ABC News reports that there is "mounting evidence" that both Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were involved in a unsolved triple-homicide involving lots of cash, pounds of pot, but not a lot of definitive evidence.
The whole story ties back to a theory that was offered up by BuzzFeed shortly after the Boston Marathon bombing back in April. In 2011, Brandon Mess, a friend and former roommate of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was murdered along with two other men in Mess's apartment in Waltham, Mass., one town over from Watertown, where Dzhokhar was captured, and two towns over from Cambridge, where the Tsarnaevs most recently lived. The bizarre crime appeared to be drug-related and highly personal, as all three victims had their throats slashed, and whoever did left their bodies covered in 7 pounds of marijuana and $5,000 of cash behind. The crime was never solved.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was never a suspect, but after it was announced that he was involved in the Boston bombings, friends and other local residents began to connect dots to the triple-murder. Things that weren't that suspicious before suddenly carried extra meaning. Tsarnaev described Mess as his "best friend," but didn't attend his memorial or funeral. Police had always believed there were two other men in the apartment before the murder, but couldn't identify them. There was no forced entry, suggesting the killer or killers knew the victims. Tsarnaev left the country (on his infamous trip to Russia) just a few months later. (And, if you want to add another layer of significance the murders took place on September 11.)
Today, police told ABC that their forensic evidence from the crime scene provides a "match" to both Tsarnaev brothers and their cell phone records place them in the area on that day. That alone hardly seems conclusive, since they were supposed to be friends with the victim and "the area" seems to be the part of Boston where they spent a lot of their time. Authorities may not want to reveal the more specific, compelling evidence, but they also added that no indictment is forthcoming.
Like many of the witnesses who have provided details about the recent Cleveland kidnapping case that probably aren't totally accurate, anyone trying to connect the two crimes should do so with caution. The friends of Tsarnaev who now wonder about Mess's murder admit they had no suspicion of him before the Boston bombing. Yet, after you find out a close friend is capable of blowing up innocent children with homemade bombs, you're likely to believe almost anything about that friend.
Also, when trying to solve a big puzzle, even the smallest clue or coincidence suddenly seems relevant. On the night they were murdered, Mess and his friends ordered dinner from a restaurant called Gerry's Italian Kitchen. After the Boston bombing, investigators found discarded fireworks in a charity donation box in the parking lot of ... Gerry's Italian Kitchen. Suddenly, local residents remembered that Tamerlan Tsarnaev used to work there and delivered pizza to their house—even though there's no evidence that he ever did either of those things. Gerry's doesn't really have anything to do with either crime, or might have everything to do with both. Remember, what we said about false memories?
If it does turn out that the brothers were involved, that's a convenient end to a baffling mystery, but Tamerlan is already dead and Dhzokhar is likely to get the same punishment, without another triple murder on his rap sheet. There's no need to rush to judgment without more concrete proof.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.