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Who's who in the Boston Marathon bombing investigation

More details about the Boston Marathon bombing emerged Wednesday — two and a half weeks after the attack killed three people and wounded more than 200 — when two college friends of suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were charged with removing a backpack and a laptop from his dorm room and another was charged with lying about it to the feds.

The laptop was turned over to the FBI, one of the friend's lawyer said, and a backpack containing deconstructed fireworks was ultimately recovered from a landfill. The friends also revealed that Tsarnaev has boasted that he knew how to make a bomb about a month before the attack.

Now, as the pool of evidence against Tsarnaev grows, so does the list of people related to or involved in the case. The friends — college classmates Azamat Tazhayakov, Dias Kadyrbayev, and Robel Phillipos — are only the most recent names to be added to a list that includes family members, a boxing coach, law enforcement officials, a car hijacking victim, a mechanic and of course the victims killed April 15: Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Liu. 

Here is a guide to the many people involved in the Boston Marathon bombing case, and what we know (and don’t) about them.


The Lowell Sun & Robin Young via AP

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, left, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: Naturalized American citizen of Chechen descent and the sole surviving suspect in the attack, recovering in a federal prison hospital in Massachusetts. He was injured in a firefight with Watertown, Mass., police three days after the bombing, and was captured in a boat parked in a Watertown backyard. Investigators say he told them that he and his brother acted alone and carried out the attack to defend Islam after the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev: Older brother of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He was killed in the firefight in Watertown — though how he died, from police fire or from being run over by his brother, is not clear. He was a legal permanent resident of the United States and a competitive boxer who traveled to Russia for six months in 2012. Russian authorities asked the U.S. for information about him twice in 2011, and U.S. investigators found no sign of terrorist activity. U.S. investigators say the Russians never answered their request for more information on why they were seeking intelligence.


Reuters, AP, Getty Images

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, Anzor Tsarnaev, Katherine Russell and Ruslan Tsarni

Zubeidat Tsarnaeva: Mother of the Tsarnaev brothers. She has insisted that the two are being framed. Russian authorities have told American investigators that they captured a conversation between her and Tamerlan Tsarnaev in which the pair discussed jihad. She was placed in a U.S. terror database in the fall of 2011, according to a counterterrorism official.

Anzor Tsarnaev: Father of the Tsarnaev brothers. He was an attorney in Russia, then worked as an auto mechanic in the United States after the family emigrated a decade ago. He has told NBC News that he has brain disease and returned to Russia to die. He also insists his sons are innocent: “You could kill me,” he said, “but I would never believe they had anything to do with this.”

Katherine Russell: American widow of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the mother of his young daughter. She returned to her family in Rhode Island after the blasts and has met with the FBI. As investigators try to determine who else may have handled the pressure cookers that contained the bombs, they have taken DNA samples from Russell's home. At least one pressure cooker had a woman’s DNA on it, an official said.

Ruslan Tsarni: Uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers, living in Maryland. First became known hours after the capture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, when he gave an emotional press conference outside his home in which he said that the brothers were “losers” who brought shame to Chechens.

Zahara Tsarnaev: Three-year-old daughter of Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Katherine Russell.



Azamat Tazhayakov, left, Dias Kadyrbayev, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Azamat Tazhayakov: College friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. From Kazakhstan, he is 19 and in the United States on a student visa. He was charged Wednesday with plotting to remove items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room, including a laptop and a backpack containing fireworks.

Dias Kadyrbayev: College friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He is also 19 and in the United States on a student visa from Kazakhstan, and was charged Wednesday with plotting to remove items from Tsarnaev’s dorm room. He recognized Dzhokhar Tsarnaev from video from the bombing scene and texted him about it, court papers say. The papers say Tsarnaev texted back: “lol.”

Robel Phillipos: College friend of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He is an American from Cambridge, Mass., and was charged with lying to investigators.

“Mischa”: Also spelled in some accounts as “Misha.” Described by Tsarni, the uncle, as a friend from the United States who may have radicalized Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tsarni told NBC News that Mischa presented himself as an “exorcist” who specialized in “removing demons from people’s bodies.” Investigators later downplayed Mischa’s role in the story.


John Curran: Former boxing coach of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He remembered Tsarnaev as a gifted athlete and respectful, and said it was “mind-blowing to think” that Tsarnaev might have been behind the attack.

Gilberto Junior: Cambridge auto mechanic who said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev brought a car to the shop during the week between the bombing and the capture. Junior said Tsarnaev was biting his fingernails and shaking. He told NBC affiliate WJAR: “He said he wanted it right now. I said I haven't even started working on the car. He says, ‘I don’t care. I don’t care. Right now. Give me the keys.’ He took the keys, got the car out of the parking lot and left.”

David Henneberry: Homeowner and boat enthusiast who lives in Watertown, Mass. When authorities lifted their order for people in the Boston area to stay in their homes, late on April 19, he went out for a smoke and noticed his boat, parked beside the house, didn’t look right. It turned out to be where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was hiding.


“Danny”: Chinese entrepreneur who authorities say was carjacked by the marathon bombing suspects on the night of April 18, and has concealed his identity in media interviews in recent days. He told NBC News that he made his move to escape at a gas station, when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev left to pump gas. Tamerlan Tsarnaev tried to grab him as he lunged out of the car, he said. “I think I was really lucky,” he told TODAY. “God was with me.”


MIT via Getty Images, MBTA via AP

MIT campus police officer Sean Collier, left, and MBTA transit police officer Richard Donahue

Sean Collier: A campus police officer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was shot dead in his patrol car the night of April 18 — the beginning of the wild sequence of events that led to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s capture and Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s death, authorities say. He was known for his ability to make foreign students at MIT feel comfortable.

Richard Donohue: Transit officer severely injured in the firefight in Watertown. In a message Wednesday to well-wishers, he said that he had “almost no blood and no pulse” when he was taken to the hospital but believes he will fully recover. He said that a bullet will probably remain lodged in his leg, but he joked that it should only cause pain for his wife: “I will be using it to get out of things such as mowing the lawn, doing laundry and painting the deck.”


AFP - Getty Images, Getty Images, AP

Richard DesLauriers, left, Thomas Menino and Deval Patrick

Richard DesLauriers: Plainspoken special agent in charge of the Boston office of the FBI. A day after the attack, he vowed: “We will go to the ends of the earth to find the suspects responsible for this despicable crime.” Two days later, he released the photos that started a manhunt for the men later identified as the Tsarnaev brothers.

Thomas Menino: Mayor of Boston, affectionately known as “Mumbles” for his speaking style. “This is Boston,” he said at a prayer service three days after the attack. “A city with the courage, compassion and strength that knows no bounds.”

Deval Patrick: Governor of Massachusetts. Issued the April 19 order for people in and around Boston to stay in their homes while authorities hunted for the suspects. He told “Meet the Press” the following weekend that it was important that civic rituals like the marathon go on, and pledged that it will be bigger than ever. “So many acts of kindness and — and grace shown to victims and to others in the course of this,” he said. “This has been just a really beautiful thing to behold.”


AP, Campbell family

Martin Richard, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu

Martin Richard: Eight-year-old boy killed near the marathon finish line. He was remembered as soft-spoken and sweet, and was pictured in a heartbreaking photo from school holding a poster that said “No More Hurting People.”

Krystle Campbell: Restaurant manager killed in the attack. Remembered by President Barack Obama this way at the prayer service: “Those who knew her said that with her red hair and her freckles and her ever-eager willingness to speak her mind, she was beautiful, sometimes she could be a little noisy, and everybody loved her for it.”

Lingzi Lu: Boston University graduate student killed in the attack. She was watching the race with two friends, and the day before had learned that she passed the first half of her master’s degree exams. The chairman of the BU math and statistics department recalled: “She’s a very bright young scientist. Enthusiastic, very bubbly, talkative. Her friends are going to miss her deeply.”

Elizabeth Chuck, Staff Writer, NBC News contributed to this report.

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