Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
New Details on Deadly Boston Shootout; U.S. Official: No Hard Evidence Of Bombing Accomplices; Bombing Suspect: Afghanistan, Iraq Wars Motivating Factors For Attack; Charges Dropped Against Ricin Suspect; Midwest Braces For More Flooding
Aired April 23, 2013 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much.
Good evening, everyone. We've got breaking news tonight here on many fronts from Boston. And in a moment you'll meet the man who came face-to-face with the cornered younger bombing suspect in his boat. His account different from the story that we've all been hearing for the last several days.
Just imagine what you would have done in his shoes. You go into the backyard, take a look and see this. Only not from a chopper, not in black and white, but up close in bloody living color. You'll hear from him ahead.
You'll also hear from a Watertown man who photographed the firefight on the street outside his house. The images are utterly breathtaking. This one showing the two suspects taking aim at police at the end of that chase Thursday night. Another shows the wrecked police SUV down at the bottom right there that a police officer used in a move straight out of an action film putting it in gear, letting the vehicle roll empty to draw fire and give fellow officers a moment to get in better position to take down the older suspect. We have much more on that firefight tonight.
Other late developments. The local D.A. here saying that Massachusetts will not pursue state charges against the surviving suspect. Leaving all prosecution to the feds. Additionally he says the 19-year-old may soon be relocated from Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital because some families of the victims being treated there object to him being in that hospital.
We're also learning that the suspect had told investigators the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were the motivation for his brother and himself. That's what a government official is telling us. We learned as well that the older suspect bought a large amount of fireworks leading up to the attacks, which may help explain the process by which they perfected their bombs.
In addition to all of that, people who live and work on this stretch of Boylston Street were briefly allowed back today. It is still a no-go area for vehicles and for the general public.
And in a private ceremony family members held a funeral mass for 8-year-old Martin Richard. "We laid our son Martin to rest," his parents said. "And he is now at peace."
We're going to have a memorial service coming up. And it was a private funeral service today.
A lot to talk about in the hour ahead. First the latest on the investigation from Drew Griffin and also from Jake Tapper, both of whom join me now.
Jake, you have more information as to what might have been a motivating factor for these brothers. What can you tell us?
JAKE TAPPER, ANCHOR, "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER": Well, Anderson, we told you last night that according to a U.S. government official, the initial investigations, these initial interviews that they're doing with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev he indicated that he and his brother were acting alone, with -- no help from any foreign terrorist organization and that they are motivated by jihadi thoughts.
We found out a little bit more about that today, the idea that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were part of that. The idea that Islam is under attack and they needed to fight back. Iraq and Afghanistan being examples of that -- of that perception. Again, this is just what Dzhokhar is saying. It's not as if anyone is taking his word for it. They are going to investigate more of what he's saying. But this is what investigators are being told.
In addition, Anderson, we also told you last night how Dzhokhar and his brother were self-radicalized, according to Dzhokhar, that they watched YouTube videos on the Internet and that's how they became radicalized.
And one of the things that the government official is telling me is that those videos from Anwar al-Awlaki, the cleric who was killed several years ago in a drone attack, they are likely, likely, this official says, to have been part of this video radicalization -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jake, appreciate that update.
Drew, what are you learning?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: We went to Watertown today and we talked to the police chief and, Anderson, we're finding out some incredible details about the night of that massive shooting that took place in Watertown. And the heroic events that took place there. Specifically one sergeant who really -- you talked about heroes, this is an action movie guy that -- this is what they write action movies about.
Imagine him driving right into the midst of a firefight and not even knowing it and take a listen to what happens next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF ED DEVEAU, WATERTOWN POLICE: Oh, yes. There is a serious gunfight going on. The second person on the scene, one of my sergeants, he pulled up. And he immediately gets at least one shot right through his windshield. So he is under fire as soon as he shows up. And he, again, just great -- you know, they don't teach you this stuff at the police academy. You know you don't plan for this, you don't train for this. He has the -- I don't know how to describe it.
The courage and determination to keep fighting and he decides to put the car in gear because his car is taking fire. They're shooting right at him in that car.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: And so under this incredible fire, which sounds really like it was a battle taking place in Iraq or Afghanistan. This sergeant, who's a police sergeant in a sleepy town, Watertown, Massachusetts, decides to use his SUV as basically a battering ramp to give his fellow officers a little time to get back from the firing brothers. Here's what happened next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEVEAU: And he puts it in gear and lets it roll down the street while he's able to get out and take up a position so he's a little bit safer. And at the end he said to my captain, you know, I hope the chief is not mad the cruise is a little bit damaged. And I said, Sarg, are you kidding me? You know, they're going to be writing about you in the textbooks now. That was brilliant under very difficult situation to be able to think that through and be able to do that.
GRIFFIN: Let me make sure I understand that. He gets out of the car and lets his car float on into the (INAUDIBLE).
DEVEAU: Right. And so they think he's still in the car. So they're unloading on the car while he is able to take up a position to the side and start, you know, returning fire.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: We saw that SUV come out with a wound in the front. The back windows are completely shot out. We didn't know what the story was until today.
COOPER: Right. Right.
GRIFFIN: And just amazing that he just floated this car right down there thinking --
COOPER: And Jake Tapper talked to an eyewitness who saw it. I want to ask Jake about that in a second but some of the streets in Watertown are still shut down. Are they still investigating? I mean that's --
GRIFFIN: They are still investigating. They're -- it looks to me like they are trying to figure out the trail that Dzhokhar took heading down to the boat. The boat area where the boat was found is still closed off. So these streets will be open, but again, meticulous detail in examining every piece of evidence.
COOPER: Jake, as I said, you caught up with a guy who is actually watching some of that scene from the window of his apartment a few floors above it. What did he tell you? Because -- and he also took pictures.
TAPPER: Yes, it's incredible. Andrew Kitzenberg is his name. And he and three housemates live on Laurel Street. And he had the presence of mind when he heard the gunfire to go and while ducking hold up his phone and take pictures while live tweeting, while live tweeting. And here's one of the things he said to me when I interviewed him earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDREW KITZENBERG, WITNESSED SHOOTOUT: As soon as I saw the two shooters and saw that it was gunfire, I ran immediately up the stairs to my bedroom on the third floor. And I also got my camera right up against the windows and the glass.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, Anderson, let me walk you through some of the pictures that we'll show on the screen and I can explain what Andrew explained to me. First of all there's this one where you see the brothers, you see the shooters firing at the police. And what's circled there on that picture, that is one of the bombs. These pressure cooker bombs that they used during the terrorist attack.
And they're behind the SUV there. I believe that's the one that they carjacked. And then the next picture is of after Tamerlan went to the police. He charged into the police with his guns, and Tamerlan was taken down, and you see him in the distance being taken down. Now that's not the right picture. That's the picture. Circle there is Tamerlan on the ground, and the car that is driving towards him, that is Dzhokhar driving towards the police and his brother. This is after, of course, Tamerlan has been taken down.
And then the third picture, that's the one that you guys showed before, if you can put it back, is the car in which they had all their bombs. And this is when the bomb squad sends a robot bomb detector over -- there it is. Robot bomb detector over to check and inspect the car for explosives.
Really just remarkable photographs. We would -- we would never have any images of this gunfire if it weren't for Andrew Kitzenberg who took pictures. And we should also point out he is seeking people to donate to the One Fund in exchange for showing these -- letting us have the license for these pictures -- Anderson.
COOPER: So, Jake, what he is saying, what this eyewitness is saying is that he saw the vehicle allegedly driven by Dzhokhar literally drive through the road block, basically just kind of smash its way through the police roadblock. And if that's true, did he also see --
TAPPER: That's right.
COOPER: -- the vehicle as some have reported drive over his brother?
TAPPER: I don't think that -- he didn't tell me that he saw that. He saw -- he saw the car go through and get away. But at that point he was about half a block away. He couldn't get all the things -- all the visions in detail.
COOPER: OK. And Drew, you have some information about some fireworks or pyrotechnics that were purchased before the bombing.
GRIFFIN: Yes, Tamerlan Tsarnaev went to New Hampshire where fireworks are legal to purchase. February 6th, and he bought two large fireworks. He actually went in and said what's the biggest, loudest thing you have? And this is what he bought. I think we have a picture of it, two of these locked and load kits. It's about $200 worth.
And these are reloadable mortar kits of fireworks. You have to register with an I.D. You have to show your I.D. so the store owner actually went back to his records and found this for the police and went to the police just a few days ago with the information that said he was there. But he didn't --
COOPER: And if memory serves me correct the police said that one of the things they found I think in the search of their apartment was some pyrotechnics.
GRIFFIN: In the dorm room of the younger one.
GRIFFIN: They found a large pyrotechnics.
COOPER: And we don't know if that's the same one --
GRIFFIN: Don't know. But there's a lot of -- you know, that you could use this. You could use the powder inside. You could test with the powder. Most of the bomb experts we talked to say we probably wouldn't use this for the actual pressure cooker bombs because this wasn't the right -- not strong enough, et cetera. But it does show that he was buying fireworks. Not only buying fireworks, but not afraid to show his I.D. and get it registered.
COOPER: And also this goes back to February 6th which shows obviously a level of planning. Again, we're all just piecing these puzzles together as are investigators.
Jake, I appreciate it. Drew Griffin, thanks very much. A very full day. Nothing compared, of course, to the night that David Henneberry had on Friday. That's his backyard and the boat that Dzhokhar was found in, that is where -- that's his boat. That's where the suspect was discovered by police. You may have heard the story of how it happened. That story, the one we've all been hearing publicly, is not quite true. Tonight for the first time Mr. Henneberry is telling it like it was. Speaking to CNN affiliate WCVB he says a torn boat cover was not what drew him outside and he did not, as reported, see blood on the boat's exterior. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID HENNEBERRY, WATERTOWN BOAT OWNER WHO FOUND SUSPECT NUMBER TWO: I know people say there's blood on the boat. He saw blood and went in. Not true.
ED HARDING, WCVB: Not true?
HENNEBERRY: Not true. No.
HARDING: Now the word is you saw the boat. You pulled back the wrapping. You saw a body. It moved and you called 911.
HENNEBERRY: Oh no, no.
HENNEBERRY: No, no, no.
HARDING: So he went to the garage and grabbed a stepladder.
HENNEBERRY: I got I think three steps up the ladder. And I was -- I rolled it up. And I can see through now the shrink wrap. I didn't expect to see anything. And I looked in the boat over here, on the floor, and I see blood. And --
HARDING: A lot of blood?
HENNEBERRY: A good amount of blood.
HENNEBERRY: And my eyes went to the other side of the engine box. The engine box is in the middle. There was a body.
HARDING: And at that moment what did you do? What were you thinking at that moment?
HENNEBERRY: Oh my god.
HARDING: He couldn't see suspect number two's face. He was glad he couldn't see his face.
HENNEBERRY: Well, I know I took three steps up the ladder. I don't remember stepping down off the ladder. This hits you more afterwards when you think, my god, he probably slept last night. This guy could be in -- that -- you know, I don't know. It just -- it's surreal.
HARDING: In that instant police responded, and he and his wife were taken away.
People are calling you a national hero.
HENNEBERRY: If people who were killed can get some --
HARDING: You know, in many ways they do.
HENNEBERRY: Then I'm at peace with it. You know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Remarkable story. And Mr. Henneberry says he doesn't want to be reimbursed for the damage to his boat. He wants all the money to go to the bombing survivors and their families and says he's got a perfectly good canoe in the garage that he can use in the future.
Let us know what you think about the investigation, what you've been hearing, you can follow me on Twitter @andersoncooper.
Coming up tonight, scrutiny over what Homeland Security and the FBI knew about Tamerlan Tsarnaev and when they knew it. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the system -- obviously, we're outside a fire house. The firefighters are responding to a call.
Also ahead tonight, a statement today -- a statement today on the investigation from Tamerlan's wife Katy Russell. We'll tell you what she is saying and what we've learned about her today. That's still to come.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're coming to you from a cold and rainy Boston tonight on Boylston Street. Just steps away from the second bombing site off to my left. Take a look behind me, though, across the street. The neighborhood fire station, it's one of the oldest fire stations in the city, Engine 33, they've got signs there, remembering the four people who lost their lives. The three who lost their lives in the blast. And Officer Sean Collier who of course was allegedly killed by the suspects.
Our breaking news tonight among many other late developments. An official telling us that the surviving marathon bombing suspect says he and his brother were motivated in part by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying as well that they were self-radicalized from the Internet. Casting doubt on that, however, is the older suspect's trip to Russia last year, including hot beds of radicalism.
There's also the interest a year earlier that Russian authorities showed in his activities. However, back home the focus on him faded and lawmakers now want to know why. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano getting grilled on Capitol Hill today, including this from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Was your department aware of his travels to Russia, and if you weren't, the reason?
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The travel in 2012 that you're referring to? Yes. The system pinged when he was leaving the United States. By the time he returned all investigations had been -- the matter had been closed.
GRASSLEY: Is it true that his identity document did not match his airline ticket and if so, why did TSA miss the discrepancy?
NAPOLITANO: There was a mismatch there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, there was that and there was also more. Joe Johns now with what else we know and what more we still do not.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tamerlan Tsarnaev first hit the FBI's radar in 2011 when the Russian government told the agency they should check him out.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: The Russian FSB sent a sent a letter to the FBI and other agencies that we think this guy has become radical. You need to watch him.
JOHNS: An FBI statement said the request from Russia was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country's region to join us specified underground groups.
The FBI says it checks U.S. government data bases, telephone communications, online activity. And also actually interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and family members. But the FBI says it did not find any terrorism activity so it gave that information to Russia and asked for but did not receive more specific or additional info. Case closed.
TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Because additional information didn't come in, then the FBI says well, for our purposes under our system and with all the records and the investigation that we're allowed to do here, it hasn't risen to the level to warrant further investigation or full time surveillance.
JOHNS: A federal law enforcement official agrees and said Tamerlan was not on a terror watch list or any no-fly list because the U.S. never deemed him a threat. So there were no alarm bells when Tsarnaev came back to the U.S. six months later.
NAPOLITANO: By the time he returned, all investigations had been -- the matter had been closed.
JOHNS: But even so, it's not clear if the Department of Homeland Security which is charged with monitoring travel even know that Tsarnaev was on the FBI's radar. Feds failing to talk to each other was supposed to be a lesson learned from 9/11.
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), VICE CHAIR, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: We are trying to make sure that all of that information that was available was shared. If it wasn't, then there may be somebody who dropped the ball.
JOHNS: A U.S. official said even when there's a hit in the system it doesn't prompt anyone in law enforcement to take action. It's just monitoring for suspicious travel.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
COOPER: Well, we're getting more breaking news now. This just in. A U.S. official telling CNN's Jessica Yellin about the ongoing investigation that so far there is no hard evidence of any accomplices. There are no known connections to extremists. They still are not certain what radicalized them. Additionally investigators had determined that the pressure cookers used in the attack actually came from the department store Macy's.
About the decision to publicize the suspect's photos, the official says investigators did that because too many people in the public were falsely accusing the wrong people of actually being the bombers.
Finally investigators believe the older bomber who did the carjacking and the younger brother was nearby at the time and then they picked him up.
Let's dig deeper now with national security analyst Peter Bergen. Former CIA officer Bob Baer. Former Commonwealth Homeland Security advisor Juliette Kayyem, who joins me here, and senior international correspondent Nic Robertson who is in Dagestan.
Nic, let me start with you. What have you learned about the older brother's travels to Russia last year. Do we really have a complete timeline of where he was and when at this point?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, really, six months that are mostly unaccounted for. He did come here to Makhachkala in Dagestan. He did stay with his father, neighbors, people in local stores around where he lived. Did report seeing him. And his family is very much in denial about his involvement and the local community doesn't really want to open up about where he was.
Were there holes in the period of time that he was here. His aunt has said that he went to Chechnya for a couple of days, but it really is far more questions than answers at the moment. Who he was meeting, what precisely he was doing here. So there's a huge amount we just don't know at the moment -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, what I really don't understand is this is a guy who didn't have a job, apparently didn't have much money. Had to drop out of community college because he didn't have money and yet he manages to spend six months in Russia. He has a wife and a newborn baby, and he abandons them for six months? It just seems very questionable to me.
Peter, we note the surviving brother has indicated to authorities that no foreign terrorist groups were involved. Do you buy that? I mean, do you believe that these two brothers if in fact they are guilty could have devised, built and tested these weapons on their own here in Massachusetts, or do you think there is some kind of overseas component to the training in some way?
PETER BERGEN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: I think it's incredibly unlikely that they didn't get some training to blow up two bombs simultaneously that actually worked without training or practice. It's extremely unlikely. And if you look at the two cases of jihadi terrorists really seriously intending to make bombs in this country post 9/11. One was the Time Square bomber in 2010. He got training from the Pakistani Taliban.
The other one was a guy called Najibullah Zazi. He was planning to blow up bombs in the Manhattan subway in 2009. He got training from al Qaeda. There was one other case of a very confused -- young man who converted to Islam. Seemed to also admire Timothy McVeigh. He tried to build a bomb. He almost killed himself in 2011.
And that's the only other example I can think of for somebody who was sort of jihadist tendencies who tried to do it -- you know, go it alone in this country without training and it almost killed him.
COOPER: Bob Baer, I know you also think that there must have been some sort of overseas or there must have been some level of training or bomb testing to take place. I talked to Tom Fuentes, the former assistant director of the FBI earlier today. He was saying he thought it could be done just on the Internet. And he used the example of the Toronto 18. He said somebody involved in that plot claimed that they've just got information over the Internet in kind of a home study program and actually tested a device in their own home. Do you buy that?
ROBERT BAER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: No, not at all. I mean, I've spent 30 years dealing with explosives. I'm still scared of them. I wouldn't touch them without someone standing over my shoulder. You know, I don't know how they got detonators. That's sort of key. Did they use cell phones, take secondary power sources? I could go on and on and on, and the chances of you and I going to the store and coming home and assembling these things and making it go off is very, very remote. It's very hard to do, or they got very, very lucky. I just don't see it.
COOPER: Juliette, I mean, there are so many questions still and not a lot of answers, but again, why this guy who didn't have a lot of money, didn't have a job, goes to Russia for six months, travels around Russia. I know he's staying with relatives and the like but there's still lots of times we can't account for. He leaves his wife and infant child behind. It just seems very questionable.
Why would Russia have allowed him in if they had contacted the FBI and said we're concerned about this guy's links to radical Islam. Why would they even give him a visa?
JULIETTE KAYYEM, FORMER COMMONWEALTH HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISOR: So this is exactly where the investigation is going and does suggest that not even the Russians viewed him as a terrible threat. So when the administration says we got a ping but we didn't continue the investigation that may be based on the fact that the Russians also were finding not a lot of this.
And if you think about legal standards, the Russians have a lot lower legal standards on investigations than even -- than the United States does. So a lot of these pieces seem consistent. That there was a questioning about him. The FBI went to him. The Russians were sort of tracking him and that they couldn't find anything.
And I think it just goes to how difficult some of these individual cases are. I tend to be like Tom Fuentes where I can see elements of which maybe they had a lot of inspiration from abroad, from the Internet, something happened in Russia, but a lot of evidence that they're going to show in court suggests that everything was sort of done here.
And so that's where the investigation is going to go. There's going to be the methods and then there was also going to be sort of the ideology. And those are two very different things.
COOPER: And Bob Baer, it seems the Russians may have been onto something. Because obviously they had suspicions about the older brother and yet the FBI says they checked him out. They didn't think him to be a threat and so there was no reason to follow up. How do you reconcile the two if the Russians had concerns, we don't -- we don't yet know what those concerns were actually based on.
BAER: Anderson, I've dealt with Russian intelligence before. A lot, in fact. And they don't come to the CIA or the FBI with a name in describing somebody as a radical unless they have something concrete. There's just a long history of this. They don't simply turn in their citizens to us saying look at them. They had some suspicion, some reason to look at this. And you have to keep in mind that Russia is only optic on the Chechens.
We don't know anything about them. We've never followed him, we don't speak Chechen and on and on and on. So when the Russians say something, you pay attention. There is no other alternative.
COOPER: Peter, how much do we know about terrorist training separatist training, in that part of Russia? In Dagestan and going on still in Chechnya? I mean, is the intelligence good enough that we have a sense of whether there are militants over there training people to launch attacks on American soil? I know a top man was killed by Russian forces in Dagestan not too long ago. BERGEN: I think the sort of foreign fighter al Qaeda dimension of the Chechen insurgency is really something that was really more historical and was really actually more of a problem before 9/11. Al Qaeda, you know, had members that would go to Chechnya routinely. In fact, talking about Dagestan and Ayman al-Zawahiri who's now the leader of al Qaeda was actually arrested in Dagestan in 1996, and spent six months in jail.
The Russians -- he told the Russian some story that wasn't true and they released him. So that's an indication that al Qaeda, you know, certainly knows this part of the world well. But I see it more as something that was more -- you know, in a pre 9/11 2001, 2001, 2003 time period when the Chechen war was sort of at its height. And as the war has receded, you know, its detraction for foreigners, al Qaeda, foreign firefighters, I think has also received it as well.
COOPER: Nic Robertson, I appreciate you reporting. Peter Bergen, Bob Baer, Juliette Kayyem, thank you very much.
Again, we're still trying to piece this together as best we can. We are learning more tonight about the suspect's family members. Coming up we're going to play you a conversation their mother had with CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, she is still in Dagestan.
Also Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife Katy has given a brand new statement on the bombing. We'll tell you what she is saying and what we just learned about her and whether she's cooperating with law enforcement. And later a new look at the unsolved murders of one of Tamerlan's friends. And two other people in the Boston area back in 2011. Is he possibly could have been involved in those murders? We'll tell you what we know right now.
COOPER: Welcome back. We're hearing more from the mother of the bombing suspects in Dagestan who says what happened was a terrible thing, but that she knows her sons have nothing to do with it and she thinks they are being framed.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh spoke with their mother on the phone and then briefly on the street in Dagestan. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZUBEIDAT TSARNAEV, BOMBING SUSPECTS' MOTHER (via telephone): My sons were innocent! And I love them and I want the whole world to know. I love them! And I will love them and I want to join them. If they're going to kill me today, I will be happy. Happy, OK? OK and I will say Allahu Akbar! They were killed because they were Muslim, nothing else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We're also learning more tonight about the wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Her name is Katherine Russell. She goes by Katie and her attorney says she knew nothing about what her husband was allegedly planning. And that she is doing everything she can to help with the investigation.
Chris Lawrence has more on exactly what we've learned about her.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow hustled out of her parent's Rhode Island home Tuesday. Investigators want her help as they piece together the alleged Boston bomber's plan.
MIRIAM WEIZENBAUM, KATIE RUSSELL'S ATTORNEY: The reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all.
LAWRENCE: Her attorney says Katherine Russell lived with Tamerlan in a cramped Cambridge apartment as authorities try to determine when and where he may have assembled the bombs. Investigators want to find out what, if anything she knows.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She is doing everything she can to assist in the ongoing investigation.
LAWRENCE: Russell's attorneys say she didn't know anything. They say she last saw Tamerlan before she went to work on Thursday before the FBI released this video. They say she worked as a home health aide while Tamerlan stayed home with the couple's young daughter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very outgoing, very friendly, very smart and very talented.
LAWRENCE: That's the Katie Russell Amos Trout Paine remembers. Her high school art teacher says she talked a lot about earning her college degree.
(on camera): Are you surprised how her life has turned out so far?
AMOS TROUT PAINE, RUSSELL'S FORMER TEACHER: I was surprised to find out that she had dropped out. I hadn't seen any indication of her particularly interested in a lot of religion.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Russell was raised Christian in suburban Providence. She moved to Boston for college, met Tamerlan and dropped out. Attorneys say she converted to Islam and was an observant Muslim who wore the hijab or head scarf.
COOPER: Now Chris joins me live from North Kingstown, Rhode Island. So just to be clear, her attorney says she is doing everything she can to cooperate. Has she sat down and had interviews with the FBI?
Lawrence: At this point we don't think so. And if she has, then her attorneys are certainly not saying that publicly. They keep telling us that they are talking to authorities on her behalf, but they still haven't confirmed that she herself is ready to sit down directly and talk to investigators one-on-one -- Anderson.
COOPER: So for them saying she is doing everything she can to cooperate, that is kind of lawyers speak if she hasn't sat down to talk with them. How much -- I mean, do we know, was she living in that apartment? We know she saw him on Thursday after the bombing. Was she living full time in that apartment, or was she also spending time at her parents in Rhode Island? Were they living together?
LAWRENCE: Well, the attorneys say they were living together in that apartment in Cambridge. That was the apartment that the brother's parents got when they first came to this country. So basically, she would see a lot of her mother-in-law, the brother's mother.
She wouldn't see quite as much of Dzhokhar, the younger brother, because he was back and forth to college. And Anderson, I just got to say one thing. I mean, for all the talk about Tamerlan being so isolated and not having any American friends, let's remember he married an American girl named Katie from the suburbs of Providence, Rhode Island so not everything there squares.
COOPER: Yes, and we talked to a number of people who considered him a friend over the last several years. So again as you say, not everything is square, still a lot we're learning. Chris, I appreciate the update.
A lot of questions as I said remain about who the Tsarnaev brothers really are, what they are about. We're learning new details all the time. In light of the bombings and the suspects who emerged, authorities in Massachusetts are now taking a close look at another crime.
The unsolved murder of one of Tamerlan's best friends and two other people back in 2011. Deborah Feyerick joins me live with that part of the story. So Deb, tell us what we're learning about this triple murder?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we know right now is that investigators are looking -- a team of investigators are looking at it very closely. This was a triple murder that happened about 18 months ago in Massachusetts.
The reason it is back on the radar is because one of the victims was a very close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Initially, the police thought that this was drug related and we'll explain why in just a moment.
But the friend, Brendan Mess and Tsarnaev, they were sparring partners. They used to work out and train together at a mixed martial arts center in Boston. Brendan Mess was brutally murdered around September 11th.
They think it was right around that time, along with two other men, and according to investigators at the time the heads of the victims were pulled back and the throats were slit from ear-to-ear.
Now marijuana was found at the scene and what we're being told is that the marijuana was sprinkled all over the bodies, almost more of a symbolic gesture. Also thousands of dollars in cash were found left behind at the crime scene.
Still police thought this was all about drugs. Well, the district attorney stated at the time that the belief was that the victims, including Brandon Mess knew who the killers were, killers plural.
The reason they believe is because Mess was skilled in martial arts and had he had the opportunity, he could have potentially fought back. So we know that a source is also telling us Tamerlan Tsarnaev is believed to be the last person who saw his friend Brandon Mess alive.
About three months later, Tamerlan heads out to Dagestan and that's where the threat grows cold as far as that goes. They're relooking at that right now, Anderson.
COOPER: It's interesting that you said this occurred on what would have been the 10th anniversary I guess of September 11th on or about, maybe just a coincidence. Again, we simply don't know. Was Tamerlan interviewed by investigators back then?
FEYERICK: No. All indications right now is that he was not questioned and you know, it's interesting, you have to think Walton, Massachusetts, sort of a small town, police force. We understand that they asked Massachusetts police to come and step in to offer them help, which is routine.
That's what happened when you have a police department who doesn't have the resources. So it's unclear whether they simply didn't get around to questioning Tamerlan Tsarnaev or whether it was just a stone that was not looked at.
COOPER: All right, Deb, I appreciate the update. It's been a time of healing. Not only in Boston, but in the Texas town of West where a fertilizer plant explosion last week killed many people, many of them first responders.
Coming up next, an incredible story, we're going to introduce to a man who was an eye witness to both tragedies. He survived the Boston bombings and then he was in West when the explosion occurred.
Also the man who was accused of sending letters tainted with ricin to President Obama and also a U.S. senator has been released. The charges are dropped. What he is saying now and what law enforcement is saying now coming up.
COOPER: Well, welcome back. We've obviously been focusing a lot on Boston, but our thoughts are also with the people of West, Texas, where I was last week. Last week, as you know, a fire and explosion at a fertilizer plant killed 14 people including nine first responders who died fighting the fire and responding to it.
You're looking at exclusive new pictures from the area where firefighters were killed. You can see the area has been absolutely devastated. The ATF says the explosion left a crater measuring 93 feet and 10 feet deep, 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep.
Now between the Boston bombings and explosion in Texas, it's been a tragic nine days in two parts of the country 1,800 miles apart. Incredibly and coincidentally, one man survived them both. First hand, Gary Tuchman has the story.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Joe and Amy Berti look at this past week of disasters in Boston and West, Texas, from a very different vantage point than others. It's so unique it's hard to contemplate. They also look back with a deep sense of gratitude.
JOE BERTI, RAN BOSTON MARATHON: We just feel blessed that we're both OK and we're able to sit here and talk with you today.
TUCHMAN: Joe Berti's story begins last Monday in Boston. The Austin, Texas resident was running his first marathon for a charity called "Champions For Children." This picture was taken of him at the finish line just seconds after he crossed --
JOE BERTI: Amy was 10 feet from the first explosion.
TUCHMAN: His wife, Amy, was so very close, but not injured.
AMY BERTI, MARATHON SPECTATOR: That doesn't seem to make any sense when the person who is standing beside me in Boston was so maimed.
TUCHMAN: Meanwhile, Amy had no idea where her husband was and grew panicked when she couldn't reach him on his cell.
AMY BERTI: For an hour, it was the worst hour of my life. I didn't know if he was dead or alive.
TUCHMAN: Amy went back to their hotel.
AMY BERTI: All the way up the elevator, I thought, dear Lord, just let him be there when I get there. And I opened the door to our hotel room and thank God, there he was.
TUCHMAN (on camera): Tell me how it felt when you saw her?
JOE BERTI: It was incredible. We were both very happy that we had found each other and just thought not knowing was the worst thing and not getting any response.
TUCHMAN: Joe and Amy flew back to Texas on Tuesday to reunite with their children. On the next day, Wednesday, Joe had a business trip so he drove from Austin to Dallas. After a few hours there, he started heading back home. And to get back to Austin you have to drive in the interstate through this town, the town of West, Texas.
(voice-over): Joe was minutes away from the west fertilizer plant when he was stunned to see huge plumes of smoke. He pulled his car over.
JOE BERTI: Right out of the middle of the black smoke came a giant explosion. I saw a fire ball and then I saw a giant cloud of smoke. It was just so big and it was so loud. It shook my car when I was driving. I was worried about stuff flying out of the sky. I kept looking up and I heard something hit the top of my car. So I quickly jumped out and took a picture.
TUCHMAN (on camera): And you must be thinking to yourself I just went through this on Monday.
JOE BERTI: Yes, the first thought is I can't believe this. And what is it? Is it another terrorist attack? Is it a bomb? What is this explosion? It was so massive.
TUCHMAN: How old are you?
JOE BERTI: Forty three.
TUCHMAN: In 43 years have you ever been near a bomb or explosion before?
JOE BERTI: No.
TUCHMAN: And then it happened twice in three days.
JOE BERTI: Yes.
TUCHMAN (voice-over): Joe got back in his car and in a jittery voice called his wife Amy back at home.
JOE BERTI: I said, you'll never believe this, but I've seen another explosion and started to describe it to her. And her first reaction is just get home as quick as you can.
TUCHMAN: And that Joe did, returning home to a wife and children who want him to stick around for a while.
COOPER: Amazing. I like it. Gary Tuchman joins me now live from West in Texas. Gary, I understand you're outside of an interfaith memorial service for the victims right now. Tell me about it.
TUCHMAN: Right, Anderson. As we're speaking, people are coming out in a very touching service. They call it a service of healing and thanksgiving. It was run by leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and the high faiths. It was very emotional.
There were seven first responders inside who got applause from the hundreds of people who were inside the church. I do want to update you about the investigation. As we speak there are a dozen state and federal investigators on the scene trying to still figure out how the fire started.
We do know the explosion that occurred created a crater that was 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep and we also know the death toll has gone from 14 to 15. The latest person to be added to this the death toll was a man who lived at a nursing home who was destroyed.
He was 96 years old and you think about that, Anderson, here's a man who almost lived to a century and he died this way. It's so horrifying and pitiful. Back to you.
COOPER: Yes, President Obama is going to be in Waco on Thursday for the big memorial service there. Gary, I appreciate it. I just had breaking news in another major story tonight.
A Mississippi man accused of sending ricin tainted letters to President Obama and others is no longer a suspect and his lawyer says he was framed. How did they get the wrong guy? We're going to have a look at that when we come back.
COOPER: Welcome back. Another breaking story we're following tonight. The Mississippi man accused of sending ricin tainted letters to President Obama and other officials have been cleared. The charges against Paul Kevin Curtis were dropped today. Here's what he said after he was released from jail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL KEVIN CURTIS, RELEASED FROM CUSTODY: This past week has been a nightmare for myself and my family. My mother has suffered as well as my children. I would like to get back to normal, which for me means being the best father I can be to my children, supporting my favorite charity, "Save A Life Foundation," and entertaining through my music.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, Curtis is an Elvis impersonator. His lawyers say he was framed and authorities are looking at another suspect. It's a pretty stunning turn in a story that broke after the Boston bombings.
Of course, adding to the anxiety over the terror attacks. White House correspondent Dan Lothian joins me now. Dan, no doubt this guy has been through a lot. What more did he say about his ordeal?
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's a really colorful character. As you were pointing out, he's an Elvis impersonator and what's interesting is that he is someone who performed 10 years ago for the U.S. senator from Mississippi, who he was accused of sending one of those threatening letters to.
So well known in the area, but also an interesting character because he talked about how he's been arrested more than 20 times but never convicted. He said when they came to him, authorities came to him and said that they were arresting him and talked about ricin.
He said he thought they were talking about rice and said that he didn't even eat rice. So an unusual character nonetheless, but he did talk about how difficult and what a nightmare it was for him to be locked up behind bars for something he said he did not do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CURTIS: Last seven days staring at four walls. Not really knowing what's happening. Not having a clue why I'm there. Just being in a state of overwhelmed is the best way can describe it. When you've been charged with something and never heard of it, ricin or whatever. I thought they said rice. I said I don't even eat rice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, Dan, how did the authorities focus on this guy in the first place and where does the investigation go from here?
LOTHIAN: Well, you know, there was a lot of information that was out there on the internet, on Facebook, writings of his that led authorities right back to him. But all along he was saying with his legal team that he had nothing to do with this. That he was framed.
That because he had so much information out there already that someone just took his words and turned it against him. As for where it goes from here, we don't know, that's an important question because authorities will only tell us they have new information and they're following the new information.
COOPER: All right, Dan, I appreciate the update. Thanks. There's a lot more happening tonight. Randi Kaye joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Randi.
RANDI KAYE, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson tonight, the flooded Midwest is bracing for more rain and snow. Rivers in seven states have been rising to record levels over the last two weeks. Heavy rain and flooding have already taken four lives.
A 360 follow now, in federal court today, suspected child predator Eric Toth entered no plea to charges of possession and production of child pornography. The FBI said a high quality tip led to his capture in Nicaragua where he was living under an assumed name. The former private schoolteacher and camp counselor had been a fugitive since 2008.
And the Justice Department has filed its case against Lance Armstrong. The lawsuit accusing the cycling legend of violating his contract with the U.S. Postal Service which sponsored him. After years of denial, Armstrong admitted in January to using performance enhancing drugs -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Randi, appreciate that. We'll be right back.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: I hope you will join me one hour from now. Another live edition of 360 here from Boston. Thanks for watching. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.