It appears Tamerlan Tsarnaev displayed a disturbing pattern of verbal abuse and violence toward women that included fits of rage against his wife Katherine Russell and an arrest in 2009 for slapping ex-girlfriend Nadine Ascencao, according to police records and accounts from those who knew him.
Close friends of his wife Katherine Russell, 24, claimed today that Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was combative, angry and controlling.
Katherine Russell Tsarnaev hasn’t spoken publicly about her husband since he was killed in a shootout with police in Watertown early Friday morning. But it appears she spoke to federal authorities for the first time on Tuesday, after she was spotted leaving her Rhode Island family home with her lawyer and three federal investigators. She returned home nearly four hours later with her mother.
Afterwards, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev’s lawyers released a statement at her request that claimed she has been “doing everything she can to assist with the investigation”.
“The injuries and loss of life – to people who came to celebrate a race and a holiday – has caused profound distress and sorrow to Katie and her family,” the statement read.
“The reports of involvement by her husband and brother-in-law came as an absolute shock to them all.”
Three of Katherine Russell’s friends told National Public Radio’s Laura Sullivan that Tamerlan Tsarnaev would often insult Katherine and call her names, such as “slut” and “prostitute”.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was known to fly into fits of rage where he would throw objects, including furniture, friends said.
Katherine Russell Tsarnaev’s lawyer, Amato DeLuca, said she was a student at Suffolk University when she was introduced to Tamerlan Tsarnaev at a nightclub. He didn’t specify the exact date that they met, though it’s believed to be sometime during 2009.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was seeing another woman at the time, he said.
“They went out for a while, and then they stopped and then they went out again,” Amato DeLuca said.
It’s possible the other woman that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was apparently dating was 25-year-old Nadine Ascencao of Brookline, Massachusetts.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev was arrested in July 2009 for allegedly slapping Nadine Ascencao, according to court records.
Nadine Ascencao was “crying hysterically” and called 911 to report that she was “beat up by her boyfriend”, Cambridge Police Officer Angela Pereira wrote in the arrest report.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev told Angela Pereira and another officer that his girlfriend “was yelling at him because of another girl”.
Asked whether he had hit Nadine Ascencao, Tamerlan Tsarnaev stated: “Yes, I slapped her.”
He specifically stated that he struck the left side of her face.
Eleven months later, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was apparently no longer dating Nadine Ascencao. He had persuaded Katherine Russell to convert from Christianity to Islam and the couple married on June 21, 2010.
Around the same time, Katherine Russell became pregnant with Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s baby.
Katherine Russell Tsarnaev dropped out of school in her senior year and reportedly began pulling away from her friends and family.
Mary Silberman, whose apartment backs up to Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s Cambridge home, said she often heard loud arguments late at night that mostly consisted of a woman’s voice yelling at a man.
“It wasn’t enough to call the police,” Mary Silberman told Reuters.
“It didn’t sound like anyone was in physical danger.”
But the shouting was often loud enough to keep her awake at night. Mary Silberman could also hear the couple’s daughter, Zahara, now 3-year-old, wailing at night and she often wondered why the mother wasn’t responding, she said.
As the girl grew into a toddler, Mary Silberman said she would see Zahara staring out the window.
Since Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s death, Katherine Russell has been staying with her family in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
Her lawyer, Amato DeLuca, told CNN on Monday that the 24-year-old is “very distraught” and “cries a lot”.
Regarding the bomb plot, Amato DeLuca said: “She knew nothing about it at any time.”
“The whole family is a mess, to put it bluntly,” lawyer said.
“They’re very distraught. They’re upset. Their lives have been unalterably changed. They’re upset because of what happened, the people that were injured, that were killed. It’s an awful, terrible thing.”
Katherine Russell Tsarnaev works 70 to 80 hours a week as a home health aide, according to family members. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was unemployed.