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American widow of Boston bombing suspect wants his body released to his Russian family

Stew Milne / AP

Katherine Russell, right, wife of Boston Marathon bomber suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, leaves the law office of DeLuca and Weizenbaum with Amato DeLuca, left, Monday, April 29, 2013, in Providence, R.I.

The widow of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev wants the Massachusetts Medical Examiner’s Office to release her husband's remains to his family.

Katherine Russell has chosen not to claim Tsarnaev's body and instead release the remains of the suspected terrorist back to his family, her attorney said in a statement on Tuesday.


"It is Katherine Russell's wish that his remains be released to the Tsarnaev family, and we will communicate her wishes to the proper authorities," lawyer Amato DeLuca said in a statement.

The release did not mention why Russell came to her decision. 

The 24-year-old widow, who returned to her family in Rhode Island days after the blasts, has spent hours meeting with FBI agents at her home and at her lawyer's office in Providence.

DeLuca announced that Russell has met with law enforcement officers "for many hours over the past week" and will continue to assist the investigation going forward.

"Katherine and her family continue to be deeply saddened by the harm that has been caused.  They mourn for the loss of life and the terrible consequences these events have had for those who have been injured and for their families," DeLuca said in the statement.

The brothers' parents, now living in Russia, said this past Sunday that they have abandoned initial plans to come to the United States to claim their older son's body and visit their younger son, who is currently being held at a prison medical facility.

The 26-year-old Tsarnaev died during a shootout with authorities on the streets of Watertown, Mass. Authorities say his 19-year-old brother and accomplice  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev ran him over and dragged the body after his older sibling ran out of ammo.

On Monday, FBI investigators took DNA samples from the Russell home in North Kingstown, R.I. Officials are trying to determine who else may have handled the pressure cookers that contained the bombs after they found a woman's DNA on at least one of them, an official said.

The medical examiner has determined Tamerlan Tsarnaev's cause of death but it will not become public until his body is released and a death certificate is filed.  Attorneys for Russell will need to formally relinquish her rights as next of kin. Once that occurs, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will designate someone to fill that role and then pick up the body.

The Tsarnaev's have other family living in the United States. On Tuesday night the suspects' uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who lives in Maryland, told the Associated Press "Of course, family members will take possession of the body."

Russell married the elder Tsarnaev brother in 2010 and said through her lawyer that their involvement in the deadly attack came as an "absolute shock."  

She converted to Islam after meeting her husband in a nightclub in 2009. She dropped out of college and the couple married. They have a child who is now three years old.

NBC's Betsy Cline and Reuters contributed to this post