Maura Healey Hasn’t Been Briefed on the Waltham Triple Murder Case
Nearly half a year after stepping into office, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey still has not been briefed on the 2011 Waltham triple murder, which, had it been solved, may have prevented the Boston Marathon bombing.
“She doesn’t have any knowledge that the general public doesn’t know,” said her communications director Cindi Gonzalez.
The murder is open and under investigation by the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office.
Gonzalez said Healey has not been briefed on the case or even spoken to District Attorney Marian Ryan about the homicide.
“We’re not looking to get involved in that investigation,” Gonzalez said.
On September 11, 2011, in a Waltham apartment, three marijuana dealers, Brendan Mess, Raphael Teken, and Erik Weissman, were nearly decapitated. The killers dumped about a pound and a half of pot on two of their bodies and left $5,000 on the crime scene.
For a year and a half, there were no new leads. We reported that local police let the case go cold after 11 days, and never questioned the would-be Boston Marathon bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev. Tsarnaev once described himself as one of Mess’s “best friends.”
Only after Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his younger brother Dzhokhar set off two pressure cooker bombs in the heart of Boston, murdered four people, and brutally injured hundreds of others, did state police in conjunction with the FBI start looking into the case again.
A month after the bombing, Tsarnaev’s friend Ibragim Todashev allegedly implicated himself and Tsarnaev in the murders after being interviewed by two Massachusetts State Troopers and a Boston FBI agent in his apartment for five hours. But on the fifth hour, Todashev allegedly attacked the officers. FBI shot Todashev seven times, killing him. Todashev never finished writing his confession.
The case was brought into the limelight again this week after an interview on WGBH’s Radio Boston when host Jim Braude pressed Healey about the murder case. If the two suspects are dead, why doesn’t the DA close the case?, he asked.
“You mentioned two, I’m not sure that it was limited to two suspects,” she said.
“Is there intimations that there were people other than Todashev and Tsarnaev who were responsible for the three killings?” Braude asked.
“That’s my understanding. That’s the basis for the continued look,” she said.
But Gonzales says Healey’s statement was based only on a press release Ryan’s office released on April 1, 2014, after both the Department of Justice and a Florida State attorney cleared the agent who shot Todashev of any wrongdoing.
“Identifying all parties responsible for that terrible incident remains a top priority for the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, the Waltham Police Department, and the Massachusetts State Police,” the statement said.
In the statement, Ryan’s office asserted, as they do today, that the office cannot release any information about the triple homicide because it is an open investigation.
Gonzalez has said that the Waltham murder case is “not her investigation” because it is being investigated by the Middlesex DA.
Her predecessor, Martha Coakley, said the same thing, despite pleas from civil rights groups after Todashev, a key suspect, was killed during the course of the investigation.
But though Massachusetts Attorney Generals do not typically involve themselves in state murder cases, legal experts say that technically, they can. According to Massachusetts General Law statute 12 section 27, the Attorney General can take over any investigation handled by a Massachusetts District Attorney.
Though officials have released no new information about the homicide, Todashev’s family is attempting to sue the FBI for $30 million, saying the bureau breached its duty to keep him safe by interviewing him in his own home with so few officers in the room.
Tamerlan’s brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was formally sentenced to death in Boston’s federal court Wednesday.