Sunday, December 29, 2013

Krystle Campbell died of cardiac arrest

It is unknown if the defense team of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is still struggling to obtain autopsy records of the three expired victims of the bombings. In the case of Krystle Campbell - unlike the other two victims -, they are in part substitutable by the report of Allan Panter, the physician who was accidentally at the first bomb site, was unharmed, and tried to save her life. His account is somewhat surprising, in his own words: puzzling.

Update 12/30/13: CNN aired an interview with Dr. Panter on the evening of April 15th, earlier than O'Reilly and probably the earliest TV interview with him at all.

MORGAN: Thanks very much. I want to bring in Dr. Alan Painter and his wife, Theresa. Alan Painter is a doctor at the E.R., Boston -- treating the Boston Marathon victims today. His wife actually ran in the marathon today. An extraordinary day for the family. Welcome to you, Dr. Painter. Can you tell me when you first heard what had happened today?

DR. ALAN PAINTER, TREATING BOSTON MARATHON VICTIMS: I was standing about 20, 25 feet from the initial blast, so I knew immediately what was going on.

MORGAN: Obviously you knew that your wife Theresa was running. Your first thoughts I guess must have been where on earth she was and was she safe.

PAINTER: It was. And I would like to commend the Boston Athletic Association and the police, paramedics here, they did an outstanding job. My wife was about two-tenths of a mile from the finish line and they pushed her back from the second blast area so it was pretty impressive, their response.

MORGAN: Theresa, you were running in the marathon. You were near the finishing line. What was your reaction when you heard the first explosion go off? THERESA PAINTER, BOSTON MARATHON RUNNER: Well, I really wasn't paying attention and then when I heard the bomb and saw the reaction of the spectators, I was just alarmed. And then I was pushed back by a spectator, and Boston Athletic officials grabbed a bunch of us and pushed us back. So it was pretty upsetting.

MORGAN: And Dr. Painter, you actually went to the Harris Regional Medical Center, I believe. Is that right? Were you treating people there today?

DR. PAINTER: No. I was treating people on the streets and assisted transferring them into the medical tent. I work in Harris Regional Medical Center in (INAUDIBLE) North Carolina.

MORGAN: So you were actually treating people on the streets. What were you seeing? What was the type of injury, how many people did you see injured there?

DR. PAINTER: I saw at least six to seven people down next to me. They protected me from the blast. One lady expired, one lady -- one gentleman lost both his limbs, lower extremities. Most of the injuries were lower extremities. I could not figure out why the young lady had expired, could not find any injury on her thorax. The other people I saw were mainly lower extremity injuries.

MORGAN: Have you ever seen injuries like this in your time working in Boston?

DR. PAINTER: No. I have not had experience with blast injuries in the past. I'm not military, so basically I'm used to more gunshot wounds.

O'REILLY: So first tell us about the woman who eventually died, Doctor - were you the first on scene there?

PANTER: I was one of the first, I don't know if I was the first one. Several people converged on the mass of bodies. We pulled a gentleman out from under her and then began working on her, too. She was basically in an arrest at the time. We thought we had a faint pulse. We started CPR (unintelligible) pulse or not. We started to kind of breathe her using an ambu bag. We ended up transporting her to the medical tent where she unfortunately expired.

O'REILLY: So she went into cardiac arrest, did she have other injuries from the bombing?

PANTER: She had injuries that we could visualize of her lower extremities, but could not find any obvious injury to her chest or abdomen, which was kind of puzzling. There was no evidence of shrapnel wounds to her chest that we could find on a cursory examining that we did. It was kind of puzzling. I don't know were these totally blast effects or what that caused the arrest.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure for manually preserving brain function until further measures to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest. It is indicated in those who are unresponsive with no breathing or abnormal breathing, for example, agonal respirations. (Source: Wikipedia)

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. SCA usually causes death if it's not treated within minutes.

To understand SCA, it helps to understand how the heart works. The heart has an electrical system that controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. Problems with the heart's electrical system can cause irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias.

There are many types of arrhythmias. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. Some arrhythmias can cause the heart to stop pumping blood to the body—these arrhythmias cause SCA.

SCA is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack occurs if blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked. During a heart attack, the heart usually doesn't suddenly stop beating. SCA, however, may happen after or during recovery from a heart attack.

People who have heart disease are at higher risk for SCA. However, SCA can happen in people who appear healthy and have no known heart disease or other risk factors for SCA.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

FBI-released photo: remnants of the second bomb?

In the evening of April 16th, Associated Press released a few photos of remnants of the Marathon bombs, obtained from the FBI and the DHS. Most of these photos show deformed parts of a pressure cooker. The picture above - which belongs to this set of photos - shows a torn black backpack which served as a container for one of the pressure cookers. The Guardian has a good overview of what has been released.

It was not reported whether the torn backpack was found at the first or the second bomb site. For Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, this question is of potential live-saving importance because the scrap piece clearly doesn't belong to his light-colored bag.

The background of the photo shows asphalt and a line marking. Thus the object lies on the street, not on the sidewalk. The photo was obviously shot before the object was picked up and saved by forensic experts. Thus the photo shows almost surely Boylston street, and the only remaining question is if it was taken at the first or the second bomb site. The marking helps to answer this question: it is too wide (at least 1 foot, compared with the backpack) to be one of the slim lane segregation markings, and the tire imprints are transversal to the line, which leads to the same result: it must belong either to a stop line or a crosswalk as they occur at crossings.

There is a crossing very close to the second bomb site, with a stop line and a crosswalk. There is no crossing and therefore no 1 foot wide line marking in the immediate vicinity of the first bomb site. Conclusion: the photo must have been shot at the second bomb site. In any case, the defense must call out the FBI on the object's place of finding.

Moreover, there is no object visible on photos of the aftermath of the first bomb site which could possibly be the scrap piece in the FBI photo. But aftermath photos and videos of the second bomb site very well show such an object, right at the stop line near the Forum. It is the biggest scrap piece on the street and matches in size, shape and color the torn backpack in the FBI photo. Lacking any alternative, it is most probably the backpack of the photo.

Here is a selection of pictures taken within the first five minutes after the explosion (for the original URLs, see here and here). The object in question is framed by a yellow rectangle. The times indicate minutes/seconds after the second blast. They have been determined with the help of the Fred Land video - see here.




3:02 (0:23 in the Daniel Robert video; from 0:20 to 0:30 the object is distinctly visible in the lower right corner).

At some time between 3:10 and 4:30, the object has moved (probably inadvertently kicked) 3 feet towards the stop line, now matching the position of the FBI photo.



Thursday, December 05, 2013

April 17, 2013: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev spotted on surveillance video, wanted as a witness

Update 12/10/2013: I added the transcript of another CBS News clip with Bob Orr to the appendix, aired at about 3:38 p.m. on April 17th. Orr reports that investigators were matching cell phone logs with images from a young white man with a white baseball cap. The images were taken from the Lord & Taylor video and processed by facial recognition software - but the suspect was not yet identified and not yet called a suspect. 

For a better understanding, the reader is advised to read my preceding blog entry at first in case he doesn't know it already.
This CBS News webpage from April 17th comprises a video clip and a text. Both of them clearly refer to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev while he's standing in front of the Forum, makes his phone call, and moves away before the explosion, just as it is described in the criminal complaint. The TV clip was aired at about 2:40 p.m., with Bob Orr reporting a "man with a white baseball cap backwards" to anchorman Scott Pelley; the text is dated 6:45 p.m. and adds a comment by CBS's "special FBI consultant" John Miller. A transcript of the video snippet is in the appendix.

The earlier "arrested suspect" story, primarily but way not exclusively promoted by John King of CNN, was just in meltdown when Orr broke the new information. The crucial question is now of course whether the man reported by Orr (i.e. Tsarnaev) is identical to the individual reported by King.

At first it is important to note that Tsarnaev was not firmly considered a suspect by CBS's sources. Orr himself delivers no assessment, but his dialog partner Pelley carefully outlines the FBI's approach: Tsarnaev was "a person they want to speak with", "either a witness or potentially a suspect". How did Pelley achieve these informations? Certainly it was Orr who told him about the development and the status of Tsarnaev before the program started.

There are many additional points why it's impossible that Tsarnaev is King's suspect:

- CNN reported a dark skinned male, but Tsarnaev's skin is not dark, and CBS described him here explicitly as a "white male".

- CNN reported that the suspect planted a black bag at the bomb site, but Tsarnaev's bag was light-colored; a fact not changed at all by CBS also mentioning a black backpack. This error was probably induced by the inflationary usage of the term "black backpack" in the hours before.

- CNN excitedly reported a big breakthrough; but according to CBS, the FBI regarded Tsarnaev only as a person to speak with, a witness, or a potential suspect at most. These attributes hardly constitute an exciting breakthrough.

- CNN emphasized the outstanding role of the Lord & Taylor surveillance video and the enhancement techniques applied to it, enabling a clear facial recognition of the suspect; CBS concentrated solely on the evaluation of the cell phone call logs.

- CNN reported the arrest of the suspect; but Tsarnaev was not arrested on that day.

John Miller's comment in the text part of the link is more food for thought:
CBS News senior correspondent John Miller said that the big case Wednesday was whether to make the case to release that photo and go out and say this is the person who is being sought or to hold that back.

"It's been a tough call," said Miller. "For investigators, there's always a difficult choice because if the person doesn't know you're looking for him, he may stay in place, you may catch up to him. If he does know you're looking for him, he may run. On the other hand, if you don't get him, it's always great to enlist 20 million or so more eyes in the public who may be able to give you a location right away. That's not going to happen tonight anymore. It was going to happen earlier -- they've rethought that. It may happen with the release of that picture tomorrow. They're reassessing."
At first, Miller abandons the caution of Pelley and Orr; for him, Tsarnaev is definitely no witness, but a suspect. Then he explains at length why the FBI has not released a photo of the "person": because he may be warned and run away. Miller apparently doesn't realize that the leaked details about the person (white baseball cap backwards etc.) were too vague for the "20 million public eyes" to identify him, but easily sufficient for the person himself to recognize that he was the one the investigators were looking for. In other words, it was extremely stupid and a lose-lose decision to release vague verbal information about a wanted person instead of a photo.

So what does Miller try to achieve with these ill-considered remarks? They look like an attempt to explain the information clutter on April 17th through the alleged "difficult choice" between releasing a photo and holding it back. But as investigators have obviously made the worst choice at all, i.e. releasing vague verbal information instead of photos, this explanation requires extremely stupid investigators and is therefore extremely unlikely.
Miller's real intention seems to be to downplay the damaging early reports about the dark-skinned suspect by identifying him with Tsarnaev: the public is told that the (alleged) confusion at CNN and Boston Globe arose only because investigators could not agree on how to handle the case. Again Miller outs himself as a gatekeeper for the FBI.

Appendix: CBS News transcript April 17th, 2:40 p.m. 

SCOTT PELLEY: There has been a development in the Boston Marathon bombing. Police and FBI investigators have identified at least one person that they want to speak with, a person that was identified on surveillance camera video and was apparently either a witness or potentially a suspect in the bombing. Our Bob Orr has been talking to his sources in Washington and can give us more information about how this person was identified and maybe located – Bob?

BOB ORR: Scott, we have quite a bit of information actually, and they have done lot of police work in the last 24 hours to get us to this point, but essentially here's what I understand: at the site of what became the second explosion surveillance pictures and tape captured the image of a man standing there with a black backpack. On the tape – according to my sources – the man can be seen placing the backpack on the ground and he's on a cell phone call at the time. He's described as wearing a black jacket, a grey hoodie, and has a white baseball cap on backwards. What's interesting is while he's on the phone, I'm told, the explosion takes place at the finish line, down the race course. As soon as that blast went off this man then - according to my sources - can be seen leaving that area in kind of just mingling back into the crowd.

Now what they did is – they realized what the time frame was when the cell phone call was made. So investigators have done the basic police work, they've gone back through all of the cell phone information from that time period specifically to identify potential call users and ID's, and of course then they have taken the pictures and tried to match all that up in kind of a triangulated way to zero in on the suspect. I will tell you the sources are very encouraged by these developments.Very encouraged that perhaps they're on to a very good lead here, Scott.

PELLEY: There has to be a news conference by the FBI in Boston later this afternoon, Bob, it has been slipping all day and we've been wondering why the news conference was originally supposed to be at two o'clock, then it became four o'clock, it became five o'clock and we began to wonder whether there weren't going to be significant developments in this case as the news conference was pushed back farther and farther. Bob, using this cellphone information, what kind of things would they be able to determine typically?

ORR: Well my understanding is what they did here, Scott, was they knew the time frame from the surveillance tape as to when this man was on the cell phone. So they went back and pulled all the information from the surrounding cell towers and went through the call logs to try to determine who may have made calls. There are user informations, subscriber informations connected to these phone numbers. And that's how they learned about it, Scott.

PELLEY: Bob, thank you very much. Could be a significant break in the Boston Marathon bombing case. 

CBS News transcript April 17th, between 3:00 p.m. and 6:45 p.m.

BOB ORR: Investigators will tell you they are making solid progress in the hunt for the Boston bomber or bombers. Surveillance pictures and cell phone records may help the FBI close in on at least one possibe suspect.

Sources say investigators are trying to identify a person described as a young white man who is standing in the crowd near the scene of the second bombing just before the device explodes. A surveillance camera at a nearby Lord&Taylor department store captured images of the man who is carrying a backpack and talking on a cell phone. 

Sources say he was wearing a black jacket, a gray hoodie and a white baseball cap which was backwards on his head. Investigators say the man, who seemed to be alone, put the backpack on the ground. Then, when the first explosion occurred at the finish line about a hundred yards down Boylston Street, he took off. Just a few seconds later, the second bomb exploded near where the man had been standing. 

Investigators now are going through cell phone logs to determine who made calls from that location near the time of the explosions. Sources say the FBI is working with a list of names of cell phone owners and attempting to match one of those to the unknown man on the surveillance tape. Sources say forensic experts will attempt to use facial recognition software and compare the images from the surveillance camera to photo ID's connected to known cell phone users.

Now officials say so far they have not identified that mystery man and are not yet calling
him a suspect, but this is clearly a strong lead, Scott, in what has become a very tough investigation.

Friday, November 22, 2013

What happened with the Lord&Taylor surveillance video of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?

Unknown to the public - unknown to the defense?


Update 11/27/13: Judge George O'Toole has denied in large part the defense's request to obtain more material from the prosecution. However, he offers a hint how the defense might overcome this obstacle: the requests must be more specific.

The Lord & Taylor surveillance video certainly fulfills all required preconditions for an "in camera" review:

-  what evidence does the defendant hope to find? Footage of a dark-skinned male, planting a black backpack in front of the Forum restaurant.
-  why does he think the material contains this evidence? Because it has been reported by several media outlets - CNN, Boston Globe and others, based on law enforcement sources.
-  why would this evidence be favorable for him? Because it shows that the second bomb was planted by another person than him.

Update 11/23/13: Associated Press defended their story of a suspect in custody for a while even after the high level denial, just like King. This twitter message (WCVB TV) is from 15:00:

Update 11/23/13: This is what John King said at 14:45, when the arrest had been disclaimed by high level officials. His sources were still telling him about a significant breakthrough based on enhanced surveillance video, but they suffered from a "significant blowback at the leaks".

I was one of the people first on the air when we said Fran Townsend had a federal source saying arrest has been made, I had a Boston source saying we got him. I want to go through this.

I'm told they have now checked as high as the attorney general of United States who would know if an arrest has been made. This federal law enforcement source has just communicated with significant progress has been made, but no arrest.

Anyone who says an arrest is ahead of themselves. I went back to the Boston law enforcement sources who said got him, identification on arrest, the source says can't talk to you right now, says there is significant blowback at the leaks and says there will be more information later today.

One of the federal sources I was just communicating with said even to say it's an identification, a specific identification, was to go too far, but then I circled back several Boston and other sources said we have identity based on the enhanced video. They call it a significant breakthrough, but clearly there has been some significant confusion and question of an arrest.

The criminal complaint against Dzokhar Tsarnaev, issued on April 21th, exclusively refers to surveillance footage from a camera above the doorway of the Forum restaurant which allegedly shows him dropping his bag at a metal barrier near the curb. According to this court document, the surveillance video is the prosecution's main evidence that Tsarnaev planted the Forum bomb. It was provided to the defense on May 10th - and it was apparently the only video, because it is formulated in singular.

There is however another live video of the explosion at the Forum, taken from the roof of Lord & Taylor, a department store across the street. The video has fallen into oblivion, but its existence is confirmed prominently by the then Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and entrenched itself firmly into the realm of mainstream media:

He ((Menino)) told me when I pressed him on what I've been told by the source about the progress of the investigation, he did confirm to me and he was very careful he confirmed that the police commissioner told him of significant progress in the investigation and he did confirm to me when I pressed him that it was Lord & Taylor, he'd been told the Lord & Taylor video was critical to the breakthrough.

The Globe’s source also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, had provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.
“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” confirmed Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.”
- See more at:
The Globe’s source also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, had provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera. - See more at:
The Globe’s source also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, had provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.
“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” confirmed Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.”
- See more at:
The Globe's source also said that a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, had provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.

"The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far," confirmed Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas N. Menino. "All I know is that they are making progress."

“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” confirmed Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.” - See more at:
The Globe’s source also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, had provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.
“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” confirmed Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.”
- See more at:

These reports are from April 17th and emphasize the crucial role of the Lord & Taylor video as the most outstanding single piece of evidence. But four days later the complaint refers solely to the video taken by the Forum camera. Interestingly, the Washington Post had accomplished a nice graphic of the Lord & Taylor camera and its relative position to the crime scene by then, but, based on official sources, played down the significance of its footage in behalf of the Forum video.

We've never heard of the Lord & Taylor video since. Given the permanent stonewalling of the prosecution, it is highly doubtable that Tsarnaev's defense team has obtained it. This is most unfortunate because it probably contains exculpatory evidence. The defense should request it in all circumstances. Here's why - for one hour at midday of April 17th, CNN's John King put his head far over the parapet and leaked some details of what the video shows:

-  Now I am told based largely on the video analysis that came from closed-circuit cameras from the Lord & Taylor department store that according to one of these sources, they have made a clear identification of a potential suspect and they are calling this substantial progress, hopefully a breakthrough they believe in this investigation. 

-  A physical description was given to me of the suspect, Wolf, I want to be very careful here because this is very sensitive information, but the description given to be was (INAUDIBLE) is a dark-skinned individual.

-  but I'm told from the video analysis that they now have what they believe to be clear video image of a suspect approaching the site, placing a package and leaving the site and placing a package that matches the description of what they have been looking for, the size of the package, the black bag and like and they have those images now being analyzed and to such detail I am told that they believe they have a clear identification including a facial image of a suspect.

-  they've enhanced the video and have a close-up look at this individual they have on video they say dropping a package, making a placement that they believe to be the explosive device. And they say it's a dark-skinned male.

-  But I am told that the video showed clearly at the site of the second explosion an individual showing up and placing a black bag. Officials said they've been looking for a black backpack or duffel bag, placing it at the scene of the second explosion and leaving it at the scene of the second explosion.

-  I've just been told that an arrest has been made. We know they have identified a suspect based on surveillance video and they were then taking the further steps in the investigation. Just in to us, and again, Fran Townsend has a second source, and this is from one of her sources, that an arrest has been made in this investigation. A dramatic shift. We're waiting for the public briefing today at 5:00 p.m. here in Boston. We do know from other sources -- I was told this morning that the big breakthrough came from surveillance video from the Lord & Taylor Department Store right near the site. 

-  And again, we have a local source, a Boston law enforcement source and Fran has a federal source telling her the arrest has been made. I was told the video enhancement showed a dark-skinned male placing the package at the second explosion site and backing away.

Let's summarize. King emphasizes that the breakthrough came from the Lord & Taylor footage and that the video shows a dark-skinned male - identified by a clear facial image - dropping a black bag at the Forum. Then he reports that an arrest has been made based on this surveillance video. This information is independently confirmed by Boston law enforcement sources as well as federal sources.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's skin color doesn't differ from a white, "Caucasian" American; his bag was light-colored, not black; and he was not being arrested at this time. In other words: he was not the individual who was clearly identified by the enhanced footage from the Lord & Taylor camera.

Not all of the details reported by King - f.i. the "dark-skinned male" - are confirmed by other sources; but the importance of the Lord & Taylor video, the clear identification of the suspect and the black bag are (Boston Globe).

The alleged arrest, despite being disclaimed shortly later, was widely reported, amongst others by the Associated Press and the Boston Globe:

So it is difficult to dismiss this message as a pure rumor. In fact, a big crowd of journalists gathered in front of the Moakley courthouse, where they expected the suspect to be. Strangely, the courthouse was subsequently evacuated due to a bomb threat. The Wire has a good summary of the confusing news on that day.

Milton Valencia / Boston Globe

As matters stand, the Lord & Taylor video may be able to prove Tsarnaev's innocence at once by showing a dark-skinned male planting a black backpack on the patio of the Forum restaurant, 15 feet away from the place where Tsarnaev placed his bag. The defense must insist on obtaining it and may request to summon Thomas Menino and John King.

The Globe’s source also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, had provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.
“The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” confirmed Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.
- See more at:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

This Child is not Jane Richard - Update

As I've shown in this previous posting, the curly child carried by Matt Patterson has later incorrectly been identified as Jane Richard. The statement of Alan Hern, whose son Aaron was severely injured by the Forum bomb too, confirms not only the existence of this unnamed child - a boy -, but also the later cover-up of his existence by the Wall Street Journal.

Here's a WSJ report from April 16th: 

Another young boy, with curly hair, was lying nearby, gravely injured, Mr. Hern said. He looked over his son’s body and found a jarring exposed wound: His upper left thigh appeared to be torn up by shrapnel, Mr. Hern said. “It looked like a war wound.”  - this description matches exactly the photos of the child and Patterson's early statements.

 Interestingly, one day later, the story slightly changes:

Note the subtle difference: now it is not the curly boy, but Aaron Hern whose left thigh was torn by shrapnel and looked like a war wound, who got a tourniquet and was whisked off to an ambulance. Only the "jarring exposed wound" is missing. But Aaron Hern didn't break any bones or damage any arteries (Boston Globe) - so what was the tourniquet for?

And for what reason did the Wall Street Journal change their article within one day and transfer every information about the curly boy onto Aaron Hern? Was this metamorphosis maybe induced by the same forces which caused many media to claim that the curly boy was Jane Richard?

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Surveillance Video: Ten Theses

The surveillance video with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropping his backpack in front of the Forum restaurant is the only piece of evidence presented by the prosecution to justify the accusation that he planted the second bomb. The video has never been made public, it is known only to the FBI, the Boston and MA police, the prosecution attourneys, the Grand Jury, and, remarkably, the defense. Despite this secrecy, enough details have been leaked meanwhile to formulate ten well founded theses leading to the interesting conclusion that the video doesn't prove Tsarnaev's guilt, but his innocence.

Thesis 1:  The surveillance video allows a precise localisation of the place where Tsarnaev left his bag: at the metal barriers in front of the Forum restaurant, only 2 feet away from the curb.

Thesis 2:  It is impossible to precisely determine the epicenter of the explosion at the moment it happens on the video due to the flash, the dust and the concussion. This leaves plenty of room for the possibility that an explosive device in the vicinity of Tsarnaev's bag was the second bomb.

Thesis 3:  So the cogency of the surveillance video does not arise from a comprehensive snapshot proof that Tsarnaev's bag was the epicenter of the explosion, but only from his alleged suspicious behavior before.

Thesis 4: The pressure cooker bomb was placed in a dark-colored nylon backpack. This description doesn't match Tsarnaev's light-colored bag that he placed at the metal barriers.

Thesis 5: Video and photographic evidence of the aftermath of the second explosion shows that the epicenter was on the patio of the Forum restaurant. This is 12-15 feet away from Tsarnaev's bag.

Thesis 6: Numerous eyewitnesses confirm that the epicenter of the second bomb was on the patio of the Forum restaurant, not at the metal barriers. There are a few eyewitnesses stating that the bomb exploded at the metal barriers, but their accounts are inconsistent and will not survive in this form when being scrutinized in an open trial.

Thesis 7: The epicenter of the second bomb can be determined indirectly by the surveillance video, by comparing the situation 10 seconds before the explosion with the situation 10 seconds thereafter.

Thesis 8: The defense has a copy of the surveillance video and may either perform the check described in Thesis 7 or - in case the video cuts off too early after the blast, leaving no usable post-blast pictures - match the pre-blast footage with the open-source footage described in Thesis 5 or contact the eyewitnesses mentioned in Thesis 6 to produce admissible evidence. The surveillance video itself is of course admissible.

Thesis 9:  So the defense is in a position to turn the prosecution's center piece of evidence – the surveillance video – into a powerful tool to prove Tsarnaev's innocence in the case of the Marathon bombing. A good opportunity is needed.

Thesis 10:  The prosecution is fully aware of this achilles heel, and this is the reason it tries to delay and prevent an open trial at all costs. The SAM restrictions and the death penalty threat seem to be perpetuated only to force Tsarnaev into a plea deal.

Sources and Notes

1  The criminal complaint from April 21th, formulated by FBI Special Agent David Genck, delivers a detailed description of Tsarnaev's whereabouts prior to the blast:

Nobody who has seen the video claims that it shows Tsarnaev's backpack exploding; all statements are elusive when it comes to this question. 

The difficulties to determine the exact epicenter of an explosion in the moment of the explosion itself are illustrated by this photo of the second explosion

which is a snapshot taken from this video:

3  Genck's lengthy description of Tsarnaev's phone call and his unusual "calm" behavior after the first blast are clearly intended to paint him as suspicious. 

4  On April 16th, FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers was still looking for this kind of dark-colored backpack:


6  Witnesses for the patio being the epicenter:

Witnesses for the mailbox/metal barriers being the epicenter:


The defense has obtained a copy of the surveillance video in May already; it was the only evidence against Tsarnaev concerning the actual Marathon bombing. The prosecution has not provided any eyewitnesses or forensic evidence for this particular point.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev case: the account of Roseann Sdoia

In my preceding blog entry I've argued that the epicenter of the Forum bomb can easily and reliably be determined by comparing pre-blast photo/video footage with post-blast footage. While some post-blast footage has found its way to the public - I've presented it in several earlier postings -, the crucial pre-blast footage, which is basically the videotape showing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropping his bag and the subsequent explosion, is still a secret and only known to the FBI, the Boston police, the prosecution - and, notably, the defense.

Coincidentally, the local TV station WGBH has recently aired a report on Roseann Sdoia, who is one of the most affected victims of the bombings. She lost her right leg. The report is an update on her condition, including an early interview conducted in May. It reanimates the story that the bomb's epicenter was near the mailbox by showing an obsolete picture with the spotlighted mailbox and an underlying comment that locates Sdoia at the mailbox before the blast:

"She had ordered a drink at at the bar at the Forum. Then she got a text that her friends were approaching the finish line. She went out and stood right near this mailbox. She heard the first explosion and thought it was odd. Then the second went off right next to her."

It is not clear from the report if the mailbox information comes from Sdoia herself or has been added arbitrarily by the WGBH editors. The original interview clarifies that. It has been published on May 7th in two different versions. One version covers the entire interview while the other one has been redacted and shortened. I've transcribed the crucial excerpt. The text in the bold font is covered by both versions; the text in the normal font is missing in the redacted version.

ROSEANN SDOIA: We walked over Boylston Street and went to one of the local bars there that we've gone to again for years, knowing that different friends were going to meet up there later. And we got notification that one of your friends was close to coming down Boylston Street, so we ended up going out to watch the race. We were standing along the road and just cheering on the runners and waiting. And it was just really weird. Other friends had shown up at that point I was before with my girlfriends. And because I'm short  - there was a mailbox there - and I moved to the right of the mailbox so that I could be you know one of the first ones to see my friend Jan coming down. And my friend Megan actually even asked to stand next to me because there was a gentleman next to me. She said if she might kind of squeeze in here to see her friend. He said that he was waiting for his fiancee to come down the road so my friend Megan took a step back. And within a couple of minutes the first bomb went off. It was just really strange because, again, I've done that for so long. They've never had guns or cannons or you know something to salute the runners. So I thought it was strange. But it all happened so quickly. Some guy next to me yelled "the building went down" or "beware of the smoke". And I looked... I stood on the railing to look down and saw the smoke coming up. And a gentleman told us to get to the middle of the street, and there were the barriers. I just remember everybody was kind of trying to get over, get out or just kind of run. That was all like so quick. There was just a "pop, pop". And it was literally at my feet, it just... I thought it was like more nails being kind of thrown in. But just because I was guessing... I thought it hit the ground or came from the ground. And then I just remember kind of not knowing what was going on.
INTERVIEWER: So the second one was what hit you.

ROSEANN SDOIA: Exactly, it was the second one.

As it turns out, Roseann Sdoia is indeed the origin of the sensible mailbox information, which has been omitted in the redacted interview version. With all respect to Mrs. Sdoia, but if she wanted to say that she was standing next to the mailbox and the bomb exploded right next to her, there must be something wrong with her recollections - or she has undergone some kind of pressure from whoever. The geographical conditions at the Forum crime scene and the photographic evidence are simply not compatible with her account.

I've sketched my line of argumentation for this in the appendix. It should be noted that regardless if my objections are appropriate or not, the defense team doesn't have to bother about the problem. They do have the video footage from prior to the blast, so they do know the exact locations of Roseann Sdoia and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's bag. And because the prosecutors don't list Sdoia as an eyewitness in their motions, her account will probably not play a role in the trial. It does shed some light however onto the massive disinformation campaign that was undertaken to "move" the actual location of the epicenter - the patio - to a ficticious one - the mailbox - in order to make Tsarnaev a patsy.


The first diagram is based on Sdoia's descriptions and depicts the situation at the mailbox before the first blast: she said that she (RS) moved to the right of the mailbox; she said also that the bomb exploded "literally at my feet". But because Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (DT) carried his bag over his right shoulder, he must have been between Sdoia and his bag after he dropped it. The locations of her friend Megan (M) and the "gentleman" (G) accrue from Sdoia's interview.


The next two photos show the crime scene about 20 seconds after the blast. 

The post-blast diagram is based on these photos. The red ovals represent Sdoia (RS) and a man lying on the ground (E). Barrier 2 was bent by the force of the blast, barrier 3 was blown away.


The diagram suffers from at least three physical impossibilities:

1 - it is impossible that Roseann Sdoia ended up at the curb, given that the blast must have hit her from the right side.

2 - it is impossible that barrier 2 was bent by the blast because the impact occurred in a smooth angle in relation to the the barrier's orientation.

3 - it is entirely unexplainable how victim E managed to arrive between the blast's epicenter and Roseann Sdoia and where he came from.

Corollary: the array of persons in the pre-blast diagram does not reflect the real situation at the Forum in the seconds before the bomb exploded.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How to find out the epicenter of a bomb blast: a lesson for the Boston FBI

The prosecution's response to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's request for more time regarding the death penalty recommendation has recently been published. For the first time, the public has now the opportunity to get a glimpse into the prosecutors' cards when it comes to their evidence that Tsarnaev's backpack was the Forum bomb. And as matters stand, their cards are hardly worth a bet.

The only incriminating evidence the prosecution has submitted to the defense with regards to the Marathon bombing - at least the only one cited - is the surveillance video which shows Tsarnaev staying in front of the Forum for four minutes, dropping his bag and abandoning it in the seconds between the first and the second explosion. The prosecution doesn't cite any eyewitnesses or physical evidence confirming that the backpack was the epicenter of the bomb.

So because the video is the only established evidence against Tsarnaev, in order to be useful for the death penalty it must show not only that he drops his backpack - but also that this very same backpack causes the subsequent blast. A survey of statements from officials raises serious doubts that the second condition is fulfilled.

1 - FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (now retired) on the April 18th press conference:

Suspect 2 set down a backpack at the site of the second explosion just in front of the Forum Restaurant. We strongly encourage those who were at the Forum Restaurant who have not contacted us yet to do so.

DesLauriers does not say that he factually saw the backpack exploding in the video. He dodges. In the following Q/A session, he admits that it's only his "believe" that Tsarnaev's backpack was "the device".

Question: Are both suspects seen planting these devices at the finish line of the Boston Marathon?
Rick DesLauriers: No, the only one who was observed planting what we believe to be the device is suspect number 2 with the white cap.

2 - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who has not even seen the video himself:

“It does seem to be pretty clear that this suspect took the backpack off, put it down, did not react when the first explosion went off and then moved away from the backpack in time for the second explosion,” Mr. Patrick said. “It’s pretty clear about his involvement and pretty chilling, frankly.” Mr. Patrick said he hadn’t viewed the videotape but had been briefed by law enforcement officials about it.

Patrick describes how Tsarnaev took his backpack off, put it down and then moved away "in time". What Patrick does not say is that the backpack exploded.

3 - FBI Special Agent David Genck, who formulated the initial complaint from April 22th:

He walks away without his knapsack, having left it on the ground where he had been standing. Approximately 10 seconds later, an explosion occurs in the location where Bomber two had placed his knapsack.

Genck avoids simply saying "approximately 10 seconds later, the knapsack explodes" and chooses a pretty hazy wording. Why? His subsequent remarks give a hint:

I have observed video and photographic footage of the location where the second explosion occurred from a number of viewpoints and angels, including from directly across the street. I can discern nothing in that location in the period before the explosion that might have caused that explosion, other than Bomber Two's knapsack.

It is apparent that the last remarks are added only because the footage of the moment of the explosion itself doesn't allow for an exact determination of the epicenter. This is not surprising at all because the flash and the concussion caused by the blast may have made such an accurate determination impossible.

So it turns out that the FBI has not even bothered to verify the bomb's hot spot by other means. The suspicious behavior of Tsarnaev was enough proof for them that his backpack contained the deadly load.

It is no rocket science however to determine the epicenter of a bomb which was planted inmidst a crowd - provided there is video or photographic footage before and after the explosion. A simple model shows how it works. Assumed we have two persons, A and B, who were displaced by the force of a bomb explosion. The blue circles represent their respective locations before the blast, the red circles thereafter.

The epicenter can - with a certain unsharpness of course - simply determined by connecting A's former and later location with a line and doing the same with B. The intersection point of the two lines is the presumable epicenter.

This principle can be applicated to the Forum crime scene. The photo was shot 18 seconds after the second blast. Beside the mailbox, there is a man lying on the ground and a woman at the bent barrier (in part covered by the policeman), both of them heavily wounded and obviously displaced by the bomb.

The following diagram illustrates the situation, neglecting all other people around them. The man is represented by the D oval, the woman by the E oval:

Unfortunately, there are no photos or videos from the crime scene immediately before the explosion available to the public (the photo allegedly showing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev near Martin Richard is a fake, as I've already shown). So let's assume Mr. D and Mrs. E were standing in the middle of the sidewalk prior to the blast. It is impossible under this hypothesis that Tsarnaev's backpack was the bomb, because he dropped it near the metal barrier, i.e. closer to the street - according to the prosecution and the surveillance video. The next diagram illustrates this paradox, with the blue circles indicating the hypothetical pre-blast locations of D and E.

With the simple method described above it is possible to determine that the epicenter was - under this hypothesis - on the patio:

To stress it again, the locations of D and E prior to the blast are hypothetical, because I'm not in the possession of photos or videos from immediately before the blast. But the FBI is, and they have certainly footage from the immediate aftermath of the blast, too. The FBI and the prosecution don't need to "believe" (DesLauriers) that Tsarnaev's bag was the epicenter of the bomb - they could have found out by simply matching the pre-blast footage with the post-blast footage. And they should have done it before accusing an apparently innocent young man of planting a cruel and deadly nail bomb.

So why didn't the FBI check the footage to determine the epicenter?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

This child is not Jane Richard

Source: Boston Herald / Matt Patterson

This famous photo, shot two minutes after the the bomb explosions at Boston Marathon, shows how first aiders Matt Patterson and Mike Chase carry a wounded child, looking for an ambulance car. On the rightmost there is a man and a boy arm in arm turning away from them. I portrayed the couple in my previous blog entry as "Father and Son".

It seems to be generally accepted by the media and the public that the child is Jane Richard, the sister of killed Martin Richard. This is impossible, however. The child is certainly not Jane Richard. It is not necessary to harrass the Richard family with this problem; there are sufficient other witnesses to disprove the story told by the media, among them the people who cared for the child in the first fateful seconds, the doctors of Boston's Children's hospital, or Representative Stephen Lynch, a friend of the Richards. The story of this fallacy is an interesting one and possible to deconstruct with the help of these witnesses.

The David Green video and several photos show a group of people right on Boylston Street, gathering around the child and caring for it. As the group is located vis a vis the Atlantic Fish restaurant, I'll call it the Atlantic Fish group. The group existed for less than a minute - a minute none of them will ever forget though - and consisted of:

- an unidentified man about 40 years old ("Father")
- an unidentified boy, probably the man's son, about 13 years old ("Son")
- Matt Patterson
- Mike Chase
- Tracy Monroe

In this snapshot from the David Green video, 1 minute 38 seconds after the second blast, all five of them are visible, from left to right: Mike Chase, Matt Patterson (kneeing), Father, Son, Tracy Monroe (cowering).

While Tracy Monroe said that the child was a girl and identified herself as "Jane" (see appendix), Chase and Patterson initially said it was a boy, as reflected by this headline from Hollywood Life Magazine:

Both of them adopted the "girl" version only belatedly. Before proceeding, I must clarify one point. It is not my intention to blame the exemplarily behaving members of the Atlantic Fish group, especially not Matt Patterson who delivered an impressive performance in order to save the child's life, as documented in the Daniel Green video and also the Fred Land video which shows him jumping over a barrier. The blame is on the media professionals who literally foisted the wrong story on them.

The Child's gender is only a minor point in deconstructing the story, however. The ultimate reason why it's impossible that the Child is Jane Richard is the nature of the injury.

All witnesses say that the Child had lost a leg. In an early interview (see appendix), Matt Patterson discloses some details: "it appeared to be a child, male, between the age of 7 to 9, severly injured, right leg amputated (gesticulates as if he cuts something), about thigh-high..." Later in the interview, he says that he put on the tourniquet "really thigh-high". So the leg was torn off above the knee. In this state the Child was taken into hospital.

Jane Richard's leg however was not torn off by the explosion. On Tuesday night after Marathon, doctors were still undecided if they needed to amputate it, according to Rep. Stephen Lynch. Moreover, Jane's leg was finally amputated below the knee, according to the family's website. On August 15th, the family published a photo of Jane with her new prosthetic leg. She obviously still has her left thigh and knee. In contrast to that, an appalling photo of the Atlantic Fish group's child shows a "thigh-high" amputated leg (Patterson). This is hardly the same child:

A check-up with the Boston hospitals is the logical next step. According to local reports, the victims were treated in six hospitals: Massachusetts General hospital, Boston medical center, Beth Israel medical center, Tufts medical center, Brigham and Women's hospital, and the Children's hospital. An overview of the incoming patients is here.

Most of the injured children, but not all, were brought to the Children's hospital; Boston medical center reports two children, one of them a 5-year old, heavily injured. For the other hospitals no children are reported, not meaning there were none.

The number of children brought to the Children's hospital varies from 7 to 9, depending on the report. Also the age of the patients varies slightly, probably because it is mostly estimated. Among them only two patients are potential candidates for being Jane Richard or the Child. The Boston Globe reported on April 16th - here's a snapshot:

The article seems to have been edited the same day. The gender-neutral "9-year old who lost a leg" and "10 year-old who suffered deep shrapnel wounds" underwent a slight metamorphosis - here's the mirror version on

Now we have a girl and a boy, all of a sudden. A list of the other patients at the hospital is here. None of them qualifies for the heavy wounds of Jane or the Child. The "10 year-old boy with deep shrapnel wounds" can quickly be identified as Aaron Hern, who was actually 11. He was standing in front of the Forum and indeed a patient of the Children's hospital.

This leaves the "9-year old (girl)" the only remaining candidate for Jane or the Child. Is it possible that they are one and the same person? Dr. David P. Mooney, the hospital's trauma director and spokesman remembers the poor patient two months later:

Doctors at Boston Children's Hospital had only a few minutes to prepare for the youngest victims of the Boston Marathon bombings before paramedics rushed the first patient into the emergency department. One child was burned and covered in soot with a tourniquet compressing a mangled leg, said David P. Mooney, MD, MPH, a surgeon and director of the hospital's trauma center who was on duty that day.

Covered in soot, tourniquet, mangled leg - this is a perfect description of the Atlantic Fish group's child. And especially the last symptom doesn't consort well with what Stephen Lynch related about Jane Richard - that the doctors still hadn't decided on Tuesday if her leg had to be amputated. Jane Richard was also brought to Children's hospital though, according to the family's website.

If the Child is not Jane Richard, this is proof that Jane was not at the Forum, and, because the family was together, Martin neither. So the question is highly relevant for one central accusation against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev: that his bag killed Martin Richard. If the prosecution has to drop this point, this could constitute a reason to mitigate the death penalty. Tsarnaev therefore has a lively interest to obtain statements from - among others - these persons:

- Matt Patterson
- Mike Chase
- Tracy Monroe
- Unidentified man (Father)
- Unidentified boy (Son)
- Stephen Lynch
- Dr. David Mooney and the staff of Children's hospital



This video is a good summary of three interviews with Patterson:

In the first interview (CBS), the off-voice explains that there was a boy with a missing leg.

In the second interview, the only unredacted one, Patterson goes more into detail: "it appeared to be a child, male, between the age of 7 to 9, severly injured, right leg amputated (gesticulates as if he cuts something), about thigh-high..." ... "...immediately applied a tourniquet to the right leg, really thigh-high..."

In the third interview (AP), which has the David Green video embedded, the off-voice explains that the child was Jane Richard, that she had lost a leg and told him her name was Jane. The contribution of Patterson to this meandering story is small - he only says "she" instead of "he".

Finally on CNN, Anderson Cooper put the desired words into Patterson's mouth:
COOPER: Well, since Boylston Street reopened, that's the memorial that has sprouted up, so many people leaving flowers, mementos, signs and cards, just remembering, pausing to remember those who lost their lives and those whose lives have been forever changed.
The Boston bombings took a heavy toll on one family; 8-year-old Martin Richard was killed in the blast, his mother and sister badly wounded. The Richards might have lost their little girl, Jane, if it hadn't been for a firefighter-paramedic from the Lynn Fire Department, who was off duty, having a drink with his girlfriend when the bomb blast went off.

He rushed in; he saw the little girl and he saved her life right after the second blast.

I asked him about those moments.

COOPER: So it was really the second blast when you realized...

MATT PATTERSON, FIREFIGHTER-PARAMEDIC: Second blast, yes, that took all doubts out of my mind. And I immediately -- I immediately started running towards the front, yelling for people to get back, get to the kitchen, get away from the windows, you know, not pushing people back, but, you know, at the same time, I was making it known that I was going forward and they were going the other way.

I get out to the patio and I don't know if it was just tunnel vision or fate or whatever it was, but I just looked and focused, and I just saw this one child in the middle of the street, just sitting there with this dazed, shocked look. Even from where I was, I could just tell this child was hurt.

COOPER: You could see her face.

PATTERSON: Yes, I could just -- yes, I could just tell. I mean, it's just -- like I said, that's why I don't know if it was tunnel vision or what, I just -- I zoomed in. Try and call it training or intuition or whatever, something was horribly wrong.

COOPER: Because it's pandemonium.


PATTERSON: It is. You know, it's hard to explain, but it is pandemonium. But you know, once you get something in your mind and once you focus on it, like that's the task at hand, because I don't know if it's training or if it's just the fact that I was distracted by just this one child, but it had my full attention.

COOPER: So you ran over to this little girl.

PATTERSON: I ran over to this little girl, who initially I thought was a boy. I knelt down, I you know, expressed, "Hi, I'm Matt; I'm here to help you." (Inaudible) a paramedic. I was like, you know, we're going to be all right. We're going to be OK.

Tracy Monroe is being interviewed on this video:


TM: The crowd was happy, everything was very celebratory, and out of the blue we heard the first explosion.

OFF: Tracy Monroe started running, then because of the children she turned and went back.

TM: I saw a little girl in the of held her head in my hands and just rubbed her and tried to comfort her and hold her hand and tried just keep her talking to me. And I asked her what her name was and she said, she just looked up to me and said "Jane".

OFF: Jane Richard lay stunned, her leg torn away.

TM: I just imagine that if my daughter were injured like that and I couldn't get to her....just...just the comfort, you know, she's just a baby. She was so badly injured and so scared. But she was so incredibly brave.

OFF: Only a few feet away, eight year old Martin - not moving.

TM: I saw him...(sighs deep) and at this point I was pretty sure that he was gone.

OFF: Tracy feels a bond to the entire Richard family, hopes to meet them, especially Jane.

TM: I'll never forget them and I'll never forget any of them - that litte girl. She was so brave - I'll never forget her little face

OFF: Jack Harper, WCVB NewsCenter 5.