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Boston Investigation Continues; Boston Survivors' Enormous Bills; Bombing Evidence & Conspiracy Theories Emerge; Ricin Suspect Ordered Held Without Bond; Female DNA Found on Bomb in Boston Attack; NBA's Jason Collins: 'I'm Gay'

Aired April 29, 2013 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer, and we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, investigators are zeroing in on key people with ties to the Boston bombing suspects or possibly to the attack itself, an important focus today, Tamerlan Tsarnaev's widow, Katherine Russell. FBI agents entered her family's home in Rhode Island and appeared to walk away with evidence.

CNN's Erin McPike is on the scene for us in Rhode Island.

What's the very latest, Erin?

ERIN MCPIKE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, she is back here inside this house. Her mother brought her back from her attorney's office after she was inside the office the attorney's this afternoon for about 90 minutes. There were federal officials with them.

But earlier today, Wolf, when federal officials left the Russell house, there were about five of them, and they carried out a couple things, including black equipment cases and the most interesting thing of all was a clear plastic bag marked DNA samples, Wolf.

BLITZER: Do we know anything else that's going on there, as far as any statements that she's made to the FBI? I know she's lawyered up, she's got lawyers galore.

MCPIKE: Well, Wolf, all we know so far from the FBI is that they, obviously, are confirming that they were investigating her today as part of their ongoing investigation, but they won't comment on specific aspects of the case. They have been very interested in her since the very beginning and federal vehicles have been stationed outside the Russell household.

For the past week, we have seen actually a lot of federal officials in the area as they remained interested in Katie Russell and her family and what Katie Russell might have known, because, Wolf, as you know, she and her young daughter lived with Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in their small apartment in Cambridge.

BLITZER: Any indication at all that she wants to claim her husband's body? MCPIKE: So far not yet. And the other thing we should point out, Wolf, is that Katie Russell's attorneys have said almost nothing. Obviously, they were driving her to their office earlier today. We tried to speak to them. They really have had nothing to say. The entire family has been tight-lipped.

We did get a chance to ask Katie Russell's mother how they are doing and she just said the best we can. But, otherwise, we have heard very little from the Russell family in the last week.

BLITZER: I suspect, yes, we might be hearing some more relatively soon. Let's see. Thanks, Erin McPike in Rhode Island.

There's other parts of the story in Rhode Island as well. We're told that authorities have found and questioned the mysterious man previously known only as Misha. He's been accused by some relatives of brainwashing Tamerlan Tsarnaev. We're looking into new claims about Misha's identity and his influence on the suspects and their family.

Brian Todd is in Rhode Island for us. He's been following up on all of these leads.

What's the latest that you're getting, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we may have the most solid lead yet on the figure that relatives say so heavily influenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but law enforcement officials are still hedging as to whether this is, in fact, that same man.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Their search for the shadowy figure known as Misha have taken investigators to Rhode Island, but it's not clear if the man who is here is the same Misha who relatives say radicalized Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Reporter Christian Caryl of "The New York Review of Books" interviewed a man named Mikhail Allakhverdov who said he had known Tamerlan Tsarnaev, that he was a convert to Islam of partially Armenian descent, as Misha had been described. Allakhverdov said he'd been interviewed by federal authorities who he said were about to close his case.

He told Caryl he had no role in the Boston Marathon bombings and:

CHRISTIAN CARYL, "THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS": He denied very emphatically that he was a teacher of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He said, no, I wasn't his teacher. I didn't instruct him in anything. I had nothing to do with any of his developments. But I couldn't get him to tell me anything more than that about their relationship. He was just extremely agitated and didn't want to go into details.

TODD (on camera): That interview brought us and a crush of other reporters to this apartment complex in West Warwick, Rhode Island, identified as a residence of Mikhail Allakhverdov's parents. No leads here until a lawyer showed up.

QUESTION: Could you speak to us a (OFF-MIKE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I could.

TODD (voice-over): As he emerged from the apartment and was swarmed, attorney Richard Nicholson said he represented the parents of a man he identified as Mike Allakhverdov. He said they have also been interviewed by law enforcement.

NICHOLSON: I expect that the authorities will be asking additional questions, but at some juncture they will be closing that part of the investigation.

TODD: But law enforcement sources have not told us he that Mikhail Allakhverdov is the same Misha who heavily influenced Tamerlan Tsarnaev, according to his relatives.

RUSLAN TSARNI, UNCLE OF SUSPECTS: And he said this person, just he took his brain. He just brainwashed him completely. Tamerlan is off now. There's no obedience and respect to his own father.

TODD: Other relatives say Misha was seen preaching to Tamerlan Tsarnaev at their Cambridge, Massachusetts, apartment late at night, causing tension between the parents. If Misha has been interviewed federal by law enforcement authorities, what would they have him about Tamerlan Tsarnaev?

TOM FUENTES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: How far did that radicalization go and how much involved was this Misha? Did he do more than just put these thoughts in Tamerlan's head or get Tamerlan to change his philosophy about his religion? Or did he actually do more? Did he introduce him to others that maybe are part of this plot or maybe provided training on the explosives or maybe provided an apartment or some garage to store the equipment?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Adding to questions on whether this man in Rhode Island is the same Misha or not, law enforcement authorities had told us previously that they were working with their overseas partners to try to locate him. So far, we have no information that's changed, Wolf.

BLITZER: From what you're hearing, Brian, is there any indication at all that they are going to actually charge this person in Rhode Island with anything?

TODD: The indications we're getting, Wolf, from law enforcement sources, is that they will not be charging him with anything. He apparently did give them his computer and his phone, at least that's what he told "The New York Review of Books," and he says they are about to close the case on him. So, no indications right now that they are going to charge him with anything relating to this plot.

BLITZER: This part of the story might be over, the Misha mystery, as we have been calling it. All right, Brian, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, another thread to the bombing investigation, authorities are looking into a possible link between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a young Canadian boxer who became an Islamic extremist and died a violent death back in Russia.

Let's go to our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson. He's in Dagestan for us with more on this part of the story.

What are you learning over there, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we understand the FBI is looking into any connection between Tamerlan Tsarnaev and William Plotnikov, this 23-year-old Canadian whose parents were from -- his mother is not far from this region here, his father also from Russia.

He'd come back here. He had joined with rebel forces here, died, according to government officials, in a firefight last July, the 14th of July, just a couple of days before Tsarnaev left Russia and went back to the United States. People in that village still sensitive, particularly sensitive at the moment because of Tsarnaev being in the headlines.

Many of the families of people who were killed with him, seven people killed altogether, many of those other family members still live in this village. So, sensitivities, they are raw, we're told, although no confirmed connection in that village that we can ascertain so far with Tsarnaev, but this is a connection that the FBI are looking into. They were both boxers. Both had a radical view of Islam. Both had emigrated to the United States. And both had been drawn back here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very suspicious stuff going on over there. I know you're one of the few journalists to actually go into this area where this boxer was killed. What can you tell us about it?

ROBERTSON: This is an area that's about an hour-and-a-half drive from the capital here, Makhachkala.

It is an area that has been the center and focus of military operations, Russian security force operations. It is an area that is, if you will, still a place where there are potential for operations. And it is still an area where people -- where it's not, if you will, directly under the writ of authorities, where there's still concern for the safety of people who would travel in and out of that area.

That said, that said, in that military operation, seven people were killed, including Plotnikov, but some of those family members still live there and still very sensitive to this issue, Wolf.

BLITZER: Very suspicious stuff over there. Thanks very much, Nic Robertson on the scene for us in Dagestan.

Up next, many Boston bombing survivors don't know how they are going to pay for their enormous medical expenses. Wait until you hear what they now owe.

And new word on the suspects' parents and their on-and-off plans to come to the United States -- the mother now making her conditions clear.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. This just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

The Massachusetts Medical Examiner's Office says it has determined the cause of death of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but the information is being held until someone claims the body. No one has yet, including his wife. And so far no members of the family have come forward to claim it, either. We're also learning more details about the parents of the Boston bombing suspects and whether they will be coming to the United States from Russia.

They spoke to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh. He's joining us now from Moscow.

Nick, tell us what the father and mother said to you today.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I spoke to them earlier on today. They were quite clear, the father very brief in conversation saying simply, I am sick, very sick. The phone call ended then. The mother able to elaborate a little more, saying that he was, indeed, very ill, having issues with blood pressure, appears to be shaking as well. Some serious issues there.

Of course, these are affecting their travel plans. Their father had originally intended to travel to the United States. Of course, with his health, that is now put on hold indefinitely. The mother though very clear in her eyes, she would travel to the United States regardless of the risk against her, potentially, for outstanding allegations of shoplifting or even as the investigation begins to widen, potentially intermittent suggestions she might be wanted for further questioning.

She would go to the United States if she was promised she could see her son Dzhokhar -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You're also following up on this Russian special forces raid over the weekend. Here's the question, Nick, any direct link or even indirect link to the Boston bombings?

WALSH: This is a complicated one, but it's worth following through. There was a raid in a village called Chontaul (ph) in Dagestan early Sunday morning.

And a militant there called Shakhrudin Askhabov killed by Russian special forces, violent confrontation there. How does this link to the Boston bombings? Well, Askhabov was part of the group run by a man called Abu Dujan. He also was killed in December. Abu Dujan, a video of him was linked to -- off the YouTube page of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older alleged Boston bomber. Complex there. We don't know the men ever met, but we do know that Askhabov was killed on Sunday and Abu Dujan used to be part of the same armed group. Now, that means that there is ongoing activity by Russian security services on the ground here in Russia as that investigation statewide continues. And, as we know, the FSB and FBI, their counterparts are exchanging information. So, no clear, specific link between the men, but certainly a substantial coincidence -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes. And we do know that President Obama spoke to President Putin today in Russia. They had what the White House calls a good conversation, and the president of the United States thanked the Russian president for the cooperation in this investigation, at least this phase in the investigation.

I get the sense both of these governments, despite the fact they are not allies or close friends, they are working a little bit more closely now as far as the terrorism situation is concerned. Is that the impression you're getting in Moscow as well, Nick?

WALSH: Well, there is actually -- it's very interesting to see how little the Russians are giving away in public here, but how often it appears that Putin and Obama want to talk about the cooperation they are doing and appear to be wanting to be talking positively about that. We also heard from an aide to Putin here in Moscow saying quite simply the continuation of cooperation at a high level about the Boston bombings would continue.

So, severe, obvious efforts for cooperation here on the surface, combined with some strange back-chatter we're hearing from, you know, on the Hill, et cetera, about there not really having been as much information coming out of the Russians as they would have liked, but really looking around, we have the Russians repeatedly warning the Americans a while back before Tsarnaev obviously came on the radar after Boston and now further information coming from the Russians to Americans about potential links between the mother and the sons discussing jihad over the telephone.

So there seems to be a chain of information coming through here. You just don't quite know if the actions of the Russians in Dagestan over the weekend and the raid and continued pass of information are connected and quite how this all feeds together. There certainly seems to be adequate exchange of information right now. Wolf, the presidents are talking and that reasonably congratulatory or cooperative fashion, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, that's important, that they are at least talking about the sensitive subject.

Nick Paton Walsh in Moscow, having flown to Moscow from Dagestan over the past couple days, we will stay in close touch with thank .

Coming up, much more on Tamerlan Tsarnaev supposedly talking about jihad on the phone with his mother, and that according to Russian police sources. Why didn't the Russians share that information with the U.S. earlier? Plus, day one of the Michael Jackson wrongful death trial, why the singer's mother says one of the world's largest entertainment companies should be held responsible.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: All right. Every bit of information about the Tsarnaev brothers, every glimpse of their lives, it could help solve unanswered questions about the bombings.

Let's bring in Rob Marciano, formerly of CNN, as all of our viewers remember. He's now the co-host of "Entertainment Tonight."

Good to have you back here, Rob, on CNN.

Let's talk a little bit about this boxing trainer, whom you interviewed for "Entertainment Tonight." He worked closely with Tamerlan Tsarnaev. What did he tell you?

ROB MARCIANO, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": Well, this is a trainer that's been highly sought after by the media since the bombings, Wolf, and he's declined all media requests.

He's been interviewed by the FBI. He finally accepted our request when we discovered this unfinished documentary that has video of not only Tsarnaev, but of John Allan, the trainer himself. So, we had a revealing talk just yesterday in the gym where he would train Tsarnaev. Listen to a couple of things that he said to me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ALLAN, BOXING TRAINER: He gave me the impression that the reason he was unable to go to the Olympics was because he couldn't become a citizen because of mishandling of paperwork, and he felt that it was done on purpose so that the guy he beat could go to the Olympic trials.

MARCIANO: Do you think that this roadblock in his boxing career sent him on the path to these bombings?

ALLAN: Absolutely.

Tell me what he's like inside the ring.

ALLAN: You know, I think he disappears. And he just does what he needs to do. At that point when lights are on, there's no ego involved. And his personality has nothing to do with it. You know, he's a machine. Clean, clear technique, knows what he needs to do and just does it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARCIANO: So, he's talking about the boxing, obviously, there. He was the best boxer in that gym. He had won the Golden Gloves in New England two years running and couldn't advance to the national global level because of his citizenship. He wanted to become a U.S. citizen, couldn't for -- and the main reason being a domestic violence charge. So, that was the issue there.

But getting into his psyche, Wolf, he said he was unemotional in the ring. That was important in order to be a good fighter. Unfortunately, being unemotional made him a good liar and he was able to lead this double life and obviously go about these very unemotional killings and maimings across Boston.

BLITZER: Good interview, Rob. And, as I said, good to have you back here on CNN. I know you're going to have a lot more on your show, "Entertainment Tonight," later on. Appreciate it very much, Rob Marciano coming in with this part of the story. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: Still ahead: the Boston bombing investigators pursuing what they are calling people of interest. Who are they? Could they have had a direct link to the attacks? Some new information on that.

And new details also about the man now accused of sending a poison letter to the president of the United States and his feud with the so-called Elvis impersonator. This story keeps getting stranger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Happening now: the search for possible accomplices in the Boston Marathon bombings. Does any new evidence support conspiracy theories?

Plus, the case of the ricin-tainted letters getting stranger by the minute, as the new suspect appears in court today. We're going to tell you what we're now learning.

And an NBA player is praised at the highest levels for publicly acknowledging he's gay.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

An eerie first in the Boston bombing investigation. Two weeks after the carnage, we're now able to hear what the surviving suspect sounds like. Look at this video circulating online of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev playing with his niece whose face we blurred.

We don't know exactly when it was shot. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DZHOKHAR TSARNAEV, SUSPECT: Look at me, I said. Get out. All right, give me a kiss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

TSARNAEV: No, give me a kiss. That a girl. Now, get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) TSARNAEV: OK, OK, come here. Give me another kiss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That's just one of the new developments in the case. Let's bring in our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns. He's been looking at all the new elements coming in. What else are you learning, Joe?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that search for accomplices or accessories to the Boston bombings continuing today, though some in the intelligence community were warning that, given the erratic behavior of the Tsarnaev brothers both here and in Russia, the tendency to think in terms of a larger conspiracy is so far starting to look counterproductive.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): Federal agents visited the Rhode Island home Monday where the widow of suspected bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev has been staying. Agents left with two boxes and a bag marked "DNA samples."

Katherine Russell is one on a check-off list of people in the United States that federal sources said investigators were ticking through. One question is whether she spoke with her husband or his brother after their pictures were first released to the public by the FBI, and if so, what they may have talked about, but the law enforcement source said it was premature to call any of the potential interviewees suspects or so-called persons of interest, even though policy-makers have been using the term in public.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are persons of interest in the United States.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-MI), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There are still persons of interest in the United States that the FBI would like to have conversations with.

JOHNS: Investigators are still trying to find out when the brothers were radicalized, but sources in the intelligence community warn there may be no quick and easy answer. A man who had been identified as the elusive Misha, who'd been accused by Tsarnaev's family of turning Tamerlan Tsarnaev violent, has flatly denied any undue influence and was described as having been very cooperative with agents, even allowing them to search his computer, according to one source.

Many see Tamerlan's trip to Russia for six months in 2012 as critical to understanding the attack on the Boston Marathon.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have been cooperating with the Russian government on travel from the embassy by a team of Americans to investigate down in Dagestan, the trip that Tamerlan Tsarnaev took. JOHNS: The Russians are cooperating, recently telling the U.S. of a 2011 telephone conversation they intercepted between a man believed to be Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mother. A source said agents got a thumbnail description of the conversation and that there had been some reference to jihad, though the context is not clear.

ROGERS: I think they have information that would be incredibly helpful that they haven't provided yet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: One legal note on this case: San Diego defense attorney Judy Clarke, who most recently represented Massachusetts murderer Jared Loughner in Arizona, has been appointed to represent Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev is accused of using a weapon of mass destruction, which makes him eligible for the death penalty if the Justice Department decides to pursue it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Joe Johns, thanks very much.

Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our national security analyst, the former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes.

Tom, thanks very much. We did get a statement in from the FBI, a brief one, and I'll put it up on the screen, after visiting Katherine Russell's parents' house in Rhode Island. She's the widow of Tsarnaev. "We are there as part of our ongoing investigation, but we aren't permitted to discuss specific aspects of our case."

How interested, do you believe, the FBI is in getting whatever Katherine Russell knows?

TOM FUENTES, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, I think what they'd be looking for, for sure, is if he was practicing with explosives, if he went out in some rural area and was working with the explosives, then he might have clothes, shoes, jackets, back in the home that have the powder residue that matches the evidence used in the Boston Marathon bombings. So, that would be one key thing piece...

BLITZER: We did see some DNA evidence being carried out. It was listed as DNA being taken out of that home today in Rhode Island. What would that say to you?

FUENTES: Well, DNA would be his skin or hair particles on the clothing or on other articles that would be there to say that he -- that's his clothing and he was in that home. And if they find other material on that clothing, it would link him to it.

BLITZER: Now, the Russians have now given a summary, shall we say, of that phone conversation they intercepted between the mother and, we believe, Tamerlan Tsarnaev back in 2011. They didn't give it to the U.S. at that time, only now. Why?

FUENTES: I think the main reason here is that the Russian perspective of this back in 2011 was not, in their opinion, that Tsarnaev was going to attack the United States and give us everything to protect ourselves. It was their worry that he was maybe putting together an organization here or fundraising here to go to Russia and attack Russians in Russia.

And I think that that's why, when the FBI does their very thorough investigation, in this case, and asked the Russians, we're going to have to close it, do you have more. And asked them twice. They don't have anymore. And I think at that point it's because they're satisfied for their purposes if he's not meeting with terrorists in the U.S., if he's not fundraising for terrorism in the U.S., and he goes there later, well, they can track him when he gets there. So I think from their standpoint, they had enough information to be done with it.

Secondly, the letter that comes to the CIA from the Russians is the same letter that went to the FBI. This is not like a double warning or anything. It's just that they shot-gunned out, you know, requests. And that commonly happens in other countries where they send multiple requests to multiple agencies.

BLITZER: When the FBI asked for more details, they didn't get any of those details at that time. That's one of the reasons why they said that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on his part, and it was over, that investigation from the FBI's perspective.

FUENTES: Right. Exactly. What we still don't know is why were they monitoring the mother in the first place? They didn't...

BLITZER: Is the mother potentially -- could she be charged as a co-conspirator, if you will, if in fact, that phone conversation did have her talking about jihad with her son?

FUENTES: I think merely talking about it may be kind of weak evidentiary-wise, but if she's saying, "Son, when you arrive, I'm going to be hook you up with so and so that I've been talking to, and that person is going to train you." And if she's a significant part of helping him learn how to make explosives or plan a terrorist act, then, yes, then she's conspiring with him to commit the crime that he ends up committing.

BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, thanks very much.

FUENTES: You're welcome, Wolf.

BLITZER: Coming up, their lives have been turned upside-down, and many of the most seriously injured victims of the Boston bombings are facing not only long recoveries but also massive medical bills.

Plus, the huge reaction to the first American male professional athlete announcing he's gay.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Medical bills are growing every day for the -- for many of the Boston bombing victims who remain hospitalized. For those who lost limbs, the costs are massive and will add up over time. CNN's Carol Costello is in Boston with us for more on this part of the story.

Carol, what kind of costs are we actually talking about?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're talking about astronomical costs, Wolf. Donations are pouring in, but they will not cover what the costs are being, you know, what these astronomical costs that these people will suffer.

I mean, consider this: $50,000 in medical expenses alone for those who lost limbs. I'm just being conservative here. That depends on how long you'll have to stay in the hospital. That doesn't include rehabilitation, rehabilitation that could last for years. Hopefully just months, but many people will have to undergo years of rehabilitation.

Also, it doesn't include lost income. Some of these people will never be able to return to the jobs they once had. They'll just have to do something else, because they're simply not physically able to go back to what -- to do what they once did.

Add to those costs the costs of, let's say, a prosthetic leg. A basic prosthetic leg costs $10,000. Now I would want, you know, the best prosthetic leg out there if I were those people, and I'm sure they do, too, but they cost up to $100,000, and that's not a one-time cost, because prosthetic legs have to be replaced every three to five years.

I'm sure you've heard of this One Fund set up in Boston. It's set up by the city of Boston, also the state of Massachusetts. It's collecting private donations, and a lot of money has poured into that fund: to date, $27 million from 75 [SIC] donors. The average donation is $65. But I talked to the administrator of that fund, and he said $27 million probably will not be enough to cover all these people have already lost or lost -- or will lose in the future, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, let's hope they raise -- raise a whole lot more money. Carol, thanks very much for that report.

Up next, new information about the latest man accused of sending poisonous letters to President Obama and other officials. Details of his feud with a previous suspect, that so-called Elvis impersonator.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A Mississippi man accused of mailing ricin-tainted letters to President Obama and other officials has been ordered held without bond until a preliminary hearing later this week. CNN's John Zarrella is joining us now from Oxford, Mississippi, with the very latest.

What are you learning, John?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, James Everett Dutschke, he appeared in court today, wearing shackles and an orange jump suit, the judge very quickly asking him if he understood the charges against him: possession, stockpiling, and producing a biotoxin identified as ricin. Dutschke said, "Yes, ma'am," he did. He did not enter a plea. The entire proceeding lasted about eight minutes.

As you've mentioned, Dutschke held without bond on the grounds that he is both a danger to the community and a flight risk.

Now, as you mentioned, all of this stemming from those ricin- spiked letters sent to the president, a Mississippi senator, and a local judge.

Another man, as you may recall, 10 days ago, Paul Kevin Curtis, was originally arrested on the charges. He claimed he was framed. The charges were later dropped against him. He's an Elvis impersonator.

Now, we understand that there certainly is a connection between both Dutschke and Curtis, but it's very, very hazy at this point. We believe by Thursday at this hearing when the government affidavit is unsealed, we'll have a much better idea of the case against Dutschke and perhaps the relationship between these two men -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much. John Zarrella in Oxford, Mississippi.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: I want to go back to our crime and justice correspondent, Joe Johns. He's getting word now, Joe, about some DNA found on parts of one of these bombs. What are you learning?

JOHNS: Wolf, well, this is just an update to the story we did a few minutes ago that federal investigators appeared to take DNA samples from the home of Katherine Russell, the widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

It turns out law enforcement forces, two law enforcement sources, tell CNN that female DNA was discovered on a fragment of one of the Boston Marathon bombs, and they're, obviously, trying to eliminate who that is. This is sort of a needle in a haystack, we're told. It doesn't really mean that it's dispositive of anything, quite frankly, Wolf. Bottom line is, they want to find out where this DNA came from and if possibly it belonged to someone in the Tsarnaev household there.

But even if they did find, say, a hair or other DNA, it doesn't necessarily tell them a whole lot more. Again, authorities looking for the owner, if you will, of the DNA found on a fragment of the Boston bomb -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's see if they find out, they do know it is female DNA, so that -- that potentially could be significant. All right. Thanks very much, Joe, for that. Joe Johns reporting.

It's a first in the world of professional sports in the United States, an active male player revealing he's gay. Reaction is pouring into the landmark announcement by the NBA center, Jason Collins. We just learned that President Obama called Collins to offer his support and congratulations on his courage. CNN's Lisa Sylvester is working on this story for us. She's coming into THE SITUATION ROOM now with more. Lisa, tell our viewers what happened.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we should mention also that Michelle Obama, the first lady, she also tweeted to Jason Collins, quote, "We've got your back."

President Clinton has said that he's proud to call him his friend, and there's been a lot of positive reaction to an essay Collins wrote, sharing his personal story with the world.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Jason Collins has played in 12 NBA seasons for teams in New Jersey, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston, and Washington, but it's not his stats that people will remember him people will remember him for. Rather these three sentences: quote, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."

Collins is the first gay athlete currently playing in one of the top four U.S. Major League sports to come out. In an essay in "Sports Illustrated" magazine, Collins writes how he kept it a secret for decades, even getting engaged at one point.

He answers the question, why now? He has simply been tired of living a lie. With the U.S. Supreme Court debating the issue of gay marriage, he says it was time to come forward. Quote, "I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom, raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different.' If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand."

Collins's agent approached "Sports Illustrated" about publishing his story.

CHRIS STONE, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": I have no doubt that there will be others. How many, I couldn't -- I couldn't say. But I wouldn't be surprised at all before the end of the calendar year if we see several athletes come out. Only because, even before we had heard about the possibility of speaking with Jason, we knew that this day was coming.

SYLVESTER: Collins is a free agent. He has been most recently playing with the Washington Wizards. The team president put out this statement. Quote, "We are extremely proud of Jason and support his decision to live his life proudly and openly."

The accolades continue, Kobe Bryant tweeting, "Proud of Jason Collins. Don't suffocate who you are because of the ignorance of others."

President Bill Clinton, whose daughter, Chelsea, went to school with Jason Collins, tweeted, "I'm proud to call Jason Collins a friend."

And world-famous tennis player Martina Navratilova sent this tweet, referencing her own coming out: "Well done, Jason Collins. You are a brave man. And a big man at that. 1981 was the year for me; 2013 is the year for you."

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA, PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYER (via phone): With each player that comes out, it will be less and less of a big deal, which is exactly what we wanted.

SYLVESTER: The White House was also asked to weigh in.

CARNEY: We view that as another example of the progress that has been made and the evolution that has been taking place in this country.

SYLVESTER: It is a watershed moment. But what happens next for Collins's career and how he'll be treated by others away from the public eye is not known. But his former coach, Boston Celtics' Doc Rivers, compared this moment to Jackie Robinson, No. 42, breaking down another sports barrier. Rivers tweeting, quote, "If you have learned anything from Jackie Robinson, it is that teammates are always the first to accept. It will be society who has to learn tolerance."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: Not all of Jackie Robinson's teammates, though, were totally accepting.

And there was one negative tweet, Mike Wallace of the Miami Dolphins tweeted, quote, "All these beautiful women in the world and guys want to mess with other guys. That tweet was later deleted, and the team organization put out a statement saying that does not reflect its views.

Just a few minutes ago, Collins sent out this tweet. I think we've got it up that we can put it on the screen. There it is. Quote, "All the support I have received today is truly inspirational. I knew that I was choosing the road less traveled, but I am not walking it alone."

A lot of people using the words "courageous." I think that probably sums it up.

BLITZER: Of the four major sports, he's the first one, the first one as an active player. Not after retirement but as an active player to acknowledge he's gay. So it is a courageous step.

SYLVESTER: And a lot of people are saying, you know, that we hope we would get to the point, Wolf, where this isn't a news story at all, but it's commonplace, that it's not -- it doesn't even raise any headlines. But the fact is that this is the moment where we are in our country, and it is a big moment for our country.

BLITZER: Well, let's see how he's accepted by his teammates. Thanks very much.

Coming up, feeding a camel is all fun and games. That is, until you try to put a toddler's whole head in its mouth. What's going on? We have a video. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: When a camel is hungry, watch out. It will eat all your treats. And, if you're not too careful, might try to eat your toddler, as well. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): it was a family just horsing around with a camel.

ALIYAH INZER, TODDLER: Horsey, horsey.

MARCIE INZER, MOTHER: It's not a horsey, baby. It's a camel.

A. INZER: Camel, yes.

MOOS: The Inzers had just finished handing out their last treat at a drive-thru zoo near Branson, Missouri.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

MOOS: And their almost 3-year-old daughter, Aliyah, had a constant case of the giggles. When the camel, still looking for more treats, did its best impersonation of Jaws, Aliyah's dad, Tyler, calmly pushed the camel away.

TYLER INZER, FATHER: I don't have any more, buddy.

MOOS: When the camel persisted, they took off.

M. INZER: Oh, he's coming with us!

MOOS: But many YouTube viewers weren't giggling: "Great, another example of moronic parents placing their child in harm's way."

M. INZER: No, no, we never. We didn't felt that it -- we never felt we were unsafe when we were there.

T. INZER: Oh, no. Not at all.

M. INZER: And even when it was happening, you know, Tyler had control of the car.

T. INZER: Camel on the run.

MOOS: Aliyah says she wasn't scared, and she calls the camel her friend.

M. INZER: Did you want to take that camel home?

A. INZER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

M. INZER: Did you want to take him home?

A. INZER: I did.

MOOS: She says the horsey felt soft, eating her hair.

(on camera): We've seen this happen before with much deadlier animals but with one big difference.

(voice-over): Who could forget the lioness at the Oregon Zoo that reacted to young Jack as if he were what zoo keepers call a prey item. He did resemble a zebra.

Aliyah's mom teaches baby sign language.

M. INZER: Can you sign "camel"? Good job. You show the humps of the camel's back. Right?

MOOS: The camel left its own sign on the steering wheel.

M. INZER: Ew, gross.

Look what he did to our steering wheel.

MOOS: The two opposing camps may argue about the encounter: "Shows just how stupid some people can be!" versus "I love this! When the parents don't freak out about every mishap and fall, children learn not to freak out, too."

Aliyah sure wasn't freaked. She was even tickled when the camel tinkled, blocking their way. For Aliyah, it was just a hump in the road.

M. INZER: Did he have good breath or stinky breath?

A. INZER: Stinky breath.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Jeanne Moos, thank you.

Remember, you can always follow us, what's going on here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow us on Twitter. You can tweet me any time you want: @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitRoom.

You can also make an important contribution to those in Boston who need some help right now. End the show with this. Go to CNN.com/impact. You can impact your world. All the various charitable organizations that are trying to help those victims in Boston are there. They're legit. Go ahead. Give them some money. It's a good idea. It will be very, very important. It will make you feel good in the process, as well.

That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.