The Waltham Murders, the Tsarnaevs, and Todashev: Is There a Drug Connection?

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Brendan Mess, and Ibragim Todashev

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Brendan Mess, and Ibragim Todashev

Good Morning!!

In this post, I’m going to pull together a number of facts, along with some speculation, to demonstrate how alleged Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev could be connected to a gruesome 2011 triple murder in Waltham MA, and how the murders are likely to be tied to drugs and drug dealing whether or not the Tsarnaevs were involved. I will suggest possible connections between the murders and two major drug busts that took place in the Waltham-Watertown area in 2011.

The reason this is important is that the FBI clearly wants very badly to pin the murders on the Tsarnaev brothers and Ibragim Todashev. I say this for two reasons:

1. The FBI has taken over the investigation of the murders, supposedly cooperating with the Middlesex District Attorney’s office.

2. On May 21 in Orlando, FL, an FBI agent shot and killed Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen man who was acquainted with Tamerlan Tsarnaev when they both lived in the Boston area. Anonymous sources have told multiple media outlets that the FBI was questioning Todahev about the Waltham murders and that he  had “implicated himself” and was about to sign a confession to his involvement before he was killed.

I want to emphasize that I am not at all convinced that the Tsarnaev brothers or Todashev had anything to do with the Waltham murders; but it’s clear that the FBI thinks so, and they have more information than I do. The purpose of this post is to demonstrate that if the Tsarnaevs were involved, it’s likely to be because of a drug connection rather than anything to do with Islamic “extremism” or terrorism. I also don’t believe the Boston Marathon bombings were inspired by Islamic “extremism,” but that’s a topic for another post.

NOTE: Please treat this as a regular morning reads post. As always, use the comment thread to discuss what I’ve written and/or post your own news links on any topic.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Connections to the Waltham Triple Murder

Law enforcement officials have said that they now suspect that Tamerlan Tsarnaev–and perhaps his younger brother Dzhokhar as well–may have been involved in the the murders of three men in Waltham, one of whom, Brendan Mess, was a fellow boxer and good friend of Tamerlan’s. It has even been suggested that authorities have DNA evidence that could connect both brothers to the crime.

The murders of the three men, Brendan Mess, 25, Erik Weissman, 31, and Raphael Teken, 37, took place on either September 11 or 12, 2011. The men’s throats were cut and their bodies were littered with large quantities of marijuana. In addition, $5,000 in cash was found in the apartment.

In my opinion it is most likely the motive for these murders had to do with drugs. There is evidence that each of the victims was not only a drug user but also at least a small-time drug dealer, active in the underground economy. If Tamerlan was a frequent visitor at this apartment, he was well aware of this; and there is evidence that Tamerlan and his family were also active in the underground economy.

One obvious question is why, if this were a drug-related murder, the perpetrators would leave behind large quantities of marijuana and cash. However, Brendan Mess’ girlfriend told the Boston Globe that Mess and Weissman had hidden in the apartment “a much larger amount of cash. She could not estimate how much.” Therefore, it’s possible that a large quantity of money was taken, and the marijuana and remaining cash were left in the apartment to send some sort of message.

A second question is why Tamerlan would kill his close friend. It has been reported that after he turned to religion and gave up drinking and smoking pot, Tamerlan became judgmental about his friend’s lifestyle choices. Tamerlan and Dzhokhar apparently had gone through some type of emotional transition that allowed them to kill and injure total strangers with bombs. Perhaps they grew to see their friends as somehow expendable also.

Mutual friends of Tamerlan and Brendan Mess said they noticed dramatic changes in Tamerlan after the murders. He did not go to Mess’ funeral and he seemed to drop out of sight, no longer going to the gyms he usually worked out at or staying in touch with former friends. One friend told Rosie Gray of Buzzfeed that immediately after the murders, Waltham detectives who questioned him told him that Tamerlan “may have been with Mess either the day of or the night before” the murders, so Tamerlan was apparently on law enforcement’s radar at the time.

The Waltham Victims and Drugs

As I’ve noted, the three murdered men each had a history of drug use and drug dealing as well as other run-ins with the law. According to  The Boston Globe, Erik Weissman was arrested for possession of marijuana with intent to distribute in 2008 and at the time he told police he had previously been arrested for possession. In 2011, Weissman was in trouble again.

According to court records reviewed by the Globe, on Jan. 17, 2011, Boston police searched Weissman’s Roslindale apartment and seized more than $21,000 in cash, along with drug paraphernalia and a wide assortment of drugs, including marijuana, hashish, cocaine, and Oxycontin.

After the bust, Weissman was broke and homeless, so he moved in with Mess. One important caveat: Weissman’s attorney told the Globe that Weissman was not trying to resolve his case by informing on anyone. He argued that the murders therefore could not be “an act of retribution by a drug supplier who may have been involved with Weissman.”

Also according to the Globe, Raphael Teken did not live with Mess and Weissman; he lived at another address in Waltham, “and two neighbors who asked to remain anonymous said they believed he was a drug dealer, saying he rarely left the house and had a steady stream of visitors.”

Brendan Mess had also been in trouble, though not for drugs. According to the Globe:

On a Sunday afternoon in summer 2010, Brendan H. Mess, a close friend of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and a specialist in mixed martial arts, was walking along a Cambridge street when he came face to face with a police officer. The patrol­man was investigating a complaint that Mess, then 24, had attacked a group of people near Inman Square, breaking one man’s nose and leaving another with a bloody mouth.

Rather than cooperate, Mess began yelling at the officer, at one point saying, “I can knock you out if I wanted to,” according to the officer’s ­report. Soon, three additional officers arrived, and Mess was hit with a chemical spray, wrestled to the ground, and handcuffed.

Even then, police said, Mess continued threatening the officers.

Finally, Mess and Weissman told another friend shortly before the murders that they had big plans for their future in the drug trade. From NPR:

Christopher Medeiros, who described himself a close friend of Mess, said he believes the killings were drug-related. He said Mess and another one of the victims, Erik Weissman, were marijuana dealers and had been trying to start a major growing operation.

“The Friday before he died, (Mess) told me, ‘Listen, I’m getting ready to make this big move,'” Medeiros said. “And I think that’s what cost him his life.”

Read the rest of this entry »

“Mounting Evidence” Tsarnaev Brothers Involved in Waltham MA Triple Murder in 2011 — ABC News

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (drawing from The New Yorker)

Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (drawing from The New Yorker)



Stunning news just breaking now from ABC News: ‘Mounting Evidence’ Boston Bombers Involved in 2011 Triple Murder

Massachusetts investigators have developed what they call “mounting evidence,” bolstered by “forensic hits,” that point to the possible involvement of both Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar in a gruesome, unsolved triple homicide in 2011, law enforcement officials told ABC News.

The officials cautioned that until more definitive DNA testing is complete, it is still too early to consider bringing an indictment against the younger of the two brothers, who officials said has admitted his role in the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three and injured 260 more on April 15. Tamerlan was killed in a shootout with police days after the Marathon bombing attack, but Dhzokhar survived and was captured.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s “best friend” Brendan Mess was murdered along with Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken in Mess’ apartment in Waltham, MA on September 11, 2011, the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. Knowing what we know now, that Tamerlan believed the 2001 attacks were a Jewish conspiracy to turn Americans against muslims.

Tamerlan and Mess were once roommates and did boxing and martial arts training together.

Now law enforcement officials tell ABC News that some crime scene forensic evidence provided a match to the two Tsarnaev brothers. The officials also said records of cell phones used by the Tsarnaevs appears to put them in the area of the murders on that date. Several officials confirmed the new findings but declined to be identified because they are not authorized to comment on the ongoing investigation.

A number of Tamerlan’s friends have reportedly begun to suspect that he may have been involved in the murders, but this is the first time I’ve heard any mention of a connection to Dzhokhar. One reason the friends became suspicious is that Tamerlan did not go to his supposed “best friend’s” funeral.

Back to the ABC story:

…the case went cold, until photos of the Boston Marathon suspects were released and family and friends of the Waltham victims recognized them and remembered Tamerlan’s strange behavior after the murders. He did not attend his friend’s funeral and vanished from the martial arts gyms where the men had sparred together.

Then, Gerry’s Italian Kitchen became a focal point again on April 24, nine days after the Marathon bombing, after investigators removed a Planet Aid charity donation bin from its parking lot. A driver had discovered discarded fireworks inside and law enforcement sources told ABC News the gunpowder had been removed from the cartridges.

This led to investigators questioning whether Tamerlan had ever worked at Gerry’s. “The eatery’s management” told ABC that neither of the brothers ever worked there. Still…

looking back, multiple residents of Waltham and Watertown remember Tamerlan Tsarnaev delivering food to their homes and Tsarnaev family members have told reporters the brothers worked as pizza deliverymen. The eatery’s management, however, steadfastly denied that either Tsarnaev brother worked there.

Scott Wood, a jiu jitsui trainer who befriended and trained Mess at a martial arts studio in Vermont, said he always believed whoever the killer or killers were, they got in Mess’ home “under the guise of being a friend.”

This is a breaking story. I’ll update if I get more information.