Last week two bombs were exploded during the Boston Marathon, wounding over 150, and killing three. A police officer was killed and one injured during an extended and ultimately successful effort to aprehend the suspected bombers, brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
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Shortly after the brothers were identified as suspects in the bombing, images appeared in the media of the elder brother, Tamerlan, sparring in 2010 at the high-regarded fight gym Wai Kru.
Tsarnaev, who was a competitive amateur boxer and went to Wai Kru infrequently to spar, had expressed aspirations of turning pro.
A recent report on CBS said that he also considered competing in mixed martial arts, and that one of his training partners was one-time amateur MMA fighter Brendan Mess, described as his best friend.
There is now an investigation into whether Tsarnaev could have been involved in Mess's grisly 2011 murder, which took place on the anniversary of 9/11.
In the wake of the revelations about the violent nature of accused marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, investigators in the Boston suburbs tell ABC News they are probing whether he may have been involved in an unsolved grisly triple homicide of a former roommate and two others.
"We are looking at a possible connection with the suspect in the marathon atrocity and this active and open homicide in Waltham,'' confirmed Stephanie Guyotte, a spokeswoman for the Middlesex County District Attorney.
Tsarnaev had been training with one of the 2011 murder victims in an attempt to transition from boxing into a possible career in mixed martial arts.
The victims were found in a Waltham, Massachusetts apartment. They had their throat slashed, their heads nearly decapitated. Their mutilated bodies were left covered with marijuana.
It was a gruesome scene – but also perplexing to law enforcement. While drugs appeared to factor into the motive, the murderer left both the marijuana and five thousand dollars in cash behind in the Waltham apartment. While the investigation has been active for more than a year, authorities acknowledged they have had few leads.
Two law enforcement sources told ABC News that may now change, with the bomb attack prompting a fresh look into Tsarnaev's alleged penchant for violence.
Even before the bombing, police records show, there was an indication of a rage growing inside of Tsarnaev. Court documents show in July 2009 he was arrested for domestic violence after his then-girlfriend made a frantic 911 to report she was "being beat up by her boyfriend." The police report, which was redacted to hide the girlfriend's name, says that Tsarnaev admitted to responding officers that he slapped her. The case was later dismissed.
Tsarnaev had also been close to one of the murder victims, 25-year-old Brendan Mess, investigators told ABC. The two had been training together in a local gym – each helping the other with a missing element from their fighting arsenal. Tsarnaev, a golden-gloves heavy weight boxer, lacked martial arts training. And Mess, an experienced jiu jitsu competitor, lacked boxing experience.
The two sparred together at an Allston, MA gym called Wai Kru. The gym's head trainer, John Allan, provided a statement to the Boston Globe via Facebook message saying that Tamerlan "came into the gym to spar from time to time."
Tsarnaev and Mess lived just a few blocks apart in Cambridge, in the same predominantly Russian neighborhood. Authorities believe there were times Mess crashed at Tsarnaev's apartment.
It was unclear if Tsarnaev knew the other men slain, Raphael Teken, 37, and Erik Weissman, 31.
A Waltham investigator who called the murders "the worst bloodbath I have ever seen in a long law enforcement career" said Tsarnaev has now proven he had the propensity for the type of violence that unfolded two years ago.
"There was no forced entry, it was clear that the victims had let the killer in. And their throats were slashed right out of an al Qaeda training video. The drugs and money on the bodies was very strange," the investigator said.
Mess, who was Jewish, was a close friend of Tsarnaev. So friends thought it was especially strange when Tsarnaev did not show up at Mess's funeral.
"Tam wasn't there at the memorial service, he wasn't at the funeral, he wasn't around at all," said a friend of the murdered men. "And he was really close with Brendan. That's why it's so weird when he said, 'I don't have any American friends.' He was somebody who was in contact with Brendan on a daily basis. Anybody like that, you would think they would have been around."
One of Mess' relatives yesterday likewise told investigators they thought it was odd that Tsarnaev did not attend the funerals for his slain friend. The Mess relative also described animosity between the two friends "over Brendan's lifestyle,'' two law enforcement sources said. Because it is an open homicide investigation the sources were not authorized to speak on the record.
"Given how religious the older brother was, and we have heard information from the college about how the younger brother was 'a pot head' is there a chance that Tsarnaev was angry that Brendan was selling his brother marijuana? We don't know,'' said one of those sources. "But we are certainly interested in finding out."
Tsarnaev and Mess had been socializing together in the months before the murder, according to a Massachusetts correction officer who met up with a group of fighters that included Tsarnaev and Mess at a June 2011 Mixed Martial Arts event run by Burlington Brawl, a Vermont-based fighting outfit. Tsarnaev impressed the group with his golden gloves status, but largely kept to himself during the evening.
"We were all drinking beers, but not that guy," the correction officer said. " He was drinking water.''
Anyone with information about the brothers is encouraged to call the Boston Police Department’s tip line: 1-800-494-TIPS or the bombing task force tip line at 617-223-6610. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org
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