A funeral home has claimed the body of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev who died in a gun battle with police after an intense manhunt.

Massachusetts Department of Public Safety spokesman Terrel Harris said a funeral home retained by Mr Tsarnaev's family picked up the 26-year-old's remains.

Authorities are now closer to being able to make public Mr Tsarnaev's cause of death.

His widow, Katherine Russell, who has been living with her parents in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, learned this week that the medical examiner was ready to release his body and wanted it turned over to his side of the family.

Mr Tsarnaev's uncle Ruslan Tsarni, of Maryland, said the family would take the body.

"Of course, family members will take possession of the body," Mr Tsarni said.

After a hearse believed to be carrying Mr Tsarnaev's body departed Boston, television stations reported that their helicopters followed it to the Dyer Lake Funeral Home in North Attleboro.

Funeral Director Tim Nye said the body was only brought to his funeral home temporarily and was transported to another facility, but he did not say where.

"He is not at our funeral home and we won't be handling final arrangements," Mr Nye said.

Mr Tsarnaev, who had appeared in surveillance photos wearing a black cap and was identified as Suspect No 1, died three days after the bombing.

Authorities said that during the gun battle with police, the Tsarnaev brothers, ethnic Chechens from Russia who came to the United States about a decade ago, set off a pressure-cooker bomb and tossed grenades before the older brother ran out of ammunition.

Police said they tackled Tamerlan Tsarnaev and began to handcuff him but had to dive out of the way at the last second when the younger brother, 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, drove a stolen car at them.

They said the younger brother ran over his brother's body as he drove away from the scene to escape.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured later, wounded and bloody, hiding in a boat in a suburban Boston backyard.

He is in a federal prison and faces a charge of using a weapon of mass destruction to kill.