Friday, December 19, 2014

Marc Fucarile - survivor and eyewitness

Marc Fucarile is probably the hardest-hit survivor of the Marathon bombings. He lost his right leg above the knee. His left leg was also heavily injured, needed several operations and is still in precarious condition. Additional shrapnel hit his upper body, including a dangerous piece in the heart.

So it is understandable that Fucarile is eager to have the culprit punished who changed his life forever. But this has made him blind for the fact that the culprit is not known yet. He is fixated on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and refuses to accept the principle "innocent until proven guilty". But as I have outlined in former blog entries, the available evidence makes it literally impossible that Dzhokhar's bag was the second bomb that maimed Fucarile's leg.

What Fucarile apparently doesn't take into account is that he is a potential key witness, like all other survivors of the second blast, and even might be summoned by the defense. He should take a short look at the criminal complaint:

So the Forum video shows that Tsarnaev dropped his bag at the metal barriers. The paper does not specify the exact location, whether it was between the tree and the mailbox or between the tree and the pole sign. For convenience, I'll disregard the latter and assume that the bag was located between the tree and the mailbox. The efforts of the mainstream media to propagate the "mailbox" version in the immediate aftermath of the bombings indicate "insider knowledge" that Tsarnaev indeed dropped his bag near the mailbox in the Forum video. (The assumption that he dropped it left of the tree leads to even more inevitable problems, by the way).

Several photos shot seconds after the blast show Fucarile lying between the mailbox and the tree, i.e. at the same place where Tsarnaev presumably dropped his bag! Here's a sketch:

The black dotted lines represent the position of the metal barriers after the blast; the white dotted lines represent the former position of the two metal barriers which were blown away or deformed by the blast. The blue criss-cross area shows Marc Fucarile's location after the blast, and the little suitcase symbols indicate possible locations of Tsarnaev's bag before the blast (it might have been somewhere in between, of course).

The diagram shows, as already said, that Fucarile was lying at nearly the same place where the bag was before the blast. The naive conclusion Oh, he was so close to the bomb, no wonder he's so badly injured! fails a reality check however because it neglects the immense pressure wave of the blast. In other words: if Fucarile was (hypothetically) standing at the metal barriers beside Tsarnaev's bag, and this (hypothetical) bomb hit him, he would have been blown away quite a few feet, like so many others. Which obviously didn't happen.

If Fucarile was not standing near the mailbox, but somewhere else, this would indicate that Tsarnaev's bag (the hypothetical bomb) dragged him there. But bombs don't behave like that. Bombs blow everything away from the epicenter - they don't suck things towards the epicenter. Which is proof that the hypothetis doesn't hold and Tsarnaev's bag was no bomb.

Fucarile himself knows best where he was standing prior to the blast. If he was not at the place where he found himself after the blast, i. e. near the mailbox, he seriously should reconsider his hostile and dismissive stance towards Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. He should contact the defense team instead and offer his testimony in order to work towards a search for the real culprit.

However, his testimony is not necessary to determine his pre-blast location. The Forum video and the Lord&Taylor video ought to show him with sufficient clarity.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Amy Garofalo - Witness for the Defense

in the case USA vs. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev


Amy Garofalo was at the Forum with her family when the second bomb exploded. They attended a Marathon party of the Joe Andruzzi foundation, which was hosted by the restaurant and took place on the second floor. Without doubt she is an important witness in the Tsarnaev case with regards to the epicenter of the bomb:
Amy Garofalo, of Middletown, Conn., was at a restaurant with her husband and two sons watching the runners when she heard the first explosion. She went outside to see what happened, when the second explosion went off in front of her. “It blew me into the restaurant,” Garofalo said.
 “When the first bomb went off, it shook the restaurant. I looked up the street and could see a big cloud of white smoke. In the 10 seconds before the second blast, I thought it couldn’t be something celebratory, it was too scary. There was no way. It was so loud and so powerful,” she said.
Two messages from Garofalo's twitter account (saved by screenshots) confirm these reports - one from April 15th, 2013: "2nd explosion happened right in front of us and blew us back in the building!"

 And in another one from April 16, she says that the bomb exploded 10 feet away from her.

So where exactly was Amy Garofalo in the moment of the second explosion? She hurried outside after the first blast, then the second blast blew her back inside. So she was either (A) in front of the main entrance - or (B) just outside the opened glass doors of the sit down area of the patio.

She stresses that the bomb exploded "right in front of us" and "10 feet away". For area B this would implicate an epicenter inmidst the tables and chairs on the right side of the patio. This is not only incompatible with all other available witness statements. Additionally, the tables and chairs were not blown away, and there were no injured people in the sitting area.

This leaves area A as the only remaining possibility. Amy Garofalo was most probably directly outside the open doorway of the main entrance. This is consistent with our previous findings: the pressure wave hit her distinctly weaker than Heather Abbott (she had only minor injuries from glass splinters), certainly because she was not so extremely close to the bomb and also protected by the people in between. She must have been somewhere between Abbott and the doorway when the explosion occurred. This is in accordance with the location of the epicenter as I've depicted it here, based on Heather Abbott's account:

According to the criminal complaint and the indictment, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropped his bag at the metal barriers. It is impossible that it was the explosive device that blew Amy Garofalo through the doorway into the restaurant. Too far away, too many people in between, and a wrong angle. This makes her a most important witness for the defense, just like Heather Abbott.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bill Hoenk - photographer and eyewitness in the Tsarnaev case

Bill Hoenk is a non-professional photographer who happened to become an eyewitness of the second explosion. One of his photos made it onto the front page of the Time magazine: a two or three year-old boy (Leo Woolfenden) carried away by a policeman (Thomas Barrett).

Hoenk describes his experience in a little known online report (credits to wiseowl of for unearthing this). He states that he shot 51 photos in the first five minutes after the second blast, yet only four of them have been published. These four are apparently pictured in his report, including another iconic photo: Matt Patterson carrying the heavily injured red-haired child alleged to be Jane Richard. Another one is a famous photo shot only 20 seconds after the explosion which I have already featured multiple times:

It appears that Bill Hoenk's material exceeds the output of other photographers of the immediate aftermath of the blast - namely Kenshin Okubo, David Silverman, and David Green - both quantitatively and qualitatively, in terms of significance for the criminal case Marathon bombings. Plenty of interesting and crucial insights are to be expected from the unseen 47 photos, and the defense ought to consider to request them from either the prosecution - in case they have them - or Hoenk himself. 

One important picture probably belongs to these 47 unknowns - it seems to have slipped through the cracks, but is not really widespread. I have featured it in this blog entry and will call it the graphic photo from now on:

Is Bill Hoenk the creator of the graphic photo (whose origin is in the dark)? Yes, most certainly. In order to understand that, we have to consult two videos of the second bomb aftermath, the Fred Land video and the Daniel Robert video. This Hoenk photo

can be matched with the Daniel Robert video and a picture from another photographer taken only seconds before, from a different perspective:

It can be concluded by comparison that Hoenk must have shot the photo at around 3:40 (+-5 seconds) after the blast.

Now look at this screenshot from the Daniel Robert video at 1:02 (3:41 after the blast):

On the left side there's a man standing at a barrier with his camera directed at the second bomb site. The next diagram shows that the position of the man and the angle match the Hoenk photo exactly. In other words: This man is Bill Hoenk just taking the photo depicted above. He wears dark-colored clothes, a backpack, a camera with telephoto lens, and, most strikingly, white sneakers.

Now let's take a look at the Fred Land video. At 1:38, someone wearing dark-colored clothes, a backpack and white sneakers suddenly enters the visible area from below, near the lower right corner, stops at 1:42, takes a picture with a telephoto lens, and leaves the area via the right border at 1:46. This man is clearly Bill Hoenk.

Again, the following diagram shows that time (1:42 in the Fred Land video = 0:42 after the blast), angle and position match the graphic photo:

So the Fred Land video proves that Bill Hoenk is the maker of the graphic photo, thus confirming its hitherto questionable authenticity. I have highlighted its significance for the Tsarnaev case in former blog entries. The example shows that the unseen Hoenk photos are of utmost importance for the trial against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Did Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's bag belong to a bomb-sniffing drill?

Dana Rouleau

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not plant the pressure cooker bomb at the Forum restaurant. His bag is well pictured in the famous video footage of the corner Gloucester/Boylston Street. It does not contain a pressure cooker (no bulge), it doesn't fit the pictures of the remnants of the second bomb backpack, it doesn't fit the FBI's verbal description of the backpack, and Dzhokhar didn't place it at the location where the second bomb exploded (it was 12-15 feet away, to be exact).

Notwithstanding, his behavior at the Marathon is a conundrum. He dropped his backpack in front of the Forum, and unless he "forgot" to pick it up when he left the site - which is highly unlikely - the question what was in his bag and why did he leave it there is extremely puzzling.

It is not disputed that Dzhokhar purchased and played with fireworks, opened the tubes and removed the black powder. But the producer has ensured that this black powder has not the explosive force necessary for a pressure cooker bomb.

It is also not disputed that there were some bomb alerts after the bombings. The Mandarin hotel was evacuated due to a bomb threat, and there was one controlled demolition announced one hour after the bombs, located across Boston Public library, which is exactly the first bomb site!
Reports from social media (unconfirmed) indicate that a secondary explosive device has been located outside of Boston's Mandarin Oriental Hotel and will be destroyed (hopefully safely) in a controlled demolition by the Boston Police Department using explosive ordnance disposal equipment.

A third explosion was heard about an hour after the first two after authorities warned spectators to expect a loud noise from a water cannon that police apparently were using to destroy one of the devices.

The media have taken the information about the additional suspicious items with astonishing serenity, not to say negligence. It soon vanished into oblivion. Nobody cared about the nature of these bombs, who might have placed them, etc. - but they should have appeared in FBI records, court filings and  investigative reports. They didn't. After Marathon day, nobody was interested in the fact that in addition to the two big bombs two other bombs have been dismantled.

And who found the explosive devices among the many bags and backpacks left back or forgotten in panic? Yes - the bomb-sniffing dogs who were already on scene before, apparently as participants of a drill. A study from the Harvard Kennedy school released in April reports that at least one of the not-explosive bombs was identified by a dog.

This leads to an alternative explanation for Dzhokhar's behavior which is much better in accordance with reality: his bag might simply have contained the harmless black powder from the fireworks, with certain ingrediences similar to the "real stuff" so that the "canines" were able to identify it. He was definitely not the only one who placed a harmless bomb as part of the bomb-sniffing drill. And his brother Tamerlan, the one with the special law enforcement connections, persuaded him to do this dubious, but presumably well paid "job".

When besieged by the FBI in his hospital bed, Dzhokhar indeed seems to have mentioned a bomb, but it is unclear what kind of "bomb" . The crucial details are blacked out in this court document - with the exception of the black powder:

Even the defense admits the "bomb" in Doc 295:

Despite fighting for the admissibility of these statements the prosecution has announced not to make use of this "confession". Is it because Dzhokhar's description is not compatible with a pressure cooker bomb?

Sunday, July 06, 2014

When exactly was Tamerlan Tsarnaev identified by the FBI on surveillance video?

The National Geographic docudrama "The hunt for the Boston Bombers" is a masterpiece in the art of fudging reality. It shows

-  genuine footage from the immediate aftermath of the bombings
-  reenacted scenes from the immediate aftermath of the bombings
-  genuine interviews with genuine FBI- or ex-FBI officials
-  reenacted scenes with actors posing as FBI officials
-  reenacted scenes with actors posing as the Tsarnaevs
-  reenacted scenes with FBI staff watching a reenacted video with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
-  reenacted scenes with FBI staff watching a genuine video with the Tsarnaevs

The mode of the scenes changes very quickly and there are no captions in the original version to inform the viewer, making it difficult for him to know if a particular scene is reenacted or genuine. The defense has addressed this problem in a motion to prohibit leaks.

Fortunately, at least the interview clips with the FBI agents are genuine and reliably reflect their view of what happened in the days after the bombings. I have already pointed out here that their narrative at what time Dzhokhar was identified as a suspect ("White Hat") is at odds with the common police practice to examine the most important surveillance video at first - which is, in the case of the second bomb, the Forum video. This video was known to law enforcement on Monday afternoon, already half an hour after the bombings, but the docudrama suggests the FBI didn't spot Dzohkhar until Tuesday afternoon, which is hardly credible.

But even if we assume for once that an incompetent FBI staff needed over 24 hours to detect how Dzhokhar dropped a bag at the Forum, behaved "suspiciously" and left the scene 10 seconds before the blast, this blunder is trumped by another FBI failure.

The statements of FBI Special Agent Jeffrey S. Sallett implicate that at least one day passed from the detection of Dzhokhar in the said surveillance video until the detection of Tamerlan in another video. According to Sallett, this was the situation on Tuesday after having spotted "White Hat" for the first time:
There's no magic bullet to get the identity of this man. The image that we have is extremely grey, not even a great photo of this individual. So now our team objective is to see if there is other videos of White Hat walking down the street to identify where that individual and when that individual came onto the crime scene itself - and was that individual with anybody else when they came onto the crime scene.
And this is how Sallett describes the situation on Wednesday:
The evening of Wednesday April 17th Massachusetts State Police Colonel Frank Matthews came up to the 8th floor of the FBI building and said: I think we have another subject. “This is the security camera of the corner Gloucester/Boylston at around 2:37.” They have a video with our individual walking with the white hat with another individual, a larger person, with a similar backpack. “And they make their way along Boylston and then they walk away from the camera toward the bomb site”.
It was only after detecting this second video, Sallett claims, that investigators expanded their list of suspects - now "Black Hat" and "White Hat" - and decided to go public with the Gloucester/Boylston video footage. But according to the detailed description of Sallett's FBI colleague Daniel R. Genck in the criminal complaint Tamerlan is easily identifiable in the Forum video:

Let's assume "White Hat" was identified in the Forum video on Tuesday, as suggested in the docudrama. The following questions then arise automatically:

Did the FBI staff rewind the surveillance tape to the moment when Dzhokhar is visible for the first time? If not, why not?

Did the FBI notice the person with the backpack standing together with Dzhokhar half-block from the Forum restaurant (at Atlantic Fish)? If not, why not?

Did the FBI notice this person walking towards the location where the first bomb exploded and passing directly in front of the Forum? If not, why not?

Why did the FBI not go public with the Forum video? Why did they have to wait for the Gloucester/Boylston video?

The only way to discharge the FBI of such grotesque and unprecedented incompetence is to charge them of lying in front of the camera of National Geographic.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Associated Press changed story about Kadyrbayev testimony

Under this headline

Friend says he thought Tsarnaev was bomb suspect

Associated Press published a summary of Dias Kadyrbayev's court appearance today. The article highlights Kadyrbayev's answer to a question in the cross-examination that seems to indicate that he suspected his friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of planting the pressure cooker bomb in front of the Forum restaurant.
 "You said you didn't know for sure that he was the bomber, that you suspected he was the bomber, correct?" asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Siegmann.
"Yes, that's correct," Kadyrbayev replied.

The answer was also quickly picked up by twitter accounts of Patricia Wen (Boston Globe), J.M. Lawrence (Boston Justice), Laurel L. Sweet (Boston Herald) and others as a kind of confession by proxy. But things are a bit more tricky.

Interestingly, the headline chooses the weaker "bomb suspect" instead of "bomber". This has a reason. The link in its current form is an update of an earlier AP message with a completely different content. Here's the original version:

           Associated Press 
BOSTON (AP) — A man told federal agents he suspected his friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (joh-HAHR' tsahr-NEYE'-ehv) was being sought in the Boston Marathon bombing when he removed items from Tsarnaev's dorm room.

Dias Kadyrbayev (DY'-us kah-dur-BY'-ehv) acknowledged during testimony Tuesday that he suspected Tsarnaev was one of two men whose photographs were released by the FBI three days after twin explosions at the 2013 marathon killed three people and injured more than 260.
Authorities say he told them that he and another Tsarnaev friend went to Tsarnaev's dorm room at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and took Tsarnaev's backpack containing fireworks and threw it in a trash bin.

Kadyrbayev's testimony came while he was cross-examined by a prosecutor during a hearing on his request to suppress the statements he made to authorities.

Some newspapers still have the old content, like the Huron Daily Tribune, others have the updated version.

The difference between the two versions is like day and night. The original version says that Kadyrbayev suspected Tsarnaev being "one of two men whose photographs were released by the FBI". The updated version says that he suspected Tsarnaev of planting one of the bombs.

Unfortunately, in the update AP has thrown out the information that Kadyrbayev's suspicion referred to photographs of the brothers and replaced it by the sly "bomber" question. Obviously, after raising the issue of the photos and Kadyrbayev's reaction to it, Attourney Siegmann's question impermissibly equated the men in the photo with the - still unknown - individuals who placed the bombs. Kadyrbayev's admission that he "suspected" Tsarnaev originally referred to the identity of the man on the photo, not Tsarnaev's involvement in the bombings. But he went into Siegmann's trap. The equation Tsarnaevs=bombers which has been hammered into the heads of the public for over a year didn't fail to affect Kadyrbayev, too.

It is therefore erroneous to take Kadyrbayev's imprudent answer as an affirmation that Tsarnaev was the second bomber. The fact that Associated Press doesn't mention the "two men on the photographs" in the updated version, thereby suppressing the context, demonstrates that the mainstream media are still keen to keep Tsarnaev as a scapegoat at all costs.

A transcript of the testimony is urgently needed.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

When exactly was Dzhokhar Tsarnaev identified by FBI on surveillance video?


Forum Manager showed surveillance footage to police half an hour after the bombings


The picture shows a surveillance camera above the right side of the entrance door, beside the awning (Source: Forum)



Numerous law enforcement representatives have recently come forward and ingenously talked to media about the "manhunt" for the Boston bombers. The video footage leading them to the Tsarnaev brothers - the so called "Eureka video" -  plays a prominent role here. Unfortunately, neither the identity of this important video is clear - is it taken from the Forum restaurant or the Lord&Taylor department store across the street - nor the "Eureka moment" when Dzhohar Tsarnaev was spotted as the prime suspect.

Retired FBI Special Agent In Charge Rick DesLauriers showed a surprising tentativeness when asked for this moment on a  CBS News "60 Minute" program:

Scott Pelley: Was there a Eureka moment in terms of the video? At some point somebody said, "Hey, boss, have a look at this"?

Rick DesLauriers: Yes, there was. It was I believe, early Wednesday morning. And we watched that video hundreds and hundreds of times.

DesLauriers' "believe" that it was Wednesday morning is wrong however, if we may believe another program where he also offers insights into the investigation. The National Geographic docudrama Inside the hunt for the boston bombers, designed with the aspiration of being detailed and accurate, sets the Eureka moment on Tuesday, confirmed by DesLauries and two other FBI agents.

So the docudrama certainly trumps DesLauriers' believe expressed on CBS News. Both versions however have to be confronted with the account of Chris Loper, a manager of the Forum restaurant who was working there when the second bomb exploded.

Half an hour later, the police found Mr. Loper and asked him to show them the restaurant’s security cameras. He took them to the basement, where he rewound the tapes and saw that they had captured the bombing. He and his colleagues headed home in a daze. He woke up the next morning on his couch, his cellphone ringing. The first call was from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The next was from CNN.

The "half an hour later" refers to the moment when Heather Abbott was moved out of the restaurant, i.e. shortly after the bombings. This means that the police has seen the Forum surveillance video at 3:30 p.m., April 15, 2013, at latest.

The investigators who had the opportunity to watch the video in the basement for the first time may not have been from the FBI. But in case they were only local police forces, they would have confiscated the video likewise and shared it with the FBI promptly. DesLauriers announced on Monday evening at 9:00 p.m. that the FBI had taken over the lead in the investigation. So at this time, the FBI was surely in possession of a copy and had begun to analyze the video by itself.

In the National Geographic docudrama Assistance FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey S. Sallett is quoted as saying that "the most important videos early on would going to be the ones who were directed at the crime scene so that we could identify who put the devices down". This is a matter of course, and the Forum video was on top of that list. But in contrast to Sallett's insight, the program paints the picture of an unsorted huge pile of video tapes with dozens of investigators browsing through them at random.

"We were looking for signs of abnormal activity. Individuals who didn't look like they were there to watch the Marathon. Individuals who might have been pacing back and forth. Individuals who might have been carrying something that could have contained an explosive device. Individuals placing such a container down in a particular moment in time near the bombings" (Des Lauriers)

"There's the impression from CSI that you saw everything in 10 minutes with video forensics. But it's just tenacious labor of looking at the video over and over and over again." (Sallett)

"Hours at the same video, hours at watching the bombing over and over and over again - you know I would be lying if I said that it didn't take a toll of us. It's very difficult to watch that. I saw the bomb actually go off so many times - it was stick in my head forever." (Kimberley Lawrence, FBI Supervisory Special Agent)

The docudrama suggests that after endless hours of tenacious searching, Tsarnaev is finally spotted by one of DesLauriers' supervisors, and that this Eureka moment occurred on late Tuesday. On CBS News, DesLauriers pinpoints it on early Wednesday morning.

Neither of these narratives is credible. As we know from the criminal complaint, the individual Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is well recognizable on the Forum video, his behavior stands out against the other spectators, and he enters the crime scene with his bag and walks away without it just before the second bomb explodes. To identify him as a "person of interest" was a matter of minutes rather than hours. The Forum video was known to investigators since Monday afternoon. So the job was certainly done on Monday night.

The elaborations of DesLauriers and his co-workers in the National Geographic and CBS News program seem to be intended to cover up the existence of the Lord&Taylor video which caused indeed an Eureka moment for law enforcement on Wednesday morning. This was reported by CNN, the Boston Globe, AP and other media outlets and confirmed by a spokesman for Mayor Thomas Menino and City Council President Stephen Murphy. The suspect was not "White Hat", however. According to CBS, Tsarnaev was wanted as a potential witness.

The prosecution is apparently not keen to acknowledge the existence and significance of the Lord&Taylor video or provide it to the defense.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Erinn Fleming - Witness for the Defense

in the case USA versus Dzhokhar Tsarnaev


source: Forum restaurant

Erinn Fleming is a manager at the Forum restaurant, and she was there when the second bomb exploded. She has recently delivered a detailed account of what happened. She confirms that the bomb exploded on the patio of the Forum restaurant, not on the sidewalk at the metal barriers where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placed his bag.

For how long will the prosecution uphold its claim that Tsarnaev was the second bomber? For how long will local media like the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald be silent about this grotesque charge against an innocent Boston citizen and leave the real perpetrator unchallenged?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Heather Abbott - Witness for the Defense: UPDATE

in the case USA vs. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 


Extra TV

Heather Abbott is one of the most prominent survivors of the Boston bombings. I have already featured two of her early statements in April 2013 as confirmation that the second bomb exploded on the patio of the Forum restaurant. Meanwhile, she has repeated that she was catapulted through the entrance door on several occasions during the anniversary and the Marathon in April 2014.

Among the eyewitnesses for the second bomb site she has an outstanding position for several reasons. First, the frequent and consistent repetition of her story to various media gives it weight und authenticity, in the sense that mistakable or flatly wrong quotes and interpretations can be excluded. Second, as I have outlined in my April 2013 blog entry and will elaborate now, she's definitely a witness for the defense, not for the prosecution, which promises an interesting trial. Third, her account is confirmed by people inside the Forum, thus multiplicating the potential witnesses for the defense. Fourth - and last not least - she's a prominent face of "Boston Strong", and with her open smile she has already won the hearts and minds of people in Boston and elsewhere, giving her immunity against any cheap attempts to discredit her.

In the appendix, there is a commented list of her statements. For our purposes (to show that she's a precious witness for the defense) it is sufficient to know that she was standing outside, waiting as the last one in a line to get into the Forum and that she was, in her own words, catapulted through the open door together with some other people. She landed on the ground of the Forum interior.

In order to narrow down where she was prior to the blast it is important to note that only the right leaf of the entrance door was open; the left one was closed. Because a few people (2, 3, 4, 5?) were waiting in front of her to get inside she must have been a few feet away from the doorway. She was definitely not on the sitting area of the patio which was filled with chairs and tables. She also was not near the planter (the border to Atlantic Fish) because this would have blown her through the open doorway in a skew angle. In this case the wall of the vestibule would have terminated her and her fellows' flights, and they would have been piled up right in the doorway, which is not supported by any statements or photographic evidence. In other words, the line of the waiting queue must have been perpendicular to the open door, and the people were catapulted inside along a perpendicular or almost perpendicular angle to it.

This results in the following diagram. With a very high probability, Heather Abbott was in the checkered area immediately before the blast.

The bomb exploded right behind her, and eyewitness statements and photographic evidence leave no doubt that it exploded on the patio, not on the sidewalk. So the area where the explosive blackpack was placed can be narrowed down quite well (checkered):

According to the criminal complaint, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropped his bag at the metal barriers. This is so far away from the contemplable epicenter of the bomb that it makes Heather Abbott a key witness for the defense.

Appendix: Heather Abbott's statements

Washington Post, April 23, 2013

Abbott saw smoke swirling and people rushing into the bar — but she didn’t make it inside. The second bomb exploded, and a piece of shrapnel hit her foot. “Who would help me now?” she remembers thinking. But a woman came to Abbott’s aid, dragging her inside the bar.

This remarkable article is the only one which says that Abbott was not thrown through the door. But as we will see, it contradicts every other statement she has made since. Additionally, the story of the woman who "dragged her inside the bar" doesn't appear anywhere else, neither do the "people rushing into the bar". Apparently these remarks are factually wrong dramatizations. The Washington Post itself published a new article on her recovery two weeks later, correcting the earlier story, and this time she is quoted directly, not indirectly as above:

Washington Post, May 11, 2013

Abbott said she was in line to get into Forum, a bar near the finish line, when the second of two bombs went off. “I heard it go off, and the next thing I knew I was on the ground inside of Forum,” she said. “It blew me in. And my foot was on fire. And I was afraid to look at it.”

It is an interesting question how the author of the first article, Suzy Khimm, may have arrived at her erroneous reporting. The speculation ought to be allowed that it was part of what I call the "mailbox spin", i.e. the attempts to make reports of the second blast and its aftermath compatible to the claim that the bomb exploded near the mailbox (the place where Tsarnaev presumably left his bag). This phenomenon can also be observed at many other big news outlets: CNN, New York Times, and more - and at one time, they will hopefully be held accountable for these misreportings.

Associated Press, April 23, 2013

Abbott was scrambling to get off the sidewalk when the force of a second blast blew her through the restaurant doorway. After she'd regained her senses, she tried to stand, but her left foot felt "as if it were on fire." Unable to find her friends in the smoke and confusion, she called out to the panicked crowd.

Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2013

She was injured by the second bomb, which went off in front of the Forum restaurant on Boylston Street. She was waiting in line with friends to get into the bar after taking in a Red Sox game, which is a Patriot's Day tradition for the Newport, R.I., resident. She and her friends had come up by train from Providence. After hearing the first, nearby explosion, Ms. Abbott immediately thought it was a terrorist attack—something she said leaves her leery of returning to the marathon or other crowded venues again. The next bomb went off quickly. Ms. Abbott, last in line among her friends, was on the floor as people scrambled to the back of the bar.

SBWire, April 30, 2013 (detailed report from Heather herself)

When we got there, we were standing in line outside waiting to get in - the bouncer was checking people’s IDs and I was the last of the three of us in line. As we were standing there a loud noise went off and I remember turning around and looking and seeing smoke and seeing people screaming and it immediately reminded me of 9-11, something I had seen on tv. It just all happened so quickly that when I turned around, the second blast had already happened and it blew a bunch of us into the bar. I suppose it hit me because I was the last one. I was on the ground. Everybody was running to the back of the bar to the exit. I felt like my foot was on fire. I knew I couldn’t stand up.

Note that the second blast "blew a bunch of us into the bar" - i.e. not only Heather Abbott, but also the people in front of her.

WHDH, August 15, 2013 (re-opening of the Forum)

“Shortly after I got catapulted into the restaurant, kind of coming to on the ground,” said Abbott. “It was a little bit of a strange feeling coming in for the first time. I’m here with the people I came with the first time and the people who rescued me and I’m looking forward to leaving with a much different memory."

In the week between the anniversary and the 2014 Marathon, Abbott gave several interviews, sometimes together with Matt and Erin Chatham. The couple was at a charity event of the Joe Andruzzi foundation on the second floor of the Forum, rushed down after the blast and spotted her when she was lying helplessly on the ground. They carried her outside and stayed with her for the next minutes. Their statement proves Suzy Khimm's report about Abbott being "dragged inside" definitely wrong.

The title photo shows Maria Menounos (interviewer), Heather Abbott, Matt Chatham and Erin Chatham.

Women's Health, April 18, 2014

Heather had been about to walk into the Forum when she heard the first bomb go off. “I turned in the direction of it and saw smoke and people kind of frantic,” says Heather. “Just seconds later, the second bomb exploded right next to me.” Since it was a spring day, the restaurant had its doors open—and the force of the bomb catapulted Heather inside the restaurant.

“When I came to on the ground, I realized my foot felt like it was on fire,” she says. “I was in a lot of pain, and people were running away in the direction of the street through the back entrance of the restaurant.”

When Heather tried to get up, she couldn’t—so she yelled for help. Erin Chatham, wife of former Patriots linebacker Matt Chatham, heard Heather’s pleas and got her husband to carry Heather out of the restaurant, where she was taken to the hospital.

Extra TV, April 15, 2014

The two also remembered the moment that brought them together. Abbott had just come from the Red Sox games and was about to walk into the Forum restaurant when the first explosion occurred. “It happened so quickly, before I could even say anything, I heard the second explosion right next to me. The force from it actually pushed me inside of the restaurant and onto the ground.”

Matt and Erin were in the restaurant. Erin was the one who heard Heather pleading for help. Heather said, “I was really lucky she stopped to help me because people were literally running by me.”

Erin explained, “I spotted Heather trying to get up... and she was struggling to get up and that’s when I realized she had a bad injury.” Matt added, “My wife essentially talked me into scooping her up and heading out the back. It was my wife tugging and showing me Heather, who really needed special attention, that’s what brought us together.”

Tagesschau, April 21, 2014

"The next thing I knew I had been catapulted through the open door onto the ground of the restaurant by the force of the bomb."

WPRI, April 22, 2014

"I was struck by shrapnel and I was catapulted through the front door of the restaurant, and found myself on the ground there."

The list raises no claim to completeness.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Boston Globe's failed "historic" Marathon finish line photo shooting

It was meant to be a big fiesta to celebrate "Boston Strong". One year after the Marathon bombings, the Boston Globe invited  “survivors, police, firefighters, EMTs, doctors, nurses, runners, political figures, store owners, the Boston Athletic Association, Red Sox and Bruins player” to be part of a "historic" photo shoot. The event took place in the morning of Sunday, April 6th, 2014.

The Globe writes: "Thousands of photographs had been snapped and there was no reason to stick around on the start of a glorious spring day. Yet there in the middle of Boylston Street, in the exact spot where there had been so much sadness and anguish almost a year ago to the day, now there were smiles, hugs and selfies. Nobody had to be there. They wanted to be there. Maybe even needed to be there."

This is, unfortunately, a flattering picture. One particular and prominent group is in large part missing on the photo: the hardest-hit survivors whose life has dramatically changed by the bombs. The Globe certainly invited them as the first. But alas, they didn't come.

Among the victims of the second bomb site the Richard Family, who has kept a low profile in the past, is a notable exception (David Yepez is another, less famous one). Here's a list of the prominent survivors who didn't want to come:

Heather Abbott

Roseann Sdoia

Adrianne Haslet-Davis

Jacqui Webb

Paul and J.P. Norden

Marc Fucarile

Aaron Hern with father Alan Hern

Also missing are the "heroes" of the second bomb site:

Matt Patterson

Tracy Monroe

Mike Chase and Dan Marshall

With so many Marathon Bombing "celebrities" missing - and the situation doesn't look better for the first bomb site -, one may contest the historic value of the picture. The fact that the photo shoot was attended by high-ranking officials like Carmen Ortiz, Thomas Menino, Ed Davis, and Martin Walsh doesn't change this diagnosis.

So why did the survivors, who were not that shy to speak with the media in the aftermath of the bombings, not come? This looks like a coordinated action, it almost resembles a boycott.

For the regular reader of this blog, one probable reason is obvious: it's the unsettled question where exactly the second bomb exploded - and the equivalent question whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was the bomber. Another reason might be the attendance of the Richard Family, who according to available photo and video evidence was not at the second bomb site. The official story has it that Matt Patterson, Mike Chase, and Tracy Monroe saved little Jane Richard's life. It would have been a wonderful opportunity to meet again, with many heart-melting pictures. But the lifesavers chose not to come.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The first 30 seconds after the second blast - a photo gallery

This is, one year after, the actual state of non-FBI photo evidence from the immediate aftermath of the second blast of the Boston Marathon Bombings, without comment, for documentary purposes. Most of these photos I have already posted within other contexts, they are compiled here to focus on the area of Boylston Street in front of the Forum. The times have been determined with the help of the Fred Land video and other sources. I've added the original URL and, if available, the photographer.


0.3-0.5 seconds after blast Boston Bombers jpeg.jpeg

2 seconds after blast (David L. Ryan)


2,5 seconds after blast

2,5 seconds after blast (David Silverman)


7 seconds after blast (David Silverman)



 13 seconds after blast

19 seconds after blast (Kenshin Okubo)


19 seconds after blast (Bill Hoenk)

20 seconds after blast (David Green)


30 seconds after blast