INVESTIGATORS in the Boston bombing case want to find out what Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his wife discussed when he phoned her a few hours after the FBI released photos of him and his brother as suspects in the deadly attack, a federal law enforcement official said Thursday.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died not long after the conversation during a shootout with police that left his 19-year-old brother, Dzhokhar, seriously injured.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has been charged in connection with the April 15 bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260, was captured a few hours later while hiding in a boat in a backyard in Watertown, Mass. He is currently being held at a prison medical centre.
That same evening, police say, three classmates of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth allegedly concluded he was one of the suspects, went to his dorm room and removed his backpack and laptop. A federal complaint charges they took the items to try to keep Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from getting into trouble over the bombings.
The content of the phone conversation between Tamerlan and his wife, Katherine Russell, has not been disclosed, but authorities want to discuss it with her, the law enforcement official said.
The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said investigators are seeking Russell's co-operation in learning more about Tsarnaev's activities and communications leading up to the attacks.
Russell, a physician's daughter, met Tamerlan at Suffolk University, according to her lawyer. She converted to Islam and married him in 2010.
Russell's attorney, Amato DeLuca, said in a written statement Wednesday his client "will continue to meet with law enforcement, as she has done for many hours over the past week, and provide as much assistance to the investigation as she can."
Earlier this week, federal investigators took a DNA sample from Russell as part of the inquiry that also involves analysis of remains of a pressure-cooker device detonated at the Boston Marathon finish line.
Authorities believe the pieces contain DNA and fingerprints that could assist in tracking the origin of the components or possible accomplices.
On Monday, FBI agents also visited the North Kingstown, R.I., home of Russell's parents, where she has been staying, and carried away several bags, according to FBI spokesman Jason Pack. Russell did not speak to reporters as she left her attorneys' office in Providence later in the day.
Attorneys have previously said Russell and her family were in shock when they learned of the allegations against her husband and brother-in-law.
-- USA Today