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Originally published Friday, May 3, 2013 at 8:47 PM

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Finding gravesite for bomber is a challenge

A funeral parlor in Worcester familiar with Muslim services said it will handle arrangements for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whose body was released by the state medical examiner Thursday night.

The Associated Press

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A suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings died from gunshot wounds and blunt trauma to his head and torso, a funeral director said Friday.

Worcester funeral-home owner Peter Stefan has 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s body and read details from his death certificate. The certificate cites Tsarnaev’s “gunshot wounds of torso and extremities” and lists the time of his death as 1:35 a.m. on April 19, four days after the deadly bombing, Stefan said.

Tsarnaev died after a gunfight with authorities who had launched a massive manhunt for him and his brother, ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago. Police have said he ran out of ammunition before his younger brother dragged his body under a vehicle while fleeing.

Tsarnaev’s family on Friday was making arrangements for his funeral as investigators searched the woods near a college attended by 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was captured less than a day after his brother’s death.

The funeral parlor in Worcester is familiar with Muslim services and said it will handle arrangements for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whose body was released by the state medical examiner Thursday night.

The body initially was taken to a North Attleborough funeral home, where it was greeted by about 20 protesters. Stefan, owner of Graham Putnam and Mahoney Funeral Parlors in Worcester, an hour’s drive west of Boston, said everybody deserves a dignified burial service no matter the circumstances of his or her death and he is prepared for protests.

“My problem here is trying to find a gravesite. A lot of people don’t want to do it. They don’t want to be involved with this,” said Stefan, who said dozens of protesters gathered outside his funeral home, upset with his decision to handle the funeral. “I keep bringing up the point of Lee Harvey Oswald, Timothy McVeigh or Ted Bundy. Somebody had to do those, too.”

As part of the bombing investigation, federal, state and local 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 looking for but said residents should know there is no threat to public safety.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was found hiding in a tarp-covered boat in a suburban Boston backyard, faces a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill. Three of his college classmates were arrested Wednesday and accused of helping after the bombing to remove a laptop and backpack from his dormitory room before the FBI searched it.

The April 15 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.

The brothers had originally planned the attack for July Fourth, but after they finished assembling the bombs, they decided not to wait, the surviving suspect told interrogators after he was arrested, according to two U.S. officials briefed on the investigation.

Investigators think 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. 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.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security ordered border agents to immediately begin 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 from a senior official at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, David J. Murphy, was circulated Thursday and came one day after President Obama’s 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.

A benefit concert featuring Aerosmith, James Taylor and Jimmy Buffett is scheduled for May 30 at the TD Garden in Boston. The proceeds will go to The One Fund, which has taken in more than $28 million for those injured and the families of those who were killed.

The fund’s administrator, Kenneth Feinberg, said Friday he plans to hold meetings with victims next week and begin cutting checks by the end of June.

Associated Press writers Bob Salsburg, Bridget Murphy and Mark Pratt in Boston and Pete Yost, Eileen Sullivan and Alicia A. Caldwell in Washington contributed to this report.

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