Richmond woman coordinated Tsarnaev's burial in VA

Exclusive: Interview with Martha Mullen
Published: May. 10, 2013 at 6:13 PM EDT|Updated: May. 20, 2013 at 2:13 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond woman who coordinated efforts to bury the suspected Boston Marathon bomber in Virginia says she was motivated by her faith.

"Jesus tells us 'love your enemies'," said Martha Mullen in a press release. "Not to hate them even after they are dead."

In an exclusive interview with NBC12's Rachel DePompa, she says she was appalled at the reports of people protesting outside the funeral home.

"Fundamentally, it struck me as wrong," said Mullen. "We've buried other bad people, so the difference only that seemed to me that difference was the fact he was Muslim."

Mullen started working with local faith leaders in and around Richmond on Tuesday to find a permanent resting place for Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a police shooting on April 19. Mullen worked with representatives of the United Methodist church she belongs to, as well as to representatives from local Muslim, Jewish and Hindu communities.

"It's not up to me to judge or any of us to judge," said Mullen. "What this person did, Tamerlan did. It's between him and God, and God is the person who judges the soul - but the body belongs to us to bury."

Once the administration of the Al-Barzakh Cemetery in Doswell offered to donate the cemetery plot, Mullen worked with the Worcester, MA Chief of Police, the funeral home director in Watertown and Tsarnaev's uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, to coordinate the transfer.

"We are all brothers and sisters in our humanity. Muslims, Jews, and Christians all believe we are created by God out of one man, a soul and a body. To God belongs the soul, and He has the final judgment," said one administrator in the press release. "What Tsarnaev did is between him and God. We strongly disagree with his actions, but that does not release us from our obligation to return his body to the earth."

"I feel at peace," said Mullen. "I feel a sense of peace that it was the right decision no matter what happens. It was the right thing to do."

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