UPDATE (4:15 p.m.): The three college friends who removed a backpack and a laptop from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room hoped to keep their friend out of trouble, even though they knew he was a wanted man.
One of the friends charged today with conspiring to obstruct justice, Dias Kadyrbayev, told investigators when he saw fireworks emptied of their gunpowder in Tsarnaev’s backpack, he knew his friend was involved in the attack. But he still wanted to stop law enforcement officials from catching him.
After the FBI released photos of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother Tamerlan, Kadyrbayev received a text from the suspect: “I'm about to leave if you need something in my room take it,” according to the FBI. It is not clear whether investigators believe that message was an instruction to destroy evidence.
But Azamat Tazhayakov said when Kadyrbayev showed him the text, he doubted he would ever see Tsarnaev alive again. Then men also told investigators Tsarnaev told them about a month before the attack that he knew how to make a bomb.
Kadyrbayev, Tazhayakov and a third friend, Robel Phillipos, took the backpack and Tsarnaev’s laptop and threw it in the trash near their apartment. Investigators later found the backpack in a nearby landfill. It is not clear from the affidavit whether investigators also found the laptop.
Kadyrbayev and Tazhayakov are from Kazakhstan and could face up to 5 years in prison if convicted. Phillipos, who was charged with making false statements to investigators, faces up to eight years in jail.
UPDATE (3:15 p.m.): The two suspects charged today for conspiring to obstruct justice in the Boston bombing investigation removed a backpack from Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s dorm room after they realized he was a suspect in the attack.
The backpack contained fireworks emptied of gunpowder.
A third man, now named as Robel Phillipos, is charged with making false statements to investigators. All three are expected to appear in federal court later today.
UPDATE (1:15 p.m.): A Boston attorney representing two students being held for immigration violations confirmed this afternoon that her clients are facing federal charges related to the marathon bombings.
Azamat Tazhayakov and Dias Kadyrbayev have been in jail for more than a week on allegations they violated their student visas while attending the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, the same college where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev studied.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said charges against the three new suspects would be unsealed Wednesday afternoon.
EARLIER STORY: Boston police have arrested three more suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. After making the announcement via Twitter Wednesday morning, police officials referred all questions to the FBI.
According to some media reports, all three are students and have been charged with making false statements to investigators and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Their names have not been released, although an unnamed source told CNN two are students from New Bedford, Mass. The third is a U.S. citizen, according to reports.
Until now, federal investigators insisted Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev acted alone in the April 15 attack. Tamerlan, 26, died in a gunfight with police four days later. Dzhokhar remains in custody at a federal health facility about 40 miles outside Boston. He sustained several gunshot wounds during his attempt to evade arrest.
Also on Wednesday, Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow, Katherine Russell, declined to claim his body from the morgue, authorizing it to be released to family members instead. Tsarnaev’s parents remain in Russia and say they have no immediate plans to return to the United States.
Refusing to claim her husband’s body is just the latest step Russell has taken to distance herself from the alleged attackers. Earlier this week, she dropped her married surname, Tsarnaeva. Russell, who has a 3-year-old daughter, said through her lawyer she had no idea what her husband and brother-in-law had planned.
But investigators announced Tuesday they had found female DNA on one of the bomb fragments found after the attack, raising speculation she might have come into contact with the device. Investigators are still conducting tests to find out whose DNA it is.
Check back for more updates on this developing story.