"Once the neighbors find out who's coming, they're going to come out," he said.
The founder of the organization that built Colorado's largest mosque, Sheikh Abu-Omar Almubarac, says he is offering to bury Tsarnaev in a Denver-area Muslim cemetery. He says he'll bury Tsarnaev as long as his family can get the body to Denver.
If Russia refuses to accept the body, Cambridge may be forced to take it, said Wake Forest University professor Tanya Marsh, an expert in U.S. law on the disposal of human remains.
Massachusetts law requires every community to provide a suitable place to bury its residents, she said. Cambridge's appeal to the family not to ask it to bury the body is likely a way to set up its defense if the family goes to court to try to force the burial, Marsh said.
Such a case would be unprecedented in Massachusetts, she said. She added that even in a country that's had its share of notorious accused killers, this kind of opposition to a burial is unheard of and is exposing holes in the law, Marsh said.
"It's a mess," she said. "We're really sort of in uncharted territory."
Gov. Deval Patrick said the question of what to do with the body is a "family issue" that should not be decided by the state or federal government. He said family members had "options" and he hoped they would make a decision soon.
He declined to say whether he thought it would be appropriate for the body to be buried in Massachusetts.
"We showed the world in the immediate aftermath of the attacks what a civilization looks like, and I'm proud of what we showed, and I think we continue to do that by stepping back and let the family make their decisions," the governor told reporters.