watertown, Mass., Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP)

An FBI agent walks along Franklin Street in Watertown, Mass., Thursday, April 25, 2013. (AP)

Interring the remains of the infamous has always been controversial. Which is why what remains of the most heinous humans is frequently destroyed. Timothy McVeigh, Columbine shooters Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, and Newtown killer Adam Lanza, were all cremated.

Martin Luther King’s assassin, James Earl Ray, was cremated and flown out of the country, sprinkled over Ireland. After accused Boston murders Sacco and Vanzetti were executed, their remains were cremated and flown back to their native Italy for disposal as well.

But there are other cases, with more earthly markers: The Boston Strangler is buried in Puritan Lawn Memorial Park cemetery in Peabody. And Charles Stuart, accused of shooting his pregnant wife in 1989, is six feet under Woodlawn Cemetery in Everett.

The legal issues around the burial of human remains is a tricky area of the law, as the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, is proving. Part of the reason, is that there simply isn’t much law covering what happens to us after we die.

Guests

Deborah Becker, reporter, WBUR

Tanya Marsh, professor of law at Wake Forest University. You can read her recent piece on thee legal issues involved in the burial of Tamerlan Tsarneav here.

More

Huffington Post “This situation raises several important questions regarding the disposition of human remains. After a person dies, we clearly need to make decisions regarding final disposition, for public health reasons as well as closure for the family and community. But what happens when the remains are those of a person believed to have committed a horrific, recent crime?”

ABC News “While there has been no formal application for a burial permit there, Cambridge City Manager Robert Healey said Tsarnaev wasn’t welcome to be buried in the American city he called home.”


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