BOSTON — The family of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was making arrangements for his funeral as investigators on Friday searched the woods near the college attended by his younger brother and alleged accomplice.
A funeral parlor familiar with Muslim services said it will handle arrangements for Tsarnaev, whose body was released by the state medical examiner Thursday night.
The body was taken initially to another funeral home, where it was greeted by about 20 protesters. The owner of Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors, Peter Stefan, said everybody deserves a dignified burial service no matter the circumstances of their death. He said he is prepared for protests.
Tsarnaev, 26, died three days after the deadly April 15 bombing in a getaway attempt in which authorities say he and his brother, ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago, killed a police officer and tossed homemade bombs and grenades at police. The younger brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, ran over his brother’s body as he drove away from the scene, authorities have said.
The medical examiner had yet to release the cause of death, pending the filing of a death certificate.
Relatives had said they would claim the body, but Stefan said funeral arrangements had yet to be worked out.
Meanwhile, two U.S. officials said Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators that he and his brother initially considered setting off their bombs on July 4, the country’s Independence Day.
The brothers decided to carry out the attack sooner when they finished assembling the bombs, the surviving suspect told interrogators after he was arrested, according to two U.S. officials briefed on the investigation. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity, because they were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation.
The bombing, using pressure cookers packed with explosives, nails, ball bearings and metal shards, killed three people and injured more than 260 others near the marathon’s finish line.
Investigators believe some of the explosives used in the attack were assembled in Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s home, though there may have been some assembly elsewhere, one of the officials said. At this point, it does not appear that the brothers ever had big, definitive plans, the official said.
The brothers’ mother insists the allegations against them are lies.
As part of the bombing investigation, authorities were searching the woods near the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth campus, where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a student. Christina DiIorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, could not say what investigators were seeking.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found hiding in a tarp-covered boat in a suburban backyard, faces a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. Three of his college classmates were arrested Wednesday and are accused of helping after the bombing to remove a laptop and backpack from his dormitory room before the FBI searched it.
Meanwhile, the Homeland Security Department ordered border agents to immediately being verifying that every international student who arrives in the U.S. has a valid student visa, according to an internal memorandum obtained Friday by The Associated Press. The new procedure is the government’s first security change directly related to the Boston bombings.
The order was circulated Thursday and came one day after the Obama administration acknowledged that one of the students accused of hiding evidence, Azamat Tazhayakov of Kazakhstan, was allowed to return to the U.S. in January without a valid student visa.
Tazhayakov’s lawyer has said he had nothing to do with the bombing and was shocked by it.