“My second thought was, okay, we can bury Adam Lanza, you know. Or the guy who shot up [Virginia] Tech,” added Mullen, 48. “And this guy for some reason is different. And the only difference that I can tell is that people think that he’s a terrorist or he’s a foreigner or he’s Muslim.”
Her third thought: Maybe she could help. With a flurry of e-mails and calls to faith leaders in Richmond and police officials in Massachusetts, she wound up facilitating Tsarnaev’s burial at a small Islamic cemetery in Doswell.
Having reached out to Jewish, Hindu and Muslim leaders, as well as her own Methodist pastor, Mullen hoped that Tsarnaev’s burial in a plot she located in central Virginia would demonstrate “the peaceful side of faith in action.”
But as news came Friday that the bombing suspect had been quietly interred in Doswell, some residents and officials recoiled at the idea that their community would provide Tsarnaev’s final resting place.
“He shouldn’t have rest,” said Harold Nelson, 53, an elevator mechanic. “I hope his soul is in eternal damnation. He took a lot of innocent life, and [there is] no reason for that.”
Said Charlotte Cropper, a 60-year-old retail clerk: “I think they should have shipped him back to wherever he came from, or did him like they did bin Laden and drop him in the ocean.”
Some residents said they did not want the area, best known as the birthplace of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, linked to a much darker chapter in sports history. The largely rural community is home to Kings Dominion theme park and the Virginia State Fair. Tsarnaev’s grave site is not the sort of local feature officials welcome.
“Caroline County was not consulted or given any input into the decision-making process for determining a burial site for this individual,” County Administrator Charles M. Culley Jr. said in a statement. “We would much prefer to be associated with positive news reports from the national media but unfortunately had no say in the matter.”
Hanover County Board of Supervisors Chairman W. Canova Peterson wanted to make it clear that although the Doswell address crosses over the border between Hanover and Caroline counties, the burial ground is in Caroline. He was not pleased that the cemetery had agreed to take the body.
“What I think is they should have cremated him and put in the Boston municipal dump with the rest of the trash,” Peterson said, adding, “I’m being facetious.”
Peterson said he doubted that any Virginians would make a fuss over the burial by vandalizing. “I don’t expect that at all, particularly from people around here,” he said in a telephone interview.