NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. >> The mother-in-law of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect killed during a gunbattle with police said today her family is sickened by the horror inflicted by the deadly attack.
Judith Russell was distraught as she made the comments Friday evening through a crack in her front door in a large house on a cul-de-sac in a quiet, wooded suburban neighborhood. She spoke shortly after Department of Homeland Security agents escorted a car containing two women, one of whom was shielding her face, to the home, where it drove into the garage. Neighbors said they saw state troopers and black SUVs in the neighborhood Friday morning.
Russell’s oldest daughter, Katherine, was married to Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen who came to the U.S. from Russia and was believed to be Suspect No. 1 in the Boston Marathon bombings, the one in sunglasses and a dark baseball cap in surveillance camera pictures.
“Our daughter has lost her husband today, the father of her child. We cannot begin to comprehend how this horrible tragedy occurred,” Russell said. “In the aftermath of the Patriots’ Day horror we know that we never really knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Our hearts are sickened by the knowledge of the horror he has inflicted.”
Tsarnaev, 26, and his younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was captured Friday night in Watertown, Mass., just west of Boston, are the suspects in Monday’s marathon bombing, which killed three people and wounded more than 180 others. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed overnight following a spate of violence in which authorities say the brothers shot and killed a Massachusetts Institute of Technology policeman, severely wounded another officer and hurled explosives at police during a car chase.
One of the brothers’ uncles, Ruslan Tsarni, of Montgomery Village, Md., had pleaded on television as the manhunt for his nephew dragged on: “Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness.”
Meanwhile, Russell pleaded for privacy after Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s death. When asked how she was doing, she said, “Basically, he’s dead and we have to deal with it.”
Neighbor Paula Gillette, who lives across the street, said Katherine Russell left for college a few years ago and when she came back she would dress in Muslim garb with head coverings and loose, flowing clothing. Gillette said she thought Russell had gone to Suffolk University in Boston. She said she figured Russell met someone and changed her lifestyle.
Gillette said Russell and her husband had a young daughter but Russell appeared to be living at the house without her husband. She said she would see him occasionally in the past several years outside loading the car, but only from far away, although she noted that she didn’t notice anything unusual about him. While she hadn’t seen Russell in a year or more, she had recently seen the child, whom she estimated to be around 2 years old.
Gillette said Russell and her parents have been good neighbors.
“Everything looked very peaceful,” Gillette said.
The Russell family has three daughters, neighbors said. Katherine graduated from North Kingstown High School in 2007, and her yearbook entry listed her future plans as college and the Peace Corps.