Three more suspects have been charged in relation to April's Boston Marathon bombings — not for any role in the bombing itself, but for helping to destroy evidence for friend and alleged bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. According to documents released by the FBI, University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth students Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov knew Tsarnaev from college. In the wake of the bombing, both these two and a third man named Robel Phillipos apparently realized Tsarnaev was one of the suspects and decided to help him by getting rid of evidence. Now, Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are charged with obstruction of justice, while Phillipos is accused of lying to the police when questioned.
"You better not text me."
Kadyrbayev had apparently met with Tsarnaev two days after the explosions, before police had announced any leads on the case. The night the FBI released images of its suspects, though, Kadyrbayev texted Tsarnaev to tell him that he looked like one of the bombers. "Lol," Tsarnaev replied, among other things. "You better not text me." Though the details aren't all clear, the three apparently proceeded to Tsarnaev's apartment, possibly spurred by an ominous message that said, "I'm about to leave if you need something in my room take it."
When they arrived, a roommate let them in, and they apparently found a backpack containing several fireworks, their powder drained. They decided to take the evidence with them, leaving with both the backpack and Tsarnaev's laptop, which they allegedly took to avoid looking like they were stealing one of his bags.
After returning home, Kadyrbayev threw the backpack in the garbage; it was later discovered in a landfill. All three men have admitted to removing the backpack from Tsarnaev's room, and Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov have said that they decided to get rid of it after seeing reports that Tsarnaev was responsible for the bombing, though Phillipos initially gave what the FBI believes were false reports during his early questioning. He faces up to eight years in prison and a $250,000 fine, while the other two face a maximum of five years and a fine of the same amount.
Three additional suspects taken into custody in Marathon bombing case. Details to follow.— Boston Police Dept. (@Boston_Police) May 1, 2013
Original: Two suspects were initially identified in the bombings: 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died of injuries after a police shootout, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who has been charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and faces multiple life sentences. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier this week that officials were collecting DNA samples from women close to the two, including Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow, after female DNA was found on the explosives.
However, that doesn't mean any of these women are suspects or were arrested — it's not even certain that the DNA indicates a woman was involved in the bombings. Sources have toldThe Boston Globe that the three suspects knew Dzhokhar from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and helped him "after the fact," something which is also unverified at this point. We'll be updating with more details as they come out.
Update: The Boston Police Department has posted an update on its site, reiterating the arrest and saying there is no threat to public safety. The FBI, which initially took charge of the investigations but later handed back the crime scene to Boston's police, does not appear to have commented on this development. Text below:
Please be advidsed that there is not [sic] threat to public safety. Three additional suspects have been taken into custody in connection to the attack on the Boston Marathon. Aside from the aforementioned, there is no additional info to release at this time. Additional details will be provided when they become available. No info available at this time relative to a press conference.
Update 12:30pm EDT: The Boston Globe now reports that Governor Deval Patrick says the three suspects will be arraigned later this afternoon. According to Patrick, the three had no role in the bombing but were arrested for later crimes. Sources have told The Globe that two of the suspects were Kazakh nationals who were questioned earlier in the bombing probe and currently face charges of overstaying their student visas, but this has not been confirmed.
Update 12:58pm EDT: The two suspects from Kazakhstan are reported to be college friends of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, according to the Associated Press. CBS Boston is reporting these two suspects' names to be "Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev", and goes on to say they will be charged with "conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements." The report does not provide the name of the third suspect, but goes on to say it is a male native to Massachusetts, who will be charged with making false statements. The actual names and charges have yet to be unsealed but when they are, we will update.
Update 3:30pm EDT: The FBI has officially released reports on the suspects, including full names. Dias Kadyrbayev and Azamat Tazhayakov, both Kazakh nationals in the US on student visas, are charged with obstructing justice by conspiring to destroy evidence for Dzhokhar — namely, a laptop and a backpack filled with fireworks. A third suspect, Robel Phillipos, is accused of lying to police when they asked him about the incident.
Carl Franzen contributed to this report.