Thursday, May 28, 2015

First after-blast footage of Martin Richard discovered?

This picture is a still from the Daniel Robert video, taken at 0:25. For the fraction of a second, the head of some person with short, dark hair, apparently a young boy, gets visible in the background right of the policeman. Despite the blurriness it is recognizable that his face is not blood-stained, and he doesn't seem to scream. He might be without consciousness. He sits on the sidewalk directly at the corner of the Forum's little fence in front of the main entrance.

He is not Aaron Hern who was treated at another place, between the tree and the road sign. He is also not David Yepez for the same reasons. He is not Leo Woolfenden who looks different and was not at the crime scene when the photo was taken. From his look, it might be Martin Richard. Is it Martin Richard?

Between 0:07 and 0:27 the video camera doesn't change position and direction. During this time, the back of a woman with long smooth dark hair, a black jacket and blue jeans is seen cowering in front of the boy and almost always covering him - with the exception of the said half-second. Sometimes she turns right and her profile gets visible. This snapshot at 0:15 shows her head in the yellow circle.

The white dot on top of her hair is a reflection from the sunglasses she wears over her head, that's why I'll call her the sunglasses woman from now on. She appears on numerous other photos too, if only with her back mostly. This newly published photo (Bill Hoenk) is the only one that shows her from the front:

She cowers on the sidewalk on the right side of the photo. Her sunglasses are distinctly identifiable. She seems to spread a towel over the lower body of someone. This must be the boy from the above still. And indeed, his body size indicates that he's not an adult. Is this couple Denise and Martin Richard?

It is tempting to assume that the woman is Denise Richard - there is a certain resemblance, the hair is similar, she cares for a boy, and she wears her sunglasses over the head just like Denise Richard in the first published photo of the Richard family:

However, the sunglasses woman is definitely not Denise Richard who wore no sunglasses on Marathon day, but a striking brown cap. Here's an exhibit from the trial:

Opposed to that, our woman wears sunglasses, but no brown cap. Moreover, Denise Richard was heavily injured in her right eye by shrapnel, loosing the sight there. The face of the sunglasses woman is without any blood stain, and there is not the slightest hint in her demeanor that she's injured or hurt, neither in the face nor elsewhere. She is in a condition to care for others instead of looking like someone who is to be cared for.

If the sunglasses woman is not Denise Richard, what does that say for the identity of the boy? The still from the Daniel Robert video is, as mentioned, the first picture of someone who might be Martin Richard, thus breaking the eerie lack of footage: he and Lingzi Lu are the most prominent victims of the second bomb blast, but at the same time they are the only victims who are not depicted on any post-blast video or photo footage. This might have changed with the release of the new Bill Hoenk photos.

Be it Martin Richard or not, one thing is for sure: this boy was not at this place when the bomb exploded. He must have been moved there from somewhere else. Post-blast footage shows that another person was sitting at the fence at first - presumably Danling Zhou - and afterwards the spot is empty for a while. Then the sunglasses woman and her protégé occupy it for several minutes, at least since 2:40 minutes after the blast. On this photo from the sidewalk in front of Starbucks Coffee, taken maybe 6 or 7 minutes after the blast, she is still at the same place - her face is visible:

If the boy is Martin Richard, the question arises why the sunglasses woman is with him the whole time and not his mother, as it always has been reported. If he's not Martin Richard, who is it?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

More Bill Hoenk photos of second bomb site published

Bill Hoenk is a non-professional photographer and was an eyewitness of the second bomb blast. He has shot some iconic photos of the immediate aftermath, and one of them gained outstanding prominence on the cover of the Time Magazine. I have introduced some of his pictures already in a former blog post.

On May 16th, 2015,  CBS News aired a portrait of Hoenk, which was an opportunity for him to publish six previously unseen photos. It remains to be seen if the timing - one day after the death verdict against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev - was pure coincidence, or if it was part of a strategy by whoever.

Here are the screenshots of the six pictures. I added the presumable time or time span (if not noted otherwise, with +-1 sec uncertainty), the reference that was used to determine the time, and the position from which he took the photos.



Reference: photos from Bill Hoenk/Kenshin Okubo 

Position: middle of Boylston Street, in front of Atlantic Fish





Reference: photos from Bill Hoenk/Kenshin Okubo

Position: middle of Boylston Street, in front of Atlantic Fish




0:24 +- 2 sec 

Reference: photos from Bill Hoenk/Kenshin Okubo

Position: middle of Boylston Street, in front of Atlantic Fish




1:30 +- 5 sec

Reference: David Green video

Position: across the street, corner Boylston/Ring




presumably 1:30 - 2:20

Reference: Kenshin Okubo photo (see below),  David Green video

Position: sidewalk in front of Atlantic Fish

The moment of this photo is difficult to determine. It was definitely shot after 1:30 because at this moment Hoenk changed his position from Boylston/Ring Road to the sidewalk of Atlantic Fish. You can see him crossing the street near the end of the David Green video.

The next photo was shot by Okubo at 2:26.

At the same moment, Hoenk pictured the scene from across the street, with officer Thomas Barrett carrying away Leo Woolfenden. So he has repositioned himself again at the other side of Boylston Street. But the depicted persons are similar to those on his photo, which indicates that he shot this photo only seconds before. Also, on his photo the sidewalk is not fully occupied by people, which indicates that it was taken in an early stage of the first response. Therefore 1:30 - 2:20.


3:40  +- 5 sec   

Reference: Daniel Robert video

Position:  across the street, corner Boylston/Ring



 Special thanks to wiseowl of  for unearthing the portrait.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The magic bomb of the Boston Marathon

The term magic bullet has gained iconic status within the context of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. It is meant to describe the physical impossibility that one single bullet permeated both the bodies of Kennedy and Governor John Connally sitting in front of him, as it has been claimed by the Warren Commission and advocates of the official version of the JFK murder for decades.

The official version of the second bomb at Boston Marathon comes up with physical impossibilites that make the JFK magic bullet look like a trick for rookies. It doesn't need an explosive expert to recognize this. There are only two simple rules to understand:

1  In general - and the pressure cookers of Boston are no exception - a bomb emits a radially unfolding pressure wave. This means that everything that is hit by the pressure wave is blown away straight into the same direction. It is not possible that it is blown away in a skew angle, as it happens when a billiard ball hits another one off-center.

2  The force of the pressure wave diminishes continuously the more it expands. This means that if two items are located in the same direction in relation to the bomb, the nearer item is hit stronger and subsequently blown away a bigger distance than the one further afar.

During the Tsarnaev trial the "official" epicenter has finally been determined with the help of the official Forum video: it was beside the tree, one or two feet away in direction Atlantic Fish. The video provides us also with the locations of the victims immediately before the blast (the above still is taken 1/10 seconds before). Unfortunately, it stops right after the explosion, so the locations of the victims after the blast have to be determined by other means, for example publicly available footage or witness statements.

The diagram demonstrates the magic character of the bomb. It sketches its impact on three persons A, B, and C. They belong to the hardest-hit victims of the Boston Marathon bombing (it is not necessary to expose their identity here). The green circles represent their respective locations before the blast, the hollow circles after the blast. The continuous arrows represent the pressure wave hitting the victims, the dashed arrows show how they were displaced by it.

The diagram illustrates a number of physical miracles.

The first three miracles are that all of them were blown away in a skew angle. This is - approximately - for A 100 degrees, for B 90 degrees and for C 135 degrees, far away from the 180 degrees which one would expect for an ordinary bomb.

Another miracle is that B and C were blown off only a little distance, despite standing directly by the bomb.

The last - and biggest - miracle is that A was 12 feet away from the bomb, but blown away a whopping 15 feet - in a skew angle! This is all the more stunning as A was protected by some people in between (who are not depicted in the diagram).

This miracle cluster easily tops the JFK magic bullet, it is therefore justified to name the Forum bomb a magic bomb. "Magic" is of course just an euphemism for "impossible". Obviously either the assumed pre-blast locations must be wrong, or the post-blast locations.

There is ample photographic and video footage serving as source for the post-blast locations of B and C. The source for the post-blast location of A is her own testimony at court.

The only source for the pre-blast locations of A, B and C is the official Forum video, i.e. the above still. Lacking any verifying footage, this doesn't make the Forum video look good and throws its authenticity into doubt. The hints are mounting that the Forum video - which is the primary evidence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's bag being the second bomb after all - is manipulated.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Photos with Bill and Henry Richard published by Telegraph: forged

Update 5/7/2015: CNN recently aired this forged photo in their documentary Murder at the Marathon:

Three days after the Marathon bombings, on April 18th 2013, the same day the Tsarnaevs were declared outlaws by the FBI, the Telegraph published a story based on some photos with Bill and Henry Richard at the second bomb site, father and brother of Martin Richard. The story has been taken offline soon, but a link to it - see above - shows one of the photos the article is about.

The picture belongs to a series of three photos obviously taken by the same photographer within a few seconds, because the perspective and the depicted persons are the same in large part. The two other photos were presumably also part of the Telegraph article and downloaded by someone before the article vanished. The order Photo A - Photo B - Photo C is chronological.

Photo A

Photo B

Photo C

This blog post is meant to make the case for the three photos being forged, because it is impossible that "Bill and Henry Richard" (whom I will refer to as Father and Son because I'm not certain about their identity) have been at this particular location - the area around the little road sign - at the same time as certain persons in the background. The background without Father and Son is consistent, it depicts conclusively and comprehensibly the scene at the road sign about 5 minutes after the blast. But Father and Son seem to have been digitally superimposed onto it afterwards.

My argumentation works like a time zoom. Using other established video and photographic material as reference, namely the Fred Land video, it is possible to narrow down the time slot for the creation of the photos in several steps. For the rest of the article, all time data designate minutes:seconds after the blast, with the "after the blast" omitted.

For start, the photos were not made before 3:20 because only at this point the barrier at the road sign was removed. At 5:06 Father and Son are seen hurrying away from the bomb site on the Fred Land video. This amounts to an initial time slot of 3:20-5:06.

There are several firefighters on the photos. In Step 1 I'll show that the first firefighters arrived at the area at about 4:30, narrowing down the time slot to 4:30-5:06.

Step 2 will demonstrate that, by tracking Father and Son on other footage and matching their moves, Photo C cannot have been shot later than 4:58, narrowing down the time slot to 4:30-4:58.

Step 3 will demonstrate that, by tracking particular individuals on other footage and matching their moves, Photo C cannot have been shot earlier than 5:04. This is obviously not within the time slot established in Step 2.

Bottom line: Step 2 and Step 3 lead to mutually exclusive results regarding the time when the photos were created, suggesting that they are manipulated.

Step 1


Here are some photos/video stills between 3:40 and 4:30. No firefighters are visible near the road sign, neither Father and Son. For reference, take a look at this timeline of Father and Son.





On the last photo some firefighters are already on their way toward the site. A little bit later, at 4:30-4:35, two of them have arrived at the road sign; one with a yellow vest with two crossing red stripes and a black strap over the back. I have highlighted him by a yellow rectangle. Another one is wearing a blue cap, highlighted by a blue rectangle.



Both firefighters appear in Photo A and/or Photo C:

It is therefore evident that Photos A, B, and C have been shot after 4:30.

Step 2 


Father and Son traverse the Fred Land video's field of view between 5:06 and 5:15. Here's a screenshot at 6:08 in the video, corresponding to 5:08 after the blast.

The following diagram illustrates their path. The blue dots represent their location in 1-second intervals.

The diagram also sketches the field of view of Photo C. The sight lines of the photo's right and left border and the center line cut in one point, the position of the photographer. He was apparently standing in front of fire truck "Ladder 17".

Father and Son's speed in the Fred Land video can easily be determined as about 2 meters/sec. The distance of their position in Photo C to their entry point in the video is about 16 meters, which allows it to pinpoint the time of Photo C at 4:58 under the condition of a constant speed.

Whereas they may have moved more slowly before being visible in the video, it is highly unlikely that they were able to reach a higher speed while running arm in arm. It is therefore safe to say that Photo C may have been shot before 4:58, but certainly not later.

Step 3


Step 3 is a bit more tricky than the previous ones and will introduce two gentlemen depicted in the photos.

At 6:03 in the Fred Land video (5:03 after the blast) a runner enters the area from the right. He wears white shorts, a striking two-colored jacket and a cap. I name him "White Shorts". He is fairly fast, jumps over a barricade at 5:07 and leaves the field of view at 5:08. This snapshot from 5:06 highlights White Shorts by a white rectangle. Father and Son are just getting visible on the right.

The diagram illustrates White Short's path in the video:

White Shorts is also on this little known video. At the beginning, fire truck Ladder 15 is just moving ahead, enabling it to pinpoint the video's start at 4:41. Between 0:03 and 0:06 in the video (i.e. between 4:44 and 4:47 after the blast) White Shorts can be seen standing at the stop line near the forum. Then the camera sways away, so it cannot be exactly determined when he started to move.

And interestingly, he is also visible in Photo B:

This results in the following diagram.

In the Fred Land video, White Shorts' speed is about 4 meters/second. Given that he kept a constant speed before entering the video, Photo B depicts him 3 seconds earlier, at 5:00. Even if he was walking or running slower at the moment when Photo B was shot and accelerated on the last steps, he certainly didn't need more than five seconds from Photo B until entering the video.

This means Photo B was not shot before 4:58. But what is the time difference between Photo B and Photo C?

While the changes from Photo A to Photo B are so small that the difference is 1 second at most (note the firefighter in the foreground who just steps from the street onto the sidewalk), the changes from Photo B to Photo C suggest a bigger timely difference.

Another gentleman helps solving the problem. I name him "Red Jacket" because he wears a red "Red Sox" jacket. He is on all three photos, I have highlighted him by a red rectangle.

Red Jacket's location has distinctly changed between Photo B and Photo C. On Photo B (and Photo A) he is near the Forum entrance, at the borderline between the patio and the sidewalk. On Photo C, he is at the curb directly in front of the road sign.

Red Jacket could not move straightly from the patio to the curb because the path was blocked by injured people and first responders. The diagram illustrates the situation: To arrive at the curb, Red Jacket was forced to move carefully around the hatched area. For this maneuver he needed at least six seconds, most probably more.

This means that the time difference between Photo B and Photo C is at least 6 seconds. So if Photo B was not shot earlier than 4:58, Photo C was not shot earlier than 6:04. This is a contradiction to the findings in Step 2 und leads to the compelling conclusion that Photo C and, as a corollary, Photo B and Photo A are not genuine.

The reasoning in Step 2 and Step 3 sounds tricky and complicated, but it is essentially quite easy. It can be expressed very shortly in algebraic terms, if we take the greater or equal sign (≥) as "happened not earlier than" and the less or equal sign (≤) as "happened not later than".

Step 2:

Photo C ≤  4:58 (Father and Son)

Step 3:

Photo B ≥  4:58 (White Shorts)

Photo C ≥  Photo B + 0:06 (Red Jacket)
Photo C ≥  6:04

Contradiction - Q.E.D. The photos must be forged.

Friday, April 17, 2015

What happened to the Lord&Taylor video? - Part 2

This is the continuation of my article Do the Tsarnaev defense's last-minute photos bear proof for innocence? where I promised to show that the defense might be able to turn the table just with a few photos. It is also a continuation of an article from November 22, 2013 about the shadowy Lord&Taylor surveillance video which was last mentioned on April 17, 2013 - two days after the bombings, exactly two years ago. We never heard from the video again.

It is unclear if the defense has seen the video. The brand name Lord&Taylor appeared on a list of companies, potential contributors of evidence, as requested by the defense and approved by the government. The entry "Lord&Taylor" was most likely in reference to the said video.

So the defense lawyers might have obtained the video or not - we don't know it. And even if they were successful so far, it might be buried under the disordered 6-7 terabyte of digital data for which the defense appraised years of search to find the few needles in the haystack. Albeit, it's possible they found it already. Apart from that, it might also have passed to them by a whistleblower. The possibility that the defense knows the video is definitely given.

The Lord&Taylor video is not the only candidate for potential bombshell evidence in the hands of the defense, but it is an excellent representative. In the morning of April 17, 2013, it was praised in the news as a big breakthrough because it allegedly showed a dark-skinned male person placing a black bag in front of the Forum, exactly the bag the investigators were looking for. It was also reported that the suspect was identified with the help of enhanced video techniques, facial recognition etc. One hour later, reports came in that an arrest had been made, a suspect was in custody and moved to the courthouse.

Another hour later, the arrest was disclaimed and qualified as a rumor. No arrest, no suspect. The Lord&Taylor video and its decisive role seemed to be forgotten from one minute to the next. One day later, the Tsarnaev brothers were presented as the culprits.

It is this reported breakthrough moment of the Lord&Taylor video which makes it so attractive for the defense. It might show the person with the black backpack arriving at the Forum, dropping it in front of the entrance and sneaking away. And all the while Dzhokhar Tsarnaev stands at the metal barriers looking at the runners, with his bag at his feet. The video might also indicate that the explosion happened on the patio - or exclude an explosion at the place where Dzhokhar's bag was.

There is ample speculation in this scenario, and many imponderables come along. The scenario shows, however, that a few self-explanatory photos might be sufficient to exonerate Dzhokhar with one stroke. The Lord&Taylor video is just one example. The potential pool of footage from the second bomb site, private or public, is big. A lot of cameras were roaming around. The defense's footage might exceed the government's scant material by the factor 2, 3, or 10 - in any case, enough to turn the table.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's movement profile after the blasts

Conrad seizes on distance question: "you spent a week on Boylston, took hundreds of photos, don't know distance?" No. 
David Boeri tweet on March 30, 2015

During the questioning of FBI photographer Michelle Gamble defense attorney Miriam Conrad exhibited a keen interest in particulars of the official Forum video whose significance didn't immediately disclose itself to the common observer. (I have documented the cross-examination in my last blog entry.) The distance of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to the location of the bomb at the moment of the explosion was one of them. Does Conrad have any independent information about the distance that doesn't match the video?

This thought invites to a closer scrutiny of the distance question. It is indeed possible to establish a fairly precise post-blast movement profile for Dzhokhar. I have expounded here that the Forum video and the Fred Land video together cover a big part of the sidewalk, with only a small gap in between. The Forum video shows Dzhokhar walking away swiftly after the first blast (7:43-7:55 in this compilation). When the second blast occurs, he's just at the borderline between Atlantic Fish and Crate&Barrel, almost the same place where he was standing before he went down to the Forum. He then appears in the Fred Land video, now slowly running (8:39-8:45 in the compilation).  

The diagram illustrates the movement profile:

The rhombs indicate Dzhokhar's path, the attached numbers indicate the respective seconds after the first blast. For the first 12 seconds, he's visible in the Forum video. For seconds 22-28, he's visible in the Fred Land video. During seconds 12-22, he's in the "gap".

Thus Dzhokhar's movement profile can conveniently be subdivided into four parts:

1 - Forum, seconds 0-6. He only moves a little bit, looks back, waits, moves again a bit, but doesn't hurry away yet.

2 - Atlantic Fish, seconds 6-12. He hurries away, quickly walking rather than running, with a speed of about 2 meters/sec.

Second explosion occurs.

3 - Crate&Barrel, seconds 12-22. He distinctly slows down, speed about 1,5 meters/sec.

4 - Abe&Louie's, seconds 22-28. He is slowly running now, speed about 2,5 meters/sec.

With the exception of section 3, the speed is simply derived from observing the videos. We don't know what Dzhokhar did in the gap at Crate&Barrel, but most likely he didn't stop for a pause, so I divided this distance into 10 equidistant sections.

This movement profile creates a plausibility problem. Why did Dzhokhar slow down just when the second bomb exploded - one would expect that he would start running like everyone else. But he needed ten entire seconds to bridge the Crate&Barrel gap, which corresponds to a moderate walking, not a running. Something doesn't add up here.

This is even more astonishing as the sidewalk in front of Crate&Barrel is broader than elsewhere, simply because there is no patio there. So the slow down cannot be explained by pedestrian traffic, we would rather expect a speed-up.

At this point, I'd like to recapitulate that there are some peculiar oddities with the Forum video - not matching the Fred Land video is only one of them. Another one is the criminal complaint, which has Dzhokhar not standing behind the tree, but at the barriers, and describes him "calmly but rapidly moving to the west", a calm which is not observable in the Forum video.

It looks therefore legitimate to establish an alternative movement profile, neglecting the Forum video, instead with premises set by the criminal complaint and the Fred Land video:

In this scenario Dzhokhar is standing at the metal barriers between the tree and the mailbox when the first blast occurs. After three seconds, he walks away. When the second blast occurs, he starts running, reaching a speed of 2,5 meters/sec when entering the Crate&Barrel gap and keeping it.

This alternative version looks much more realistic. Here, Dzhokhar must have been in the middle of the Atlantic Fish sidewalk when the second bomb exploded, much closer to the blast than in the Forum video.

Miriam Conrad has of course "insider knowledge" about Dzhokhar's location at the second blast. Is this the only reason she "seized on the distance question" - or is she also aware of footage in conflict with the Forum video?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Miriam Conrad's cross-examination of FBI photographer Michelle Gamble

On March 30, 2015 the prosecution finished its presentation in the guilt phase of the Tsarnaev trial. FBI photographer Michelle Gamble was the second-last prosecution witness to testify and the last cross-examined by the defense. At the end of his questioning prosecution attorney Weinreb turned to the footage of the second bomb site. In the cross-examination Miriam Conrad immediately chimed in to the subject with a few questions:

- she makes Gamble admit that an overhead diagram of the Forum with circles indicating the position of people on the sidewalk does not show all people who were there, i.e. that the diagram omits some people. Gamble also admits that the prosecution told her to do so.

- she asks Gamble for the distance of Dzokhar to the bomb when it went off, which Gamble is unable to answer.

- she points out that on the Forum video some people "moved around a bit" after the first blast, which is confirmed by Gamble.

For the common observer, Conrad's questions must look cryptic, incoherent and not expedient. Where did she want to get at? It is even weirder that these were the defense's last questions with regard to the second bomb site, and they didn't call any witness of their own for that topic. Did Conrad not have any more urgent questions to ask? Reading between the lines is obviously necessary.

Conrad's questions are related to the topography of the crime scene and which people were there at what time. She points out weaknesses and contradictions of the footage of the second bomb site, especially the Forum video. As I have outlined in previous blog entries, the authenticity of the Forum video is highly questionable. Conrad behaves as if she is aware of other footage not compatible to the government's material. But she doesn't dig deep, only intimates, like a cat playing with a mouse, not hurting it, but giving it no chance to escape.

This enables certain inferences about the defense strategy. This cross-examination looks rather like a little veiled message of strength to the government than a closing address for the second bomb site complex.

The time of the following blogs of David Boeri and Kelley Tuthill is reversed, i.e. they have to be read from the bottom up. They start shortly before Weinreb ends his questioning.