Law enforcement officials are carefully reexamining any possible role that Katherine Russell Tsarnaeva, the wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, played in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, according to three federal officials with knowledge of the investigation. The intense scrutiny comes as a result of information provided by Dzokhar Tsarnaev in his on-again, off-again interrogation by FBI officials before he was read his rights by a federal magistrate.
According to those officials, Dzokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators that the information that set in motion the series of events leading to Tamerlan’s death and Dzokhar’s apprehension came in a phone call from Katherine Russell Tsarnaeva to her husband. “She notified him and there certainly didn’t seem to be any notion of surprise – just a report that ‘you’re being watched,’” said one official with knowledge of the investigation. Tsarnaev had seen the photographs and videos distributed by the FBI on television and called her husband to give him a heads up.
After receiving that phone call, authorities believe, Tamerlan decided he could not continue to hide from law enforcement and triggered the brothers’ bizarre flight from authorities – a wild chase that included the murder of an MIT police officer, a convenience-store robbery, a carjacking, shootouts with police officers, the death of Tamerlan and the capture of Dzokhar.
An attorney for Katherine Russell Tsarnaeva said earlier this week that her client knew nothing about her husband’s plans and wanted to help authorities conducting the investigation. “She is doing everything she can to assist with the investigation,” said Amato DeLuca, her attorney, in a statement. “The report of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all.”
Tsarnaeva, 24, grew up in Rhode Island and converted to Islam after meeting Tamerlan Tsarnaev. She has been staying with her parents in Rhode Island.
FBI officials were angered when a federal magistrate visited Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s hospital room to read him his Miranda rights. Two government officials tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the FBI officials had been notified that the magistrate had been dispatched to the hospital, but the interrogators were frustrated that the interrogation was interrupted. “They didn’t even have enough time to reprioritize their questions,” says one source familiar with the questioning. “At the very least they should have been given the opportunity to make sure they’d asked all of their highest-priority questions.”
Sources tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the questioning of Dzokhar was particularly slow-going because of his injuries. And though the interrogation lasted some 16 hours, it was stopped frequently to accommodate the suspect and his ability to communicate. The younger Tsarnaev stopped cooperating immediately after he was given the Miranda warning.